Fiction Historical Fiction Coming of Age

There is the sea and there are the waves and the winds and there are the specks on the far shore never to be touched. 

     In the warm time, the winds blow from the west and we stretch the skins of our skins on the rocks and stretch our bodies there, too. 

     In the cold time, the winds blow from the north, and we wrap our skins around our skins and hold each other in the caves and hope the hidden god sends a star to one of our altars before they grow too wet. 

     If we are unworthy, we shiver until the winds change and carry the bodies the cold has claimed out into the sea. 

     If a star descends, we bring it into the cave and eat and tell stories. Father says father said father said that the caves had rivers that flowed from a dark somewhere when the caves stretched farther, and we came from that darkness. We came from the somewhere to here. 

There is the sea and the waves and the winds and the specks on the far shore never to be touched. It is not how they move, but how they stand still. The specks. Not like other animals. Not the sleeping stillness of the seals on the rocks; not the trembling stillness of the rabbits in the high grass. It is another stillness. 

     I am still when I look at the stars on their wheel. Father shakes me and asks me if I have found a new star. My daughter with good eyes, he says. 

     I lift my head and find new stars and ask them to warm us when the north winds come. When a star descends, I bring it into the caves. This is an honor. 

There is the sea, the waves, the winds, and the specks with their sacrifices. 

     I am the good daughter with the good eyes. I see the crabs that do not move. I see the deer in the grass. I see the specks adding their clouds to the clouds. 

     No one else can see them. 

     No one else sees how they gather their sacrifice and push it on to the waves and let it sink to their god. 

     I see no caves on their side of the sea. I do not know what darkness they emerged from. 

     Between the stars there is little darkness. When a star descends, the other stars recede and there is more darkness. Maybe the specks across the sea come from the darkness we create. 

     Only in the caves is it completely dark. With my good eyes, I try to see where we came from. 

     My eyes are not good enough. 

There is the sea, the waves, the winds from the west and the specks who gather another sacrifice and sink it beneath the waves. 

     Do they have the same god or a different god? I stick my face beneath the salt, but I cannot see a fight. 

     Father says we no longer fight. We guard the caves when the sea swells and the rivers threaten to return. I ask what we will do if more of us come from the darkness. Father shrugs. 

     I tell father of the specks on the shore never to be touched. He does not believe me. He tells me to look at the stars.

     The specks are the most still as their sacrifice sinks. 

Sea, waves, winds from the north that cut our bones. Father and mother killed a deer and I skinned it with a stone and wrapped this skin around the skin of baby brother. There was still the smell of blood and baby brother cried. 

     The cold dried mother out and I stood in the rain. I lifted my eyes, and I lifted my hands and I saw the stars I could not see. A star descended at my feet, and I carried its warmth to baby brother. 

     Across the sea I could not see the specks. I saw them as I saw the stars. I felt their stillness see me. 

The sea, the waves. The winds have stopped. 

     In the flat sea we gather mussels and stretch our skins beneath the sun. The sun laughs on the waves. 

     The specks push a sacrifice onto the sea. The sacrifice does not sink. The specks have never been more still. Their sacrifice is rejected. 

     The day changes and does not change. The god of the specks holds a spear above the waves. We are all rabbits in the high grass. No one else has good eyes. For everyone else the sun is laughing. 

     One of the specks moves. 

     The speck moves into the waves, takes the sacrifice in one hand to sink it. The sacrifice does not sink. The speck climbs atop the sacrifice. It does not sink. The speck cannot save us from their god. I am the deer, trying not to move. Baby brother gathers moss in his fingers. 

     The speck and the sacrifice grow larger.

     They are closer. 

     I do not move. Around me, everyone moves. 

     But there is the sea, it is still. There are the waves, they are still. The winds are still. There is the speck. Larger. Closer. 

     A scream. 

     Those without good eyes can see the speck as the sacrifice walks across the water. Everyone else wails. They retreat to the darkness of the caves. They retreat to the darkness from which we came. 

     I am still.

     The speck is a father-brother. With one hand he pushes the water. With another hand he holds a star. The sacrifice bumps against the moss-covered rocks. The father-brother steps from the wet stones to the dry stones to me. His star descends to an altar. 

In time, he will do many things. The father-brother speck. He will put a baby in my belly. The baby will come from two types of darkness. He will move on with our child and I will die in the cave and my bones will meld with the earth and I will learn with the world. 

     Where we were will be called Gibraltar. Where he was will be called Morocco. His darkness will consume ours and we will be forgotten. The sons of our sons of our sons will discover my bones in the cave, but I will be named after the bones of a man found in New Man’s valley. They will take my bones from the earth, and I will watch in a new dark how our offspring will bring down all the stars and burn everything.

     There will be no sea and there will be no waves—only the winds blowing hot from the west and from the north. 

But I do not know this when he lights the altar and skewers a seal over the star he brought to me. The wind blows from the west and the star burns brighter and the two of us, he and I, we sit and we eat together. 

June 30, 2021 07:47

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