The follow post is by guest author Frederick Foote.
He was born in the Acorn Forest in the harvest season, a young mother’s first.
The slight breeze slipped into the hut through cracks, crevices, under blankets and down smoke holes. She licked at the birth membrane, tasted the blood and caressed the damp brown skin.
Her tender breath touched him at the same time as the midwife. The mild current claimed him, chained him, bound him to her.
The gentle wind stroked his cheek, ruffled his hair, breathed softly up his nose, whisked away his breath, and whispered in his ears. All expressions of her airy, loving affection.
On his mother’s back, or in the swinging cradle, or on the buffalo blanket, she teased him with feathers, bits of grass, leaves, danced them in front of him in and out of reach. She twisted and turned in delight at his every smile and soared with his every laugh.
He named her, “Play,” claimed her with smiles, bound her with joyous laughter. She was his favorite playmate, his constant companion, protector, and teacher.
Play would sing to him in the rustle of the leaves and grass, talk to him in whistles and sighs.
At a certain age his mother admonished, astonished him and directed him to put Play aside: “Son of mine, sunshine of my days, it is time to put away the companions of youth and heed the attractions of the willowy, shy girls, the laughing, brown-eyed girls and girls of clever hands and sweet affections.”
And he did. He did court and escort bright-eyed girls with good teeth and stout girls with warm thighs and girls with honey mouths and sweet berry tongues.
And Play laughed and promised him better than that assortment of youth, desire, and fertility could ever provide.
Playfully she slipped under his clothes and tickled and teased with a warm touch and excited him in untold ways.
Play crushed the berries and winged the juice to his waiting lips and rocked his ever ready hips and came to him in secret in his hours of desire.
The pleasing breeze coated herself with honey for his delight and denied him no pleasure in her competence.
Still, a thin, dark skinned, dark-eyed girl with a bell of a laugh pulled, tugged, lured and demanded his attention and affection. The thin one insisted with the tilt of a hip or the curve of a lip or a casual glance.
The dark-eyed girl slipped into his dreams and his thoughts as easily as Play slipped into his dwellings and clothes.
Play was stormy. She scolded, chided, nagged, promised and cajoled. He smiled at her. Sung to her. Told her the stories she loved, but, but his time with Play dwindled to too little to count.
He did not count on her rage. Play came now as a hot furnace blast from the desert and scorched the crops and stirred the dry soil to rebellion. Dust and grit were her emissaries and invaded the food, the drink, the beds and the baths.
The unending heat, dust, and grit with relentless, blistering winds drove some mad or deep into despair or to a different place.
Except, the misery bound him and thin, dark eyes tighter and tighter, so tight they were married without benefit of ceremony or notice.
Devoid of play, Play erupted.
He reasoned with unreasonable Play.
The thin girl bulged in the middle and smiled more than ever.
Now a hurricane, Play, ripped the camp to shreds and scattered the pieces too far ever to be recovered. She smiled on her works and found them pleasing.
He begged her to cease.
Play ignored him.
The thin girl blossomed.
His mother came again, to save their tribe: “Son of mine, bringer of unending nights of winged wretchedness you are our curse and cure. Time now for a cure.”
He groveled, pleaded, entreated and prayed to Play. She beat him with heavy blows and scalded him and froze him and scrubbed his skin raw. Humorless Play would not relent one whit.
The tribe banished him, and his not-so-thin-now wife would not leave him. His mother gave them scraps and bits and pieces, more than she could spare.
The not-so-thin-now girl’s mother gave the same all damp with tears.
Fierce Play pelted them with splintered sticks and jagged stones, sliced at them with icy talons, cursed them with her fiery breath, herded them to the barren wastelands and echoing canyons. She denied them haven or shelter, rest or respite.
He shielded his wife from her outrage as best he could and offered himself to her as slave or servant or sacrifice if only she allowed his near-death wife life.
On that rocky ledge, Play saw in the not-so-skinny-girl a second chance, a new young one to please, and tease and raise right this time. Play relented, regretted, shined with remorse and begged forgiveness. Her touch was gentle, soothing, healing and warm. She embraced and held them both in her protection.
Such as it was. Play’s mother arrived, as a wind undeniable and unstoppable. She swept the battered couple up, up and smashed them down, down into the rock walls and shredded and ripped them asunder and scattered the skin, bones, flesh and hair beyond recovery.
“Child of mine, delight of my days, it is time to put away the companions of youth and give over to the attentions of the sly gusts, gentle breezes, zesty zephyrs and fierce gales.”
And Play did as her mother commanded, with only a wispy ache of longing.
Carol Smiles says
Mr. Foote’s story is great and quite imaginative. We hope to see more work by him in the future.
Michele Drier says
What beautiful, evocative language. You don’t so much read this as absorb it through your senses. Please, may we see more?
Elaine Zentner says
A beautifully written piece, it took unexpected twists and turns that kept me on my toes. Thank you, Mr. Foote.