Monday, February 10, 2014

"Inkweaver" Excerpt: The Morning After

The next morning, I was grateful for the way my friends treated me gently, letting me rest from the previous day’s escapade. Larryn, as usual, overflowed with energy to face the day.
“Get ready, Shereya,” she said, holding the tapestry like a newspaper as I picked at my breakfast the next morning. “I think we shall very soon come upon a certain event involving a rich dignitary of some sort in which you must play a part.” She indicated a section of the tapestry that showed a character resembling me in the midst of discourse with an official in Aberonian livery.
“That’s probably the count,” I said, squinting at the figure. Of course I knew at once that it wasn’t, but I wanted to leave as soon as possible. “It’s a scene from last night, I think.”
“No,” Larryn pointed to another part of the tapestry, “Last night shows you in that fussy dress you wore. See? You’re wearing this very outfit in this scene.”
At that moment, Belak entered the room. He was smiling, ready for anything—like he always had been, since I first knew him.
“What’s on the agenda today, girls?” he asked us.
“We’re leaving,” I said, at the same time Larryn maintained, “I think we should stay at least another day.”
I gave Larryn a hard stare. “I don’t see any reason to stay in Aberon.”
“Yes you do!” Larryn retorted. For once she did not spout off about the tapestry and my destiny. I was getting weary of her doing that in front of Belak, who surely thought we were mad. She grabbed my hand. “Let’s just take a walk for now.”
I had no objections to activity—so long as it sped us on our way. I followed Larryn once more out to the streets of Aberon. For once, I didn’t care to see the sights of a city so different from our own village; I feared that if I looked too hard, I might see a situation that reflected my dream.
“Look!” Larryn cried, with such fervor that of course I had to.
I saw nothing spectacular about the sight she indicated. “Larryn,” I murmured to her, “It’s nothing but a young man sitting in front of his house.”
“Yes,” she said, glancing significantly at me, “but how many young men do you know pass their days sitting?” I failed (or refused) to see her meaning, so she took it upon herself to act. “Hello!” she called to the young man.
He looked up, squinted a bit, and smiled at us, waving pleasantly enough.
Larryn was determined that he should prove her theory correct. “What is a strong young man like you doing sitting at home like an old woman?”
“Larryn!” I hissed; what did she hope to prove by insulting him?
Luckily, the young man was good-natured enough not to take offense at her brazenness.
“I’ll have you to know that I remain at home today for the good of my health!” he informed her.
“Are you ill?” Larryn asked.
“Hearty as an ox!” the young man answered. “It’s my day off today.”
“Oh, pardon,” Larryn rejoined, and only I could detect the note of sarcasm in her voice, “I did not realize today was a holiday in Aberon.”
“No more than in the rest of the world,” the man allowed mildly. “But I have been feeling a bit overworked for about a week now, so I asked leave of my employer to rest until I felt well enough to return to working.”
Belak chuckled, “Now there’s the kind of employer I’d like to work for!”
I felt the words escape my mouth before I could stop them. “If you think that taking days off till you feel like returning is a good work ethic, then you will find only poverty, as no one will hire a slacker.”
I clapped my mouth shut; how could I talk to Belak this way? He stared at me with such a confused, hurt expression that I knew the words could not have been mine—but only I knew they were the exact words of the Inkweaver that she had been telling me for the last two nights.
Larryn grinned at me, “Now you’re talking! Say that a little louder so our new friend yonder can hear!”
“Certainly not!” I snapped, moving on as my whole face burned with shame.
“Come, Shereya,” Larryn begged, trotting after me. “You can’t blaze through this whole town without at least trying to help someone, at least!”
“Watch me!” I called over my shoulder.
“All right, Larryn, that’s enough,” I heard Belak step in and come to my defense. “Maybe it’s safer for us if Shereya doesn’t try to meddle where she’s not meant to be.”
“But she is meant to be!” Larryn insisted. “I think the whole point of the existence of this tapestry—which is the very reason for our journey—is to teach Shereya the Shrinking Violet the importance of taking risks!”
I froze in my tracks, lest I got so far away from my friends that I would miss the conversation, or run into another one of Larryn’s “risks” unprotected.

“Consider the other side, though, Larryn,” Greyna spoke up. “Taking risks purely for their own sakes would not be wise, either. One must ascertain the amount of risk before jumping into it.”
This resonated with my own feelings on the matter. I felt safe enough to return and give Larryn my rebuttal.
I walked back to the group as Greyna finished speaking and said, “That is how I feel on the matter, Larryn; I want to be the one to decide what risks to take, not some picture on a cloth. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean I have to take it!”
My friend was undeterred. “But maybe you should, for once!” she crossed her arms and stared hard at me. “I dare you, Shereya: go ahead and find yourself a risk here in Aberon, and take it—I see you need to prove to yourself that one cannot see the worth of a risk until one takes the leap of faith.”
I held Larryn’s gaze; she didn’t think I had the capacity to believe in something enough to follow through with it? I would show her where risk-taking got me!
“I accept your challenge,” I stated, and marched away toward the center of town.