Fiction Friday – 28 December 2007
This Week’s Theme: Your adult character just got a guitar for Christmas–a gift very out of character. What changes, if any, does this cause in her life or personality? (You may adjust the instrument if a guitar would be out of place or time in your story.)
Closer. Closer. Closer… He’s almost mine… Now!
I launched myself from the tree branch, and collided with him, knocking him to the ground. In that stunned instant, I could take the advantage. I pinned his right arm behind his back, then knelt on his left. “Do you yield?” I screamed in his ear. He turned his face towards me.
“OK, OK, I yield Praxus, I yield!” I rolled off Triphtus, punching the air in victory. “Show off” he muttered, as he staggered to his feet. “My turn to hunt, I’ll give you a head start.” Just as I stuck my tongue out and made to run, I heard a voice calling my name.
“Praxus! Praxus, where have you got to?” A second voice called from across the fields. “Triphtus my boy, it’s time.”
We looked at each other and sighed. “Mother probably wants me to feed the animals. Same time tomorrow Triphtus?” He nodded. “Tomorrow you won’t be so lucky! I’ll hunt you down Praxus, faster than you did!” He ran off down the hill towards his home, where his father had been calling from. I envied him still having a father. My own father was taken when I was still an infant, during the Relkashan campaign. Still a child, I quickly had to learn to become the man of the house, the warrior. Triphtus and I vied for glory on the sporting fields, in the hunts. Although we were great rivals, we were greater friends. Our village, our entire tribe looked to the future eagerly. When these strong boys became men, the greatest warriors our little corner of the kingdom had ever produced. We would bring glory to our families.
I had not been called to tend to the animals. Because I thought that I was needed for chores, I had dawdled, whereas Triphtus had run straight home. As I approached my own home, I could see an Elder talking earnestly to him. He held a sword in his hand, not in a threatening manner, but as if presenting it to Triphtus.
My mother ushered me into the house, where an Elder was sat patiently waiting for me. I bow politely, recognising Astatha, leader of the council.
“Praxus my boy… no, forgive me, no longer a boy. Your transition is upon you. Today and henceforth, you are a man. And to mark this, we have a gift for you…”
The transition! The sword presented to Triphtus was his gift. Triphtus was to be a warrior. And so I awaited my own sword. Together we would go to war, together we would conquer! Triphtus and Praxus – warriors, heroes, brothers in arms.
“Do you know what this is Praxus?”
It wasn’t a sword. That much was obvious. It was curved like a bow, like two bows that merged into each other at the bottom. And rather than one bow string, there were many. I shook my head. I knew what it was, I had seen one before, but I did not want it to be anything other than a sword.
“This is a lyre.” Astatha ran his hands across the strings, and notes cascaded out of the lyre. “It is beautiful, is it not? Would you like to play it?”
I shook my head. “I am a warrior. I have no need for a lyre.”
Astatha smiled warmly. “You have been chosen by the transition Praxus, and this instrument is yours.” I looked up at him, my eyes burning. “Then that is not the only liar in the room.” Astatha’s eyes narrowed. For a second he seemed displeased, but then he began to laugh. “Clever wordplay my boy, very clever. And that is why the transition has chosen you. No wars. No more fighting and hunting. Praxus, you are gifted, now take this gift to complement those you already have. Your mind and heart cry out, let this…” He pressed the lyre into my hands. “… give them the expression they seek. Praxus the boy, the transition has descended upon you. No more a boy, you are Praxus, the bard.”
He left me alone, with my disappointments, my anger, my fears. I would lose my friend Triphtus, for who knew of a bard and a warrior who were friends? I would lose my standing in the village. Though a boy, I was respected as a future great warrior. Now a man, but a bard? No, all respect and honour would be given to Triphtus. And my own ambitions? To fight, to win, to conquer. They swiftly eluded me. All I had left to hold on to was this thing, this instrument. My fingers scraped across the strings angrily, and the lyre sang in pain and frustration. My own words tumbled out, cursing this strange fate. And when that song finished, I realised that this was truth. I was not a warrior. I had made my first song. I was, and forever more, a singer of songs, a teller of tales, a dreamer of words.