He wiped at the sweat that broke from his brows…he fasted his hands on the handle of the stick..and stared hard.
He was scared..tried not too show it…he knew it could smell fear…but he refused to give in yet.
He looked to the far side of the forest..bared..narrow..he could make a run for it..and run back to the village..to the confines of his home..into the comfort…into the arms of his mother.
The ever welcoming arms of his mother..she wouldn’t turn him away…instead she would hold him tight and safe and him from his fear…
She would press him in her bosom..kiss his brows..and tell him she would protect him from everything…
She would say its ok to be scared. It makes you human. I don’t need to prove anything…i could come on inside and she would make me soup and a warm bath and i could lie on her lap while she creamed my body as she has always done 14years ago.
She saw me as that lil babe..in that lil bundle of joy..tiny hands and feet..so beautiful,pure and perfect…and has no business going into the wild to fight out the wild animals and bring home a trophy to prove you are a man..she still doesn’t sit well with all the forsaken traditions they put young ones to..especially her lilttle baby…
But that wouldn’t help …he couldn’t run back to mama. the shame that he would bring on them..the mark he would carry on his arm for the rest of his life..stigma of failure. No!!
Every young boy went through this..it was a ritual..a rite of passage..he was up to age..he couldn’t hide from it.
“You must go out there and be a man..” His father said.
“You must’nt be afraid. Even if you can’t do it..don’t be afraid. Come straight home. No harm would come to you” ..his mother said.
“You shaLl not bring shame into my house..! I did it..my father..heck!! The whole generation of men did it..you would not be an exception young man..you shant dent the name that holds much power. You would go out there, bring me a Deer’s head and be proud of it!!!
….Larkin looked worried!
He was only 14. What and how was this to haPpen…he wept silently.
The village was filled with excitement and busyness.
18 other boys had joined him in the village square by now.
All bared chested like him. Painted absurdly. Only him had one talisman mark on his arm and back though because he was royal. But still the royal household has to lead by example!
Oh he hated being a boy right now.
He wished otherwise..but then again…the girlfolk debunte had alot of “coming out dances”..baring all…and carrying dangling beads around neck, waiste and ankles..and sing songs and walk around the village square and be assigned to some woman to tutor for a certain period of time..once its been completed and you pass it..you know..do well..you would be pronouced equiped…and proceed to womanhood and do all the thingies involved…BLAH!!
That seemed too….Eeergh!! Gurlie and energy zapping…just kill a frigging animal and get its head right?
How hard can that be??
Larkin shifted on his side..it wasn’t a deer alright!
It was worse!..
Tigers don’t look so fierce do they?
With all their finerys for skin..whiskers all long and..catlike eyes..
And it was coming for him..
They had separated all the boys and sent them to the forest..with water..small bread..a stone and a stick…and told them..”Survive”.
Larkin had managed to live on water..picked up fruits…wasn’t too awesome in making a fire for the first few days..but he had worked it out some how and then…hiden from the animals.
He was sore..tired and wanted home.
But today…he was either going to live or die!!
It had made its way to his fortress of solitude..and larkin hide on the tree and then had come down when he thought it had eaten what it wanted and gone.
Animals are a lot smarter.
Now face to face..
Larkin’s thoughts of life flashed before his eyes..
If anyone told him not to be scared at this moment he could ripp out their heart and feed it to the maggots that had piled over the crumps of rotten fruits.
Bring me a head”..his father said.
Let every boy prove himself worthy to be called a man and present a worthy offerring to the gods..” The people cued.
“Don’t need to show anything when you can’t. You would come home and i’ll be here..to accept you”..:his mother said.
“Run!!…his heart pounded against his chest!
“Ya gonna die..like a rat!! Run tha fuck outta here!! Don’t say i dint warn you.
You just 14.
Ya don’t have to safe the world..they can come get their own damn head those fucking midgets..!!”….his insides screamed!
Larkin blooded grew warm..heart pounding a thousand times per minute..peed on himself..all in a few seconds…
The tiger watched the human..
Small..fresh…stupid to be alone..tasty to the stomach..ready for a kill…it plunged ahead..full throtle..all fours…he would go for the neck..quick and silent kill…
Today was a good day!..-it mused”
Just when…at that exact moment..just as soon as death seemed the only excape to larkin’s delima..just as soon…he felt nothing.
The tiger lounged forward…unto his victim..at the impact..larkin fell backward..using his arm to wedge…that was seared painfully as its fangs for teeth sank into it..
The screams were deafening..yes!!
He screamed..just then..he used his spear..tilted during the hit and plunged upward a thousand times cotntinuesly while he screamed and being dragged…
From extreme pain..he kept jabbing..dragged and he went at it..
He felt himself blanking out just as soon as he was hit in the head with its hind-leg..in an attempt to ward off the spear hits…until it stopped and fell forward..halfway over larkin.
He knew fear..he welcomed it…let it fester..and it burned!!
He woke up after a couple of hours..smeared with blood and the weight of an animal on his form.
While he struggled from under it..
It took him awhile to get..it done..dripping thick loshes of blood..he picked up his necessities and made a long trek out of the wild forest…
Little rays of light up ahead…absense of rain..and a period of weeks as ensued without him knowing…
For when he hadn’t shown up when the appointed time was recommended..they scared the worse. And as tradition..it is forbidden for a search party to be carried out. You go in alone and out alone.
As larkin dragged his little form…
A thousand miles worth of treking..stopping to eat, rest..and sleep and continue.
He saw the gate..
He saw…candle lights burning for those who didn’t return.
He saw..manted..talisman signifying the success of others..he saw the royal family..and he saw his lighted candle..
Mother…sprayled..on the ground..refusing attendance..swollen eyes and chicks.
Father pacing and cursing
Villages..some mocking..some sympathetic. Others gyrating for the successes of their own.
He saw his candle…he thought..
…They heard the tiny voice. The rustling of the wind..the clang of steel…the sound of an ankle bead jungled together.
He was the last to return!! No one expected to have seen him make it.
Father stood transfixed.
The eyes followed the movement from mother to father to son and then his gift…while others brought domestic animal’s head..he came with a wildling….
….She didn’t cradle him into her arms..
She came to him. Tears in her eyes..knelt down before him…wiped the blood on his face with her cloth…felt his body….wound up his hurt arm..smiled up at him..
“You..larkin..my baby…the royal son..able to do that is required. A father’s pride, a clan leader…a mother’s joy…that you returned”..
“A larkinite!!!”-chorused the people”
“The lion…the house of uncommon gifts…the larkinites of royal blood…a true glaronian!..the father said.
You have returned..you made made me and all proud.
“Turn off that darn candle light!
We forbide it to burn!
Larkin has returned whom we feared dead..bring with him much more than we sought!…
..He looks to larkin..
“Son…you saw death and wasn’t scared..for that i am pleased.”
Scared i was. I am just a boy
But to death i said..”Not today!!!!”
…..He dropped the head..and walked into the palace…straight back..head held high…poised as a prince..aura of greatness and as his shadow fell on everyone..their knees touched the ground..heads bowed.
Somewhere between all this..a mother’s smile. “My baby…my son..today..you became a man”