Thursday, May 26, 2011


The Torcher’s Tale
Part 6

By Leonard C Suskin

As the wheels turned, the shadow of beard across my cheeks was years from growing to the thick, luxiorious curls Uncle Kahn sported just as his cheeks would have been years from turning to sand-kissed grey had he been destined to live that long. I learned that not all cities in the north, in Night, in Day, or the South were the same; that sometimes we’d make two or more stops over one coast to find the best finished goods or the best pepper or some kind of fine but sturdy cloth that was worth more than its weight in the dried petals of the rare alleulah flower. And somteims there’d be cities that had hit hard times who could scarce afford to pay a decent price for anything. I was tall enough to ride a camel, shrewd enough to make small deals on my own, and trusted enough to do so. It was time for me to become a man.

Kahn dug the sand-pit himself, with the sacred wood-handled steel shovel he carried in his saddle-bag. I stripped my robe, closed my eyes, and surrendered to his caloused hands as Uncle Kahn lay me down in sand that had known no moisture, under the desert sun of our ancestors. I heard the whisper of wind shuffling the dunes, the bite of the shovel in the loose sand, felt the hot grains against my body. I breathed deeply as the sand drew poisonous, corrupting moisture from my body to make room for the ifrit – spirits of flame and sand dwelling deep within the desert. Memories flowed like sand; the floral stink of the Roi, the herb-water scent of the Aleph-ya, the honest musty smell of the People. Dry sand and wet sand and course sand and paving stones beneath my feet. The Roi’s sickly-pale skin and sand in my eyes and books and words and the clink of gold in saddlebags and sand in my eyes and sand in my eyes and sand in my nose and my mouth heating me from within cooking me and the ifrit in my eyes and my ears and my nose and


the grind of hot grains against my body, the bite of shovel in loose sand. The whisper of wind shuffling the dunes, from far away. Calloused hands drew me out from sand that had known no moisture save my sweat and tears as they’d flowed forth to let the Ifrit into me. The sun had set and risen and was near to setting again. My legs were weak, my throat dry with dust, but my spirit light. Uncle and I met eachother’s gaze, but no words need be spoken. I had taken the Ifrit, I had lived the night.

I was a man.

I knew I’d be allowed to carry a rifle to help defend the caravan, might someday marry and either lead a clan myself or serve as a trusted lieutenant in a larger clan. I even had the choice to strike out on my own as a wandering mystic, going wherever the spirit of the Ifrit lead me. That tomorrow would be another day like today didn’t much matter; what mattered is that I had the choice. I was a man.

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I'm a full-time AV professional, full-time husband, and full-time father. In between these full-times, I like to scribble pretty words.


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