Tuesday, 07 August 2012

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The Sorrows of Young A., Part I [If this strikes you as a peculiar thing to appear on this blog, that's only because it is. It's a serialized novel that I'll be writing over the next few months.] He remembers the first time it happened. It is his earliest memory. A. had awoken eager to walk along the banks of one of the city's three rivers—he cannot remember which one—on that morning. He cherished these rare moments to himself, far from the wailing of E., his new brother. His mother insisted he not stray too far from home, but A. knew the area well and that E. would prevent her from following him, so he ranged rather further than he led her to believe. But on this particular morning, A. felt differently adventurous, so he followed his father to the small walled garden occupied by his family's honey bees. The bees frightened him, but he thought if he harvested a comb of honey he could prove to his father he was more worthy of attention than E. He hid behind the bushes lining the front wall and waited for his father to leave. It felt like hours before his father tired of his toil, but eventually he exited the small garden through the side gate and made for his favored tavern. A. allowed a few minutes to pass in case his father—who was always forgetting something—had forgotten something. He emerged from the bushes and approached the clay pots that housed the hives. When the first bee crawled from the nearest pot and took flight, A. felt a strong urge to follow suit. He closed his eyes. He heard the bee circle his head twice, then once more, before he felt it settle on his shoulder. He wondered whether the bee recognized that he was his father's son and pride shuddered through his young body. The bee had tested him and not found him wanting. His mettle steeled, he opened his eyes and glanced at his shoulder. The tiny bee made no effort to sting him, nor did it seem in any hurry to leave. A. took this as a good omen and stepped closer to the hive from which his new friend had departed. He reached the hive and peered down into it. His new friend had many old ones. They danced up and down the walls of the honey combs in what A. could discern to be a pattern. He admired the orderliness of their movement, though he could not discover its purpose. Suddenly, he heard a footfall from beyond the wall. It had the character of a sound made by someone trying not to make sound. A. knew it could not be his father, because when his father returned from the tavern his feet made no effort to hide their tread. He waited, as still and silent in the garden as his new friend was upon his shoulder. One minute passed. Two minutes. Three. He decided that he had imagined the sound and returned his...

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