Wednesday, July 18, 2012

He Rises

The sky was darkening, but it was only midday. In a desert oasis, this can mean only one thing. A storm was brewing, no doubt coming to engulf the small village in the north of the kingdom. The storms had been more violent this season, unusual since the scribes and the almanacs have little history of such a weather patterns. The citizens were speaking as though this were a hint of the end days, others believed it was the coming of a new age. Most tried to ignore it, focused more on their work, trying to make a decent wage to look toward the future.

A boy in his teen years straddles a rafter of a skeletal frame of what will soon be a two story house for a wealthy merchant in town. The merchant, as always, showed his prestige without care, flaunting his gold and his fleece and never sharing with the common villager anymore than what was due to them for labor.

That must be why he requested a new house be built on the outskirts of town. No doubt the merchant was noticing a growing hostility toward him. It was only a matter of time until he left the village completely. His kind was unwelcomed in this village, small, quaint, and private.

The desert sand began to pick up and travel in the wind like sandpaper scraping against raw wooden planks. The boy was used to this of course. He lived his life in these deserted building frames, creating what others would live in, his living, by trade was to accommodate others. His hard work was paid in modest commodity such as goats, chickens, receiving the occasional gold piece. But never had he received anything that would last more than a week at a time.

His skin was dark from hours in the blistering sun, rough from the sandy wind and the harsh dry climate. His hands were calloused from wielding his hammer, slamming the nails into wooden planks made his arms strong and lean. He wore a linen loin cloth, draped down to his knees, and sandals woven by his mother. He usually wore a family Sudra, a headpiece of long material that protected his neck and head from the scorching sun. He was a strong child, much stronger than he should be for his age, the other children seemed jealous of his ambitious work, his crafty hands, and the dedication to the jobs that he was offered.

He was nailing in the final spikes into a wooden joint plank connecting it to the second story floor boards when he heard the bells ringing. The sound that some emergency or danger was approaching. He looked down to see his fellow employees dashing toward the encampment. It was then he looked toward the horizon and saw the shadow of clouds, the brown and tan hues of swirling rocks and sand. The storm approaches the village, a severe one by the looks of it.

He dropped from the rafter, landing like an acrobat and without hesitation dashed toward the encampment along with the rest of those out in the open. He overheard the foreman saying that the job was finished for the day, and that he prays to God that what work they have done does not come crumbling down before them. He tells the employees to run home, to lock the doors, cover the windows, and wait it out. He also says that work will commence the following day at the regular morning hour.

The young carpenter went home, running as fast as he could through the field, over fences holding goats and the occasional wondering chickens. He climbed over a barrel or two of wine as he passed the local market square. His small quaint house rested in a nook between two large clay buildings that have been renovated for commercial trade. To his left was a seamstress, and a tailor, their work was renown throughout parts of the kingdom. To his right there was a Shochet, known to most as a meat house. The smell of the rotten parts had a tendency to travel into his home, often making her mother feel ill.

The boy jumps over a wall and lands across the street from his front door. In no time, he’s at the door, preparing to open it when he hears a dish crash against the other side. He looks toward the horizon, the storm was still some ways out, and he could wait some time before it arrived. He put his ear toward the door.

“I can’t stand this anymore Joseph, why do you always bring this up! I can’t change what has happened in the past! I’ve never lied to you, I never will!” The woman was in tears, a sharp purple bruise was forming on her cheekbone, swelling, distorting her otherwise beautiful complexion.

“Because what you say is a lie, it’s unbelievable, and it’ll be the death of me, woman!” Joseph yelled back at her before taking another swig of wine from a goatskin bag. He has clearly been drinking most of the day, his face sluggish, eyes drawn heavy as though he were preparing for sleep. His words were frail, but loud, syllables running into one another forming what would seem to be one worded sentences.

Joseph had recently been injured on the job, like his boy, he was a carpenter and was a master at his craft. An unexpected accident had made a heavy stone fall from a wall of a newly constructed building. The stone crashed against his leg, easily breaking it. Fortunately, the break was clean and the village doctors believed that with the aid of God, and a splint, that he would have a full recovery. In the meantime the boy was expected to pick up the slack.

 She cradles herself in the corner of the small kitchen, dinner had yet to be prepared, the chicken hanging by its ankles, skinned, and bled. It had only needed to be put on the stove. A step that was clearly derailed by the argument that incurred. She began to cry, placing her head between her knees, wrapping her arms over the back of her skull. She sulked as Joseph stumbled to the door with his makeshift wooden crutch after hearing a noise.

The boy cursed at himself, the wind had picked up and sand got into his eyes. In the distress of the storm and the chaos on the other side of the door, he had tripped into it. His shoulder made a quick and sudden thud against the door, a sound that would obviously be noticed by the tenants within. He regained his footing, looking up and waited to see if the door opens, and who would welcome him. He hoped that it was unheard and that he could slip in unnoticed.

The door flew open, Joseph stood there looking down at his son. He smelled heavily of alcohol, no doubt overcome by the anger of his injury and of the boy he denounces. The man makes a grunt, looking over his shoulder to where his wife sat in ruin, the chicken hanging ominously overhead dripping a bit of remaining blood.

“Why are you home so early?” He says with a little agitation. He looks outside and sees that the sky has become blackened, that the wind was growing stronger and more violent. He looks down at his son and grunts, nodding his head realizing then that that the boy must have been sent home early because of the storm.

“Well, get inside, boy! Don’t need you out in this weather, endangering yourself! Come, come…” His eyes were hollow, his voice seemed vicious.

The boy knew that this argument was about him and that whatever had just happened, the outcome would not fare well in his favor. He chose not to speak of it, merely nodding to his father, he comes inside. He removes his Sudra, dropping it to the floor, a pile of windswept sand crashes, spilling in the small foyer of the doorway. He pats his linen cloth, dust and debris falling off like he had buried himself under a pile of sand.

He then notices his mother still sitting on the floor of the kitchen, her face concealed behind her legs. He runs toward her, giving only a simple glare to his father, Joseph, as he passes. He places his arms around her and whispers in her ear, “I’m home momma. Did he hurt you?”

She looks up at him and smiles. Her eyes are red and wet from the tears, but there remains a glimmer within them. She speaks with a weak and troubled voice, “My dearest son, Jesus.” She places the back of her hand on his cheek and then leans her head toward his shoulder. She makes sure to conceal her swollen cheek as best as she could. She shakes her head ever so softly and says to him, “I’m fine, my dearest one. I’m just glad you’re home.” 

<… To be continued?>

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