Thursday, April 6, 2017

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learning to burn, part 29

Uncut, uncensored... you've got the first draft of Learning to Burn here, folks... as such, please be aware that this includes all strange notes to myself (because I forget things) and totally horrible grammar, punctuation, and so forth!

Make sure you go to the beginning to read if you haven't been following along to read weekly.

Terlania Agnasia Molerandus. She went against her mother's recommendation and took my father's last name when they married. She's mostly known as Lani Spofferandus and has been for longer than I've been alive. At least, that's all I've ever known her to be called and what she says is her name.”
“Lani. Spofferandus, you say. There is something familiar in the name. I will consider and let you know if I remember anything, Eminghare.”
Rumier leans close to Eminghare, “She has a difficult time remembering as her time nears for the birth of the baby. If there is anything to remember, she will make sure to tell you. It might take a couple days for it to come back. She is much older than she looks and has much to remember. And, of course, she has a lot on her mind now, too.”
“I can't even imagine. I mean, just with her family, but it seems like she does a lot more than that!”
“Yes. She is always working on something. Most of the work she does is in her mind. So, it's amazing that she's able to remember much most of the time.”
Eminghare nods her head.
Ofonode watches with slightly squinted eyes, trying hard to feel and think nothing he would be embarrassed for Eminghare to know.
Jander sticks a finger into Ofonode's side. The older boy looks at the younger, “What do you need, little guy?”
“I thought you'd want to know that your hair is glowing and lifting on the ends. And it's pretty obvious that you don't like my brother talking to your friend. You might want to do something about that before anyone else notices.”
“Yeah.” Ofonode laughs nervously, “I do want to. Thanks my little friend.” Ofonode grips some of his hair and focuses on the ends, imagining them their normal red, rather than the glowing electric red of hair with flame in it.
Leaning close, Jander says, “You did it faster that way. Looking at it helps, I guess?”
“Maybe. I've never tried it before. When I need to get the flames gone again, I'll try that way and let you know if it works as well.”
“I just think it's the coolest. And even though you said I shouldn't wish for it, I do. I'd love to light up like that. I bet there's all kinds of good stuff you could do with a gift like that.”
“Oh? What good do you think I can do, Jander?”
“I don't know. Don't you know? I mean, you could be a sort of night light for someone who's afraid of the dark, right? You could probably start a fire… even with wet stuff. And since fire is a manifestation of heat energy, there's probably way more you can do if you can focus really carefully. I'd have to think about it more. If I had your gift, I would think about it all the time and work on focusing the energy of my flame.”
“Well, I have tried, Jander. Before I left my village, I had no control of it at all. Actually, it only just started right before I left. I've been trying to learn to burn my whole life.”
“Oh. Well, that could be upsetting.”
“It was. I keep hoping I'll figure out what works every time. It's a bit embarrassing to not even know my hair has started floating because my flame is out of control.”
Ofonode looks back over at Eminghare. Rumier is laughing and Eminghare smiling. Ofonode sighs and turns back to Jander, “I'd like to know what you come up with… you know, what you think I could do with this gift, as you call it. Will you think about it and tell me?”
“Sure thing, Ofonode.” Jander lights up with a huge smile.
Ofonode quietly watches Eminghare for the rest of dinner. She and Rumier speak often.
Lady Grace finishes eating and stands. The gentle murmur of conversation subsided immediately. Lady Grace begins almost as soon as the silence begins, “Please excuse me. My back is troubling me and I feel very tired. If you are unsure what comes next, please speak to either Rumier or Sanellia. They will be able to direct you from here. Thank you for joining us, my friends. I hope you will sleep well and have an even better day tomorrow than you have, heretofore had.” She immediately slides from her place and floats out of the dining room as almost everyone watches her.
“Is she going to be okay?” Eminghare asks Rumier.
“Yes. She usually gets more easily fatigued at the end of pregnancy and needs more rest. I think it's pretty common for most women, actually.”
“I guess I never really paid attention to all that.”
“Well, you'll likely have opportunity to learn all about it for yourself, right?”
“Um, well… I guess. I haven't really planned on having children. I don't particularly enjoy other peoples' children. So, I think I would be a bad mom.”
“My mother said the same thing before she met my father! You might not believe it, but it's absolutely true. She never would have thought she'd have as many children as she has now when she was a student.”
“Okay. Well, I don't know if I want to get married and I definitely do not want to have children by myself. So, it probably just won't happen.”
Ofonode looked sharply over at Eminghare. She shrugged her shoulders, almost as if she didn't want his eyes on her.
“Why wouldn't you want to get married?” Rumier asked her.
“It doesn't seem like a very good idea. I mean, in my opinion, the only reason to get married is to have children and since I don't want to have children, I'd rather not deal with the burden of getting married.”
“You think marriage is a burden?”
“It absolutely is! Not to one person, but to both.”
“That's one way to think about it, I guess. I mean, there are times when my parents' marriage has seemed like a lot of work. I think about it in a really different way, I guess. To me, marriage is a privilege to be carefully sought out. Every privilege I've had, I earned by working for it. So, I guess it only makes sense to me that marriage would be work since it's basically the greatest privilege any man or woman can aspire to.”
“You actually believe that?” Eminghare had a strange expression on her face. It wasn't clear by her tone, inflection, or expression whether she was disgusted or otherwise impressed by Rumier's words.
“Absolutely. I think most, if not all of us do.”
“You mean, your brothers and sisters?”
“Definitely all of us, but no, I mean all of us who live here in THE NAME OF THE CITY.”
“Really? That seems… well, a bit unlikely. How could that be?”
“Like attracts like, I suppose, is the only real explanation for it. And my mother has cultivated the environment of our home and city to grow in harmony and unity. She is really an amazing being!”
“So, your mother is more like the Queen of NAME OF CITY? I mean, does she approve applications to live here or something?”
“No. Not at all. She doesn't actually have a title at all. Didn't she tell you she's just Grace? People just call her Lady Grace no matter how much she tells them not to. I think she's beginning to accept it. She's just who she is. Folks look to her for leadership, but she doesn't hold an office of any sort in the city.”
“That's pretty… well, I guess unusual is the only word for it.”
“Yeah. We've heard that before. We've also heard a few other words that aren't quite as neutral. I'm pretty sure those who thought more negatively don't live here any longer. It's difficult to continue here if you are determined to be negative in any way.”
“NAME OF CITY must be a really great place to live. If it is, why are there so many homeless here?”
“Just because a place is good, doesn't make it perfect in every way. Bad things happen to good people, Eminghare. Here just like anywhere else. But it really is a good place. It's probably one of the best there is.”
“Why ever would you want to leave, then?”
“My desire to travel and see what there is to see has little to nothing to do with my city. That's about my own desire to learn and grow and gain experience. You really should avoid generalizing and drawing such faulty conclusions without asking more questions. I might think you were less intelligent than I know you are if I were hastier.”
“I guess you already sort of told me that. Please forgive me if I have offended you. I didn't intend offense, for sure.”
“None taken. You simply revealed your thinking and because I would like us to be friends, I warned you. Generalizations are rarely a good idea in communication.”
“You're right. I will consider my questions… no, I will think more carefully about my words.”
Rumier nods his head and looks over at Sanelia. Two men and a woman who just finished the dinners were approaching her. Rumier stood up quickly and quietly and walked over to them. When he entered the conversation, Sanelia looked tremendously relieved and returned to helping the little ones on either side of her.
A moment later Rumier calls, “Ofonode!” and without looking at him, “Would you help me with these fellows?”
Ofonode walks over, “Sure. What may I do to be a help?”
“These two have large bags and their shoulders are bruised from their travels. Would you carry their bags for them?” Glancing up at his younger brother, Rumier continues, “Jander will show you the room these fellas will sleep in tonight.”
Jander runs lightly over. “I could carry one, Rumier.”
“No. These are a bit much for you. I'm sure Ofonode can handle it, though.”
The youngster looks disappointed, “Okay guys. We go this way.” Jander looks at the woman standing with the men, “Sanelia will take you to the women's room when she's finished eating. You can sit on the bench outside of that door right there.” Jander indicates the door almost right behind where Sanelia is sitting.
Before they move, Sanelia looks up and sees Ofonode for the first time. She gasps and grabs his arm, “Who are you?” she whispers.
Rumier and Jander look surprised at her behavior.
“My name is Ofonode.”
“Why are you here?” Sanelia asks him.
“I am seeking a people and believe I know where to find them. So, I'm stopping here to work and live until I can continue my journey to find them.”
“I see.” Sanelia releases Ofonode's arm. “You and I may not like it, but I will travel with you when you depart.”
“What?!” Ofonode's face turns hot in an instant. He's completely unsure how to interpret Sanelia's words and shocked that one of the most beautiful females he's ever seen has grabbed him, questioned him, and then spoken to him as she has.
Jander pokes an elbow into Ofonode's side. When Ofonode looks at him, the boy lifts the ends of his own hair.
“Perhaps we will have opportunity to discuss this further at some point in the coming days. For now, I was asked to help these men with their bags.”
“Yes, you must go. But there is nothing to discuss. I will know when you're leaving and will accompany you. It is a shock to see you so soon.” Sanelia looks away from him and turns her whole attention again to the little ones around her.
Ofonode feels the complete dismissal in her behavior. Jander walks ahead of him, inviting the men to come with him. Ofonode follows, silently thoughtful, out the dining room and through a series of hallways lines with doors. Jander is chatting with the men, but Ofondoe only hears their conversation as a murmur behind his confusion about the interaction with Sanelia.

When Ofonode returns to the dining room, only Oseratin is there. “It's time to go to sleep. I've already been to the room they have given us.”
“I hope you remember how to get there. It took me forever to find my way back here! This place is enormous!”
“It may well be very large on the inside, my boy. But I assure you, it is not nearly so large on the outside. What's more, I think it is only ever as big as it needs to be.”
“Os, I feel way too tired to think about any riddles tonight. Can you just speak plain for me?”
“I've just spoken as plainly as I can. Perhaps, though, it is more information that you need for now. That's all right. Let's just get to bed. We can talk more tomorrow.”
“That sounds perfect.”
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