Thursday, September 22, 2016

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learning to burn part 3


Please begin at the beginning!

As Kokofeko began to wake Ofonode, she watched him closely. She was sure she'd seen him beginning to flare when he was frustrated and annoyed. If he was flaming in anger, she needed to know so she could help him gain control of his burn and direct it for good.

Very gently, at first, she called his name, but he didn't stir at all. After nudging him and calling his name, she pulled the sheet off with a jerk. He'd been holding it, so when she moved the fabric from his grasp, it pulled his arms and awakened him with a start.

He was, as she'd hoped, very agitated and she watched as sparks flared from his eyes and his skin began to look warm. She soothingly spoke his name and told him it was time to rise. “I've been trying to wake you for five minutes, Ofonode. Does your stomach hurt now?”

My stomach? No. No. It doesn't hurt anymore. I'm okay. I was having a good dream about my parents and was snatched out of it. I'm sorry if I reacted poorly or was difficult to waken.”

It is just as I suspected, my nephew. You are just like my Father and his father before him. I did not know your father well, but my sister… well, she was very much like our father. Have I ever told you how she began to burn?”

No. I guess you haven't. I've heard the story of my dad's first flares. You never told me about those, either, though.”

Well, the subject of greater interest now is your mother's burning. I believe you are like her in this, Ofonode.”

I don't really know what you mean.”

Well, I have a story to tell and then you might begin to see.”

Okay. You know I like stories.”

So let us gather our breakfast and sit together and I will tell you this story.”




Kokofeko left his room and he dressed quickly and joined his Aunt in the main living space in the dwelling they shared. She had already gathered almost everything. All that was left to do was get the cups from the simple open shelves above the bowl sink and fill them with water. As he pulled down the cups, he checked the water pitcher. It was completely empty. He looked into the larger water vessel and it, too, was empty. He felt anger rise within as his Aunt told him she would finish the food preparation if he would fetch their water.


Kokofeko watched as sparks flew from Ofonode's eyes. His skin was such a pleasant light shade of orange. She felt sure that when he fully ignited it would be a consuming blaze. She wondered if he had any clue at all.

When Ofonode looked at his Aunt, she was watching him very closely. Although she'd been watching him in this same way a lot lately, he felt really annoyed by it today. He lifted the empty pitcher, “Yes, Auntie. I will.”

She watched as the sparks from his eyes grew into flames that seemed to form a mask across the top of his face. As she watched him carefully, she decided he didn't know he was already igniting partially. Now, to determine how she would help him understand what she could plainly see.
Ofonode felt like he hadn't slept at all and wondered why. He definitely went to bed early enough to get plenty of rest through the night. He felt annoyed and frustrated about filling the water before he'd even had a bite to eat. As he filled the water pitcher, he was focused internally. He didn't see the people around him watching him carefully.

Upon returning to their dwelling, Kokofeko observed the way the tips of Ofonode's hair were beginning to float behind him. She could also plainly see that he hadn't looked into the well. Surely he would have seen what she could see if he were present in the moment rather than thinking of something else.

Ofonode, please pour the water into the vessel. I need you to return to the well and fill the pitcher again, please.”

Hunger added to the anger gnawing at Ofonode's belly and he snorted, “May I eat something first?”
No. We need more water immediately, my nephew.”

Yes, Auntie.” His tone was measured, but Kokofeko could easily see Ofonode was getting angrier as flames encompassed his head, but remained very close to his skin. He wasn't really angry yet. What a blaze he would produce, she wondered.

This time, Ofonode felt just angry enough to want to argue with someone. Everyone who was up and about seemed to give him a great deal more room than normal. Most everyone who looked him looked away quickly. He couldn't look in the face of anyone and hold their eyes, they turned away as soon as they glanced his way.

Arriving at the well, Ofonode felt confused as well as frustration verging on anger and dipped the pitcher in the water as he looked down at what he did. He stopped with the pitcher submerged, wondering if he'd seen fire near him, he looked around to see if anyone alight was around him. No one. When he looked back down into the water, the disturbance he'd caused was calm and he could easily see himself around his hand in the water.

Shocked, he dropped the pitcher and stepped back. The old man of the well didn't miss a beat. He fished the pitcher out and held it out for Ofonode, but wouldn't look him in the face.

Do you see, Egose? Can you see me?” Ofonode was almost afraid to look into the well again. Though he wasn't sure if he was afraid he would see… or that he wouldn't see flames crawling over the skin of his face.

Plain as day. I see.”

But am I alight? Egose, Did you see flames on me?”

I'm an old man. Not an idiot. Or blind. Of course I did.”

Quickly, tell me, are they gone now?”

Diminished, but still dancing. Ofonode, your Aunt is waiting.”

Ofonode stepped to the well again and looked in. Even though he was expecting it this time, he was surprised to see small flames dancing on his skin and lifting the ends of his hair. He took the full pitcher and walked as quickly as he could to his dwelling.

Auntie. Auntie! I was on fire. Just my head, but it was quite a lot when I first saw myself in the water of the well. Can you believe it? I wasn't even trying! All those practices and I still haven't done it, but I was just now on fire!”

Yes. I can believe it. I'm glad you've finally seen it. This is why I want to tell you a story about your mother. Please. Come and sit with me.” As soon as Ofonode sets the water pitcher down on the table, Kokofeko grasps his hands and guides him to sit next to her.

Is everything all right, Auntie? Isn't this good news?”

Igniting is always a blessing. I just need to tell you a story, my nephew. Eat the dodo, sinasir, and drink the groundnut milk I prepared for you.”

Looking at the food, Ofonode feels his stomach clench with hunger. He reaches for some food and begins to eat just as Kokofeko begins her story.

To continue reading, click HERE on December 1, 2016.
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