Saturday, February 9, 2013

Toa Wakes



"I miss you." isn't a sentence Toa can say. She doesn't have the word "Miss." There is a short word that means, "Off target" --it is an intransitive verb. When your grandparents sing you to sleep, when your siblings will come home eventually, pink and gossamer and glowing though they may be, there's no need for that word.

Toa is laying on the same branch she was a day ago, though. The rain hasn't stopped, and a tree just south of her has been struck by lightning, has caught fire. The water drips down her hair, matting it, warming her lips.

Idly, Toa wonders how her pool of tears is faring. She has not returned to her camp for three days, has continued further and further out, away from her part of the jungle.

"Survive" in Toa's language is the same word as "live." and she has seven different words for "Secret." All of which also mean, "Magic." But magic to them isn't the same as magic to us. Magic, for them is

(Seven kinds of magic, there's a thing.)

Like a torch falling from the sky, a comet soaring into the forest. This is two days from the rain, forward, not backward. The boom of the comet's impact shook the tree and Toa almost fell out, fell down, almost. She's steadier than that.

The impact started a fire, a big, big fire. Big enough to be followed, but Toa is smart. You don't go following fires in the night. Its still dark where you tread and there are still beasts hungry for your meat. Teeth and thick paws, flashing nails and shaggy fur.

Toa made a note, scratched the direction of the fire into a tree branch with her spear point, incase it went out while she slept.

She couldn't feel the fire, but still knew it was there, rising into the sky just like the boar's tunnel burrowed into the ground --both lost themselves in an edge --a cloud line, the angle of the pit.

They thought they were so clever, with the pit. The boar, though, had out smarted them, had climbed through a door it made itself, bloody snout through all that packed dirt.


"Enough contemplation," Toa thought as she drifted off, the summoning prayer half finished, slipping through her lips.

It worked anyway.

Her grandfather sat next to her on the river bank, their feet and legs warming in the salt pool. "You know we're proud of you, don't you?" Her grandfather said.

Toa laughed. She thought for many minutes. Her response: "This again?"