Day Three: 1,555 words. (Total: 4,341)
Mesaul motioned for a laborer to bring him a drink and ignored the many villagers that congratulated him on the sure victory tomorrow. When the worker returned with a husk of rum, it was almost tipped over as Tuang ran full-force to embrace his father. The well-dressed boy jumped in circles, detailing every moment of the volley match to his father. The words felt like throbbing blisters to Mesaul and he looked around the room for his wife as his child spat sentence after sentence. The balding man felt so dizzy.
“Dad. Dad. Dad! Can you buy me another volleyball?”
The man made a noise sort of between a ‘Yeah’ and a ‘Sure’. While his son contemplated what that sound meant, Mesaul at last raised his cup of rum and began to drink. He looked genuinely happy as he pressed the chilled beverage to his lips, but that expression turned to fear and he spat the liquor from his mouth as his eyes met a scowling woman. Her arms were folded, and her perfectly manicured nails were sharp. The fearful man calculated how quick those nails could launch towards his face.
The oblivious boy interrupted the tense moment, “Hi mom! Dad’s going to buy me a new volleyball. I want a blue one. Orange and blue. Maybe yellow and blue. But not green. Dad says people who wear green are smeche-”
Mesaul quickly covered his son’s mouth as his wife’s patience hung by a thread, “You’ll have the finest ball, made from the finest leather in blue, yellow, AND orange.”
His wife rolled her eyes, “How can you let that hyena-faced woman get away with this? She bullied our poor child and yet people look up to her as a leader.”
“My darling, she has but a title. Tonight we can watch and rejoice when the whole village sees her as the clownfish she truly is.”
She scoffed, “Clownfish is a compliment to her appearance.”
He staggered to his wife and kissed her cheek, “Imangel, my sweet, all will be as it should.”
She smiled like a lioness would before sinking her teeth in a boar’s neck. The family moved to the village square where they danced to the beating drums. Mesaul began to feel ill, but knew his wife would not wish to leave the square so early. After all, she wore her ground-length red dress with long flowing sleeves, a pearl necklace that had enough stones to wrap five necks, and her hair was braided up onto her head adorned with more pearls. Imangel loved nothing more than to show off her rich ensembles. Perhaps the only thing she loved more was critiquing the clothes of others. But one thing she certainly did not like was rain and to Mesaul’s luck, the rains were coming down not far from the square. Many continued to dance and party, but others, Mesaul’s family being one, rushed back to their homes to avoid getting wet.
The balding man walked slow behind his son and wife down the west pathway towards the hills. As they ascended the hill, the huts along the path grew larger. Mesaul giggled to himself wondering how anyone could live in a home so small. After walking for what seemed to be half a notch on the sundial, they made it up to a plateau where the huts were the largest of the whole island. Mesaul stayed behind a moment to catch his breath and watched his family enter the stone hut overlooking the ocean. He payed no mind to the storm and entered the hut as well. He was greeted by a laborer, whom he handed his shaw before plopping down on a cushioned bench.
“Rum.” He said to the laborer, avoiding his wife’s annoyed gaze.
The laborers worked quick and placed plates of thinly sliced pork, barbecued yams, coconut milk, and rum to drink. Mesaul ignored his food and focused on his drink while his son ate like a starved shark and his wife picked disappointed. The wife sighed loudly causing everyone to turn to her.
“Pork again? Has our cook no creativity?”
With no emotion, Mesaul snapped his fingers for the girl who served the food to enter, “Three lashings for the cook.”
The girl bowed her head and before she could exit, the wife chimed in, “Make it five. I will go hungry tonight.”
Mesaul’s son didn’t miss a beat as he piled food in his mouth, “When will the lashing be held?”
“After the festival. People don’t like to see blood when they celebrate,” the father replied in a matter-of-fact tone.
“What of the trial?” the boy asked with a wide grin, “If it’s true that tomorrow is hosted by the sailfish then the trial will be a sword fight for sure!”
Mesaul laughed, “And I take it you’ll spill the most blood, Tuang.”
Imangel had an uneasy look in her eyes, but the son continued proudly, “I will earn our family’s fifth totem no matter how much blood it takes.”
Tuang’s mother dropped her bark plate on the floor out of spite and exited the room stomping leaving the two males to discuss the festival. She entered her bedroom, sat down, removed her jewels, and unbraided her hair. It troubled her when her son spoke with such violence. Imangel loved her life, and her riches, and of course her status, but it dawned on her that all of it may have came at a price. She wasn’t overly tired, but chose to sleep.
Meanwhile, Mesaul led his son to the backyard. It was landscaped with large bushes containing star-shaped white flowers, ferns, coconut palms, and a small garden that their chef used to grow fresh root vegetables. The center piece of the yard was four large animal totems carved from a glossy black ore. Starting from left, there was an owl perched on a branch with a rat crushed in his talons, a fruit bat in flight with it’s mouth open wide, a fat toad, and a much too happy gecko.
Mesaul turned to his son, “Every man since my great-grandfather has earned a totem for this family. They have faced the trials and proved victorious. You too, my son, will be awarded by the spirits.”
Tuang grinned, “What beasts did you fight? What monster did you best to earn your totem?”
He scratched his head, “Well, none. It was a Full Moon Trial like tomorrow; those stay fairly tame. But the honor is that the spirits themselves choose the participants. It is fate, Tuang. It is your destiny to win tomorrow’s trial and earn our family yet another totem. We were chosen to have this wealth and you will carry the legacy.”
The boy nodded, although hesitant, “But I want to fight. I don’t just want wealth. I…I want to be feared,” he wasn’t too sure himself what he was saying.
Mesaul looked uneasy, “Son, wealth is control. People fear those with such power.”
The rain finally reached the island. Mesaul walked back inside to avoid getting wet, but Tuang stayed and watched the totems. He was not fazed by the rain. Tuang loved his father, but he didn’t want to be like him, he wanted to be stronger. He thought of earlier today with the volleyball. The chieftess looked at him as if he were so small, puny, and powerless. He never wanted to be powerless. The boy rushed to the toolshed that the chef used when he worked in the garden and he grabbed a shovel. He held the tool like a sword and ran on the pathway down the plateau. He cut off the path, through a hut’s yard, and into the jungle. The palms shook as the hurricane was not far off. Tuang paid no mind and pushed deeper into the maze of trees. Shovel in hand, he swung it into a bush, chopping it down. The boy looked pleased with himself. He chopped down another and another. He swung the shovel without mercy, but all of a sudden, there was a growl that echoed through the palms. He lost him balance and fell, his head mere inches from the sharp spade.
Rushing to his feet, he held the shovel high, “Who’s there?” he was furious and spun around looking for the culprit, “Show yourself!”
He heard hooves and in an instant turned to see a boar, ready to charge.Tuang pointed the spade at the pig and stood his ground. He wouldn’t fear anything. The boar began to charge. He gritted his teeth. The boar snorted and raised its tusks high. He was ready. This was it. This would prove his power, taking on a boar twice his size. Tuang’s face lit up so happy. The boar was close. The tusks were sharp.
“TUANG!” and voice yelled, scaring the pig and sending it running into the jungle.
The boy’s eyes welled up. His father embraced him and carried him back to the path, escorted by a laborer. His mother awaited them on the pathway. She looked so scared. Tuang didn’t care. His parents asked him so many questions, but he didn’t answer. He hardly even listen; he was just so angry. This was his chance to prove his own power and yet again he was scooped up and pampered by sheer luck.