Jawbone Periodical, Issue 04 Volume 10

Looming large in silhouette over a fleet of gallant spool suits finished in the academy’s top-secret homebrewed alloy, the latest enrollment awareness poster for Meridian paints wunderkind Sakiko Gable as literally larger than life. She is an icon big enough to protect the thousand-strong student body and its faculty besides, while also serving double function as an inspiration, a guiding light, the literal model student.

Sakiko Gable sits elegantly for our interview1

Gable herself projects an aura almost as impressive. Photographs barely contain her; her doe-eyed smile dominates magazine covers, billboards, and scrolling website marquees. In-person, she cuts an impossibly normal figure. Average height, slight but not unusually so, and although I have caught her on one of the rare occasions where she’s dressed in her personal attire rather than her uniform, her clothing style is in keeping with any other attractive young woman her age.

Those girl-next-door good looks and approachability are so potent as to be a power of their own. Pretty, but not beautiful, eloquent, but not so much as to be disconcerting, Gable straddles a perfect line: she could be your best friend, but she also wants you, as her friend, to be your best. I tell her this and she muses on it, stirring her ruby-colored tea with a Meridian-monogrammed silver spoon.

“That’s not untrue,” she says after a moment. Her smile is soft. “I do want everyone to be their best. Including me.”

Gable officially joined the Meridian effort a year ago, almost to the day. When I bring up the rumors of her affiliation creeping back into her adolescence, or perhaps even further back than that, she demurs politely—“I wouldn’t want your article to cast doubt on our Emperor’s conscription policies”—but with a tone of finality that prevents me from mentioning such gossip again.

“Anyway,” she glides ahead with her characteristic grace, “the academy has never been anything but good to me. I’m sure some people assume that’s propaganda, and of course, I’d deny it, but…well, to be clear, I have no gag orders and they have never scripted any of my speeches for their enrollment campaigns.”

But that’s what they’d tell you to say, surely?

“Surely,” she says before she catches my eye over the lip of her teacup. There is a little sparkle there, like we’re part of the same secret game.

We discuss the tea—our meeting place is, naturally enough, on Meridian’s primary plaza. The small coffee shop is a-froth with young ladies snapping pictures of their coffees and cooing over desserts. Gable has ordered the weekly special, amber bergamot with a hint of false cremulace and sapling syrup. I throw all thoughts of my barely begun diet to the wind and order the cashew cremulatta. Topped with shaved chocolate bark and slivers of cashew, it’s worth procuring a visitor’s pass to Meridian Memorial all on its own. I tell Gable as much and she nods, eagerly, like I’m not ten years her senior and about to document her every word for an adoring public.

“I drank so many of them, my first year here! They are so special. Unfortunately, I drank so many of them that I needed to take a break…and now I can barely look at them. That’s how it is with everything, don’t you think? You can love something so much, but if you have it all the time—”

“You get sick to death of it,” I say, and we both giggle.

The onsite eatery serves simple fare alongside its extravagant signature drinks.2

Is campus life a similar story? Gable takes a specifically tailored course afforded to the top pilots in the academy, but she also has a permanent get-out-of-class-free token such that if she’s called for duty she can leave without any further excuse. From other star pilots, I’ve heard this causes many a rift between classmates without the same privilege. Any infighting? Class squabbles?

“Everyone has been so much kinder than I ever expected,” Gable says after another sip of her tea. “We aren’t children. Meridian scouts for high-quality students and the pilots who enroll aren’t prone to common playground bullying. And I should hope not! We’re all allies, out there.”

But I imagine, I tell her, that it gets lonely at the top. Gable has her own fan club on campus; various aggrandizing nicknames; merchandise both from reputable and less-reputable vendors. While any young girl might ache to emulate Gable’s strong, confident manner and her split-second decision-making on the field, being the best means standing up on the mountain peak alone.

“I don’t see it that way.”

Curses! My whole angle!

“Oh, sorry! I wasn’t trying to defy a set cliché or anything. I just…here, this probably sounds trite, but I really am too busy to mind things like how popular I am, or how often I get to hang out with friends. That probably sounds tragic, doesn’t it?” Her smile is anything but. “I promise you, I’m very happy. All the same, I’d love for someone to meet me up here on the mountain peak, as you put it. I think there’s someone out there who can manage it. Maybe even multiple someones. I’m waiting for you, so come and get me!”

Perhaps this is Gable’s true talent, even outside of her battle acumen. When she makes that plea, half-joking, I believe it with all my heart. Enough that I’ll join her—any sufficiently skilled prospective pilots out there, why not consider enrolling with Meridian Memorial? Their local café makes a mean cashew cremulatta.

Written for The Jawbone Periodical’s Human Interest column by Pirouette Parabella. Meridian Memorial did not sponsor this piece.

1 Photography Credit

2 Photography Credit

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