Man had been, even before the separations of land and water and the creation of plant and animal, formless and waiting in the depths of the earth. 

Black Hactcin was the creator of all, and all could speak with one another. Black Hactcin finished his work on the surface of the earth and smiled upon it. Yet something was missing. Man was still formless and had no home on his earth. He had the plants and animals and earth, rock, and water gather the materials to create a vessel for him. Wind breathed into the form and gave it life. Lightning struck the vessel and into man, in the depths of the earth, and cleaved man’s soul to its vessel. Man’s spirit and body became one and able to walk on the earth.  

Black Hactcin called to Crow and Beaver, who both came to his side.

“I must return to the dark of the earth so that I am no longer seen. Because of this I cannot watch over my creations. I need you two to watch over them and guide them along the path of all that is supposed to be so.”

Crow was wise and mischievous. “Of course, Black Hactcin, we will watch over and guide the path of your creations.”

Beaver was strong and industrious. “Of course, we will watch over and guide your creations.”

Black Hactcin was pleased at their words, but as he looked into their hearts, he worried that they may have their own designs. So, he called his more ancient creations, Wind and Lightning and spoke to them quietly so none of his other creations could hear.

“I must return to the dark of the earth and can no longer watch over my creations. I have left Crow and Beaver to care for them.”

Lightning thundered and Wind blew as they shared a moment of concern.

Black Hactcin acknowledged their trepidation. “Your concern is why I call the both of you. Crow is wise and Beaver is Strong, but Crow is a trickster and Beaver is not clever. I fear they may lead my creations down a path that is not supposed to be so.”

Lightning was powerful and all-knowing. “Yes, Black Hactcin, I will watch over Crow and Beaver, so that your creations will follow your intended path.

Wind was also powerful and ever-present. “I agree to also watch over Crow and Beaver.”

And so Black Hactcin kissed Wind and Lightning and returned to the Womb.

Boda(Bodaway) yawned and stretched and rose from the moss and grass. He looked upon the plants and animals and land and water and was pleased. He ate the plants and drank the water. He walked on the land and talked with the animals. He felt satisfied.

Crow put his beak to the air and Beaver stopped pounding his tail on the earth. They both felt Boda awaken, and so they came together to discuss the path of Black Hactcin’s creation. They looked down on him.

Boda laid in soft grass against the trunk of a leaning tree and dozed as he stroked the mane of a mountain cat. It nuzzled its muzzle into the bend of his arm as it purred. He plucked a berry from a bush that grew at the base of the tree and ate it. Boda smiled and fell asleep.

Crow and Beaver both frowned.

“Surely this can’t be the path designed by Black Hactcin.” Crow said, ruffling his feathers.

“Surely not,” Beaver agreed with a thump of his tail.

Crow chittered and hopped as he considered the smile on Boda’s sleeping face. “This constant contentment is not fulfilling. He needs to walk the path of excitement and adventure. We must lead him toward chaos.”

Beaver thumped his tail. “No. We must task him with a chore, so he can feel the satisfaction of labor. It is not chaos he needs, but order.”

Crow beat his wings and Beaver thumped his tail as they debated the merits of their positions. Vulture sat on the limb of a dead tree and listened as they argued. Eventually they came to a compromise.

“So, it’s agreed,” Crow cawed with a puff of his breast feathers. “I will show him the way of chaos and you will show him the way of order and whichever he chooses will be his path.”

“It’s a perfect plan,” Beaver gnawed the air and preened his muzzle before turning a serious eye on Crow. “He will undoubtedly choose the path most suited to his nature and since his nature was created by Black Hactcin, it must be the direction of his true path.”

Crow bobbed his head. “I’ll go first and show him the way of chaos.”

He landed on the forest floor in front of Boda, and tilted his head as he took the state of the human in. He was breathing deep dreamy breaths, a jaguar cuddled up under one arm and a giant python snuggled up to his other side, huddling against his warmth. Crow frowned. He frowned deeper when his eyes fell on the gathering of curled rodents tucked up and around Boda’s ankles. 

“What a waste,” Crow said. “This guy's gonna spend his whole life just sleeping under this tree.” He flew to a branch above him and cawed down at Boda. Boda did not stir. Crow turned an eye with a snapping blink, and in a flash, pecked at the fruit of the tree. The hard sweet fruit fell onto the head of the snake, waking it violently. In an instinctive reaction the snake bit Boda in the side. Boda yelled and threw his hands out striking the cat in its face, causing the cat to also bite Boda, on his other side. 

Boda rose to his feet and shooed the creatures away. Snake and Cat retreated to the jungle. Boda danced with pain and held his wounds. 

Crow laughed and hopped back and forth in front of Boda. “That’s what you need. Excitement,” Crow exclaimed. “How alive do you feel now? What a great story you can tell.”

Boda gave Crow a puzzled appraisal, and shrugged, his bloody hands held out. “I have been given a purpose indeed, Crow. I believe my wounds need to be addressed, and my friends seem to have run off. I sleep much better with Cat and Snake.”

Crow shook his head and chittered and flew back to Beaver. “He didn’t choose the path of adventure.”

“Of course not,” Beaver gnashed. “He is Black Hactcin’s ultimate creation. He is built for labor and cultivation. That will give him a true sense of meaning.”

Boda found his friends and came to a small meadow, shaded by a redwood, next to a deep gully in a brook. Boda washed his wounds. Snake and Cat drank. Boda ate berries and leaves. Snake and Cat ate an assortment of the gathered small rodents. As they finished, others scuttled in to replace them. All of them snuggled against each other in the hollow of the trunk of the redwood. Snake and cat and rodent and bird. And hummed different songs as they began to purr themselves into an afternoon nap. 

Beaver waddled on to shore and slapped his tail on the hard adobe bank. “Wake up. You have to realize fulfillment.”

Boda rubbed his eyes as his companion creatures stirred. “What fulfillment is that, Beaver?”

“Fortitude,” Beaver said, without hesitation, and pointed a paw at the tree they all lay against. “We’ve got to cut this tree down.”

“Why?” Boda sat up as his creature companions retreated.

“To build the damn.”

Beaver and Boda struck at the trunk of the great tree as the others scattered to the wood. They worked through the day and night and eventually fell the tree by morning. It landed across the brook and the waters began to rise. 

“See what a great thing you’ve done?” Beaver slapped his tail. “The Brook now has another pool.”

The sun began to rise higher. Boda guarded his face against it as his friends watched him from the shade of the jungle. “I Don’t know, Beaver. This pool is an undeniable wonder, but now I have no tree to slumber under, and enjoy the brook’s babble when the sun grows hot like it does now.” His skin burned from the sun. 

Beaver thumped his tail and swam back to Crow. “He did not choose the path of perseverance.”

Crow chittered and Beaver thumped. They were at a loss of how to guide Black Hactcin’s creation to the destined path.

Boda gathered his friends and knelt in the shade of the fallen tree next to the break in the brook that swelled to a pond. The broken trunk of the tree began to sprout new offspring and the shade over the gully grew. Boda and his friends once again found a grove to rest in. They slumbered and turned and dreamed of faces and sounds, of sensations and colors. They slumbered there in the shade of the canopy’s edge. 

Vulture landed on the edge of the meadow, where the grass had died. He lowered his head and crept with a bobbing carriage and careful talons toward Boda and his sleeping brood. Vulture whispered. “Wake Boda.”

Boda woke and smiled at Vulture. “Hello, Vulture. 

“Hello, Bodaway.” Vulture waved a wing at him. “Your flesh has been wounded and your skin burnt by the sun. What has happened?”

“I will heal,” Boda said. “Beaver and Crow were teaching me about the ways of adventure and labor and my wounds must be the price of such fulfilling pursuits.”

Vulture bobbed his hunkered head as he laughed. “Beaver and Crow are surely clever and strong, but there is a third way.”

“What way is that, Vulture?”

“The way of will over another.”

“But I have no will,” Boda said.

“Do you like your wounds?”

“No I do not, they are painful.”

“Do you like your burns?”

“No, Vulture. My burns are also painful.”

“Then you must submit your will over Crow and Beaver, so you never suffer these pains again.”

Boda considered. “How do I submit my will over my brother creatures?” 

“You must kill them.” Vulture craned his neck and stretched his wings. “Then they can no longer submit their will over you and you will secure a future free of pain.”

“How do I kill them?”

Vulture craned his neck toward a small sharp rock. “Hit Crow with this rock.” He craned his neck the other way toward a straight and sharp stick. “Pierce Beaver with this spear.”

Boda grimaced at the thought of it. “This cannot be the way.”

“Don’t your brother creatures kill each other as well?”

“They do. But they do it to eat them.”

Vulture paced and stopped. “Maybe you should eat them as well.”

“I have never eaten another creature.”

“Try it out. Maybe you’ll like it.”

Boda shrugged. Maybe this was the way. He picked up the rock and carried it to Crow and hit him with it. Crow died and Boda ate him. “I don’t care for this at all,” Boda said, picking feathers from his mouth.

Vulture shrugged. “Don’t worry, Boda, I will eat him for you.”

“Thank you, Vulture,” Boda said in relief.

Vulture chewed as he spoke. “Crow may taste bad, but maybe Beaver is more palatable.”

And so Boda retrieved the spear and carried it to Beaver and pierced him with it. Beaver died and Boda ate him. “This is just as bad,” Boda said, Wiping fur from his mouth.

“Don’t worry, Boda. I will eat him for you as well.” He began to tear at Beaver’s body. 

“Thank you, Vulture.”

“You are welcome, Boda.” 

Vulture finished eating Beaver and came to stand in front of Boda. “I am worried for you now.”


“What of Cat and Snake and the others? You have chosen the way of will and your path must be to submit all others to it.”

“But I do not want to eat any of the others.”

“Don’t worry, Boda.” Vulture sheltered Boda with the shade of his wing. “I will eat them for you. But the way of will is absolute. You must continue the path.”

And so Boda began to kill his brothers. 

Lightning and wind had been busy in the west and now came to see how Beaver and Crow were doing. They found their bones and a trail of dead creatures leading into the jungle. Lightning reforged their vessels and Wind blew life into them. 

“What has become of Black Hactcin’s creation?” Lightning thundered and Wind roared. 

Crow and Beaver cowered.

“He killed and ate me,” Crow said.

“He killed and ate me as well,” Beaver said.

“How can this be?” Lightning asked. “Boda eats the plants and drinks the waters. He does not eat his brother creatures.” 

“Which of you showed him this way?” Wind demanded. 

“Not me,” Crow said. “I showed him the way of chaos and he did not choose this path.”

“It was not me,” Beaver said. “I showed him the way of order and he did not choose this path.”

“Find him and bring him to us.” Wind and Lightning charged. 

And so Beaver and Crow followed the trail of fallen creatures into the jungle. 

Wind stayed to watch over them while Lightning went into the void to consult with Black Hactcin.

They found him deep in the jungle. He was standing over Snake, its body pierced by Boda’s spear. Boda smiled at them. “Hello Crow. Hello Beaver.”

“Boda, what have you done?” Crow asked.

“I have pierced Snake.”

“Why?” Beaver asked.

“I have chosen the path of will over others and the path of will must be absolute.” Boda said. Boda removed his spear and took a step toward them. “Are you here to injure me again?”

They stepped back. The look in Boda’s eye had changed. 

“No, Boda,” Crow said.

“We are here to help you,” Beaver added.

“I do not need your help.”

“Kill them,” Vulture cawed from above.

Crow and Beaver started in surprise and turned up to vulture.

Vulture grinned a malicious smile and narrowed his hungry eyes on them. “Kill them, Bodaway.”

“I am sorry, Crow and Beaver.” He stepped toward them and raised his spear. “But the way of will must be absolute.”

As Boda readied to strike Wind blew through the canopy and swept Crow and Beaver to safety. “I see you have gone the way of will over others. Why have you chosen this path, Boda?”

“So that no other will is submitted over me.”

Wind rustled the leaves. “This path sets you against all others. If you choose this way you will live the rest of your life at odds with your brothers.”

“Do you not also submit your will over others, Wind?”

“I have no will, Boda. My path is fated.”

Boda considered. “Is my path not fated as well?”

Wind churned as it considered. “It may be, Boda. Only Black Hactcin knows the way of fate. But we are here now and so your path must have been the intended path for you.” Wind considered again. “Who has shown you the path of will?”

“Vulture.” Boda pointed to the tree that Vulture sat and listened and watched from. “He saw me injured from my other paths and showed me the way so that I will not be subject to the will of others.”

As Wind blew against Vulture, ruffling his feathers and sending him to the sky, Lightning came up from the void and down from the clouds and struck the earth. “Black Hactcin is in the void and cannot be seen. What of his creation’s path?”

“He has chosen the way of will.” Wind said.

Lightning crackled softly. “The way of will is a hard path, Boda. There is no choice of half-measure, and you will be at odds with all.”

“Once my path is complete will I not know peace?”

“We cannot know, Boda,” Wind rustled. “We will only know once your path is complete.”

And so Boda continued along his path, Vulture following behind him. Eventually he had submitted his will over all his brothers. He sat by a fire in the shelter of a cave and looked out at the night. Lightning flashed on the horizon and wind blew along the plain. Boda sharpened his spear with his stone. He touched the tip of it with his finger, testing the sharpness of its point. He wrapped himself in the furs of his brother and hugged the spear. As he fell into an uneasy sleep, filled with memories of his old companions he breathed deep. “I am free.”  

May 13, 2023 03:04

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RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

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