This is something new–not poetry! “Mavlo’s Education” is the result of accepting a flash fiction challenge from a writer I admire.
See: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/blog/ for Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Use five of ten random words, write a short, 1000 word story, post on your blog and provide a link. Here are the first five random words I chose and I used them in order for even more fun-in-writing: Whalebone Foxglove Djinn Orphan Lollipop
The boy with thick blonde hair, brown eyes and budding muscles performed his sleep and dreaming in a crude hut on the shore of a western continent, about 38 degrees north of an unfamiliar equator. He woke with the sun, listened for weather and waves, drank a handful of rainwater from the hollow of an unusual rock, chewed a few black walnuts and a swallowed a handful of dried cherries.
“Now,” he thought using images, not words, “I will make a new adventure.”
Walking through a field of tall foxglove lit with the sound of buzzing bees, Mavlo put each foot forward exactly eleven marks at a time. “O, Uh, E, M, Ah, Buh, I, Ss, Tuh, Zet, Juh,” he counted by his own system. Using an invented ruler, the boy believed that measuring movement on a curve was the best game he’d ever played.
One warm sunset several days before, when the idea of counting steps to make magic was a blue dot in his imagination, Mavlo found a white curved stick, like wood but not wood—unbeknownst to him, a piece of whalebone—sticking out of the spiky beach grass on a wide stretch of sand between his hut and the sea’s lip. At first he tossed it up into the air to watch it turn over on its way down to the soft dry sand. Then he flung it from the side to test horizontal airborness. Only the birds heard Mavlo’s utterances and understood his meaning to be: “This thing will bring me pleasure. With it I will construct a new world.”
It slid through the air like a djinn on a flying carpet. Mavlo had only these letters to represent the image of a bearded man with a triangle hat and billowing clothing who sat on thick cloth supported by air that he’d seen in the tattered book he found while scavenging the beach.
He had no letters to represent “book” either, because only a long-gone woman and found objects built his education. With parents as unknown as the equator, Mavlo was an orphan. He’d been made so by an ocean angry with the ship that carried the family about a mile from the shore that was the edge of his life.
From infancy to boyhood, Mavlo was raised and protected by a woman who fell into a deep sleep and never woke. When her body attracted worms and creatures with wings, Mavlo dragged her away from the shelter and into shallow water where her corpse soaked the motion of the rolling waves until it became part of the sea. He knew that the liquid that removed her tasted the same as the water that came out of his eyes.
And, it comforted him until he got used to his singularity and made a reality based on meeting his own needs, rooted in the saving grace of curiosity.
Mavlo tired of tossing the curved bone. He sat under the nut-giving tree and examined it using all of his physical and intuitive senses. Taste—no, he didn’t want to eat it. Touch—smooth, curved, satisfying in his hands. Smell—dry, no moisture scent. Sound—it was interesting to put each end into his ear, but it only served to block the sound of wind movement. Sight—white, white, white. Intuition—“How can I change this to make it more interesting?”
Taking it in hand for another walk on the beach, zigzagging from shore to meadow lawn and back, Mavlo thought and thought until hunger took over. Laying the bone at the base of a huckleberry bush, he grabbed twigs and stabbed the berries until he had collected a lollipop luncheon.
While eating and thinking, he kicked at a slice of stone until it came out of the sandy clay. Smooth and slim, knife-like, Mavlo connected the stone to the bone using his mind. When all the twigs were empty of berries, Mavlo carried the stone to the sea, washed it clean and used the sharp edge to cut marks into the bone. Careful to use the space of his thumb’s length to measure cut-marks, Mavlo soon had a whalebone ruler.
He put it down at the line where the sand was no longer wet and walked the length of its eleven-marked curve, counting in his own unique way each mark until his next footstep was planted. Then he picked up the ruler, pointed it in a new direction and took another step.
When he reached the hut, his ruler-walk ceased. He went inside the cool, dark space, put the ruler with his other collected treasures, his academe, his dictionary made of air and found objects.