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I hope that this blog will become a place to look after my writing ideas and that, over time, I can use it to archive all my favourite creative sites on the web. Maybe others will enjoy it too.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Prehistoric: Coming of Age

It appears as though this particular vein is continuing. Tonight I write a scene in which something actually happens. My main character is coming of age.

No, I don't know how it relates to the previous two sections yet, only that I need to know how this all works. It's not finished, he's just about to start his quest but I don't want to force it. The style of this work and the way it's moving are completely, I think, different to my normal style. They may even be different to what I did for NaNo.

Anyway, again the analysis (thank you 750words.com):

Rating: PG-13 (sexual content and swearing[!]) - really not sure where there is swearing.

Feeling mostly affectionate and concerned mostly with religion

Mindset: Extrovert - Positive - Certain - Thinking

Time Orientation: the Past (with a dash of the future)
Primary Sense: Touch
Us and Them: Them (well, it is third person)

42 minutes (37 actually typing) at 38 words per minute

"It is time."

He nodded, setting his jaw firm and screwing up his face so he didn't have to cry. Despite knowing that this time was coming and preparing for it, he wasn't at all certain that he was ready. In fact, he felt less ready than he had ever done at any other point in his life.

"We must prepare. You may speak to your life-bringer one more time. Bring only what you have made for this moment. And the gift."

A curt nod was all he could muster and he turned to walk away, trying hard to keep his pace moderate. He would not flee and he would not run, fear was his final consolation but could not dictate his actions.

Of course she was waiting for him, alone, in their nest. Siblings were out and the whole space seemed empty and forlorn, which, of course, it was. She did not meet his eyes and he did not seek them. A moment passed in silence but it felt longer, long enough to remember the laughter and the tears and the times spent being and to miss them all anew with a certainty that was deadening. Then she embraced him, hugging him tightly and wordlessly, which he responded to in kind. There was nothing else that could be done.

After an age they parted. "You must go."

"I must."

"You have what you need?"

Animal skin covering; a leather pouch; knapping stone; antler hammer; three flint arrow heads and some leather cord. He also carried a spare pair of moccasins; a bone needle; an old awl and a cloak made from the fir of a mighty animal. "Yes."

"There is a gift-"

"I was told."

"It is not all that I give you, [name]."

He knew what she meant but he wanted to hear it nevertheless.

"I give you all the time we have spent together and all that the [family] has done with you. I give you your confidence and your spirit, I give you yourself. Keep it safe and return with it at the appointed time." A smile and their eyes met again, "I also give you your gift."

Her hands pressed his and he looked down to see a piece of polished stone about the size of his fist, flat on one side and highly reflective. A mirror. Without speaking he reached over and hugged her again.

"You will find uses for it."

"I know."

And then he was leaving, climbing down from the [family] encampment in the broad branches of the oak to the leaf matted ground. Already the season was shifting and the colours turning from green to the deathly white that came with snow and frost. In the night sky the moon was sick and waning, it was time for the great rituals and by the time they were starting he knew he had to go. His was not the first trial he had known and nor would it be the last but it was the only one of the current cycle.

Involuntarily he shivered as he reached the firm ground and walked away a few steps, the shaman was waiting for him, dressed in animal skins with two huge antlers festooned with acorns, chestnuts and mistletoe. A strong musky scent hung in the air, the scent of a male and an adult, and his face was hidden by the large ox skull that he wore as a hat.

"It is time," unlike the previous words the shaman had spoken these were ground out like the sound of a booming waterfall in the distance or the noise made by the mighty woolen rhino deep in the darkest glades. "You will follow in my footsteps and will not step outside the path."

He did. He focussed entirely on the path and the walk, not daring to think of anything else, until they reached a structure that he had never seen before. Made of bales of turf, earth and leaves was a small enclosure, but it had been roofed over with small branches and other leaves from still living trees. Smoke rose lazily through the thatch into the air and the crackle of flames could be distinctly heard.

"A boy and a man may enter, but only the men may leave," intoned the shaman, "This is only the beginning."

Not knowing what else to do, he simply nodded and followed the shaman inside. It was warm, much warmer than outside, warm enough that it was actually harder to breathe. As he watched, the shaman disrobed, placing the skins at the entrance they had passed through and maintaining only the headdress. His body was painted with clay in strange patterns and swirling motions; there were the marks of other substances near his genital regions and his face remained totally in shadow. He motioned for the boy to the same.

[Name] did as he was bid and then stood, awkwardly naked as if for the first time, on the opposite side of a large fire in the centre of the small space, lighting the darkness that was blacker than any he had known in their travels. It was not a friendly darkness either, not at all like the nights he had known so far, and there was a hint of danger about it.

With a flick of his hands the shaman pointed to another opening, at the far end of the small room, and motioned that [name] put his belongings outside the door there, which he did. "Only men may leave," he repeated, "But boys can return back the way they came. Be seated."

He was.

"Now. Now we wait. Until you are ready. Until you are called by the Great Spirit to leave and to take your place in the world. A guide will come after you are finished and he will take you on your first journey. And then, boy, you will know the world."

And so they sat together, either side of the great fire, and sat in silence. He did not know what the shaman thought, if he were awake or sleeping at any given point, only that he was there and that he would add kindling to the fire to keep it burning. It was now more than simply warm; his face and body felt seared, his sweat was all but exhausted and his throat was dry. A dizziness overtook him so that he could no longer tell when he was tired or simply asleep and the dreams began. Long had he known that this moment would come, long had he been prepared by the [family] to face this test and to become more than a mere boy. But he was no more ready now than he had ever been. Swirls and blotches of colour stung his vision, an urge to masturbate came and went without him acting and his chin itched with the first hairs of age.

Dimly, he was aware that the shaman was chanting softly in a high pitched keen of anguish and emotion. It drifted, changing first to something of confidence and then to something of mystery and the unknown. Sometimes it had a tempo and sometimes it seemed almost at random, fast to slow and slow to fast. He hardly noticed when he joined in or that he could no longer see what lay beyond the doorway of the room now that his vision had been so dulled by the fire before them. A pang of hunger told him it had been a full day since they had begun, but nothing more specific than that, and his mind raced to encompass the whole forest.

He slept. He knew this because he woke with a start to find the fire still blazing and the shaman still adding wood to it, the antlers rising above the flames and marking the only part of his companion that he could now see. It seemed as though the earth itself was dancing, a low thrumming through the leaf litter that surrounded them and the smoke rising and settling with an acrid smell all around them. It was impossible to tell how long they had been there now, but he felt that they were no longer alone, there was something, more than one thing, waiting around the room. He knew that they were there, he could sense them on the edge of being, and he knew that they had taken up the chanting of earlier.

"They are sent for you," the kindly voice of the shaman startled him again, "Sent by the Great Spirit, and they are waiting for you. Leave now, Man, and seek yourself."

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