Anthropology 101

{I took a little jaunt through my short story archives today and went waaaaaaaay back. When I got to this one, I stopped and read it again. I have to say I still love it as much as I did when I wrote it —- and that’s a lot.  Hope you get a chuckle out of it.}

 

JUNGLE ISLAND 2

My marriage to an anthropologist was educational – and short. Herman loved his work and was really quite vain about it. He honestly believed that there was no people group that he could not figure out and eventually befriend – even when scores of others in his field had failed.

For years, he had been studying one particular tribe of natives on a tiny island in the Pacific that most ship’s captains refused as a port of call. The tribe was said to be cannibalistic, but my Herman just knew that he could convert them after explaining how much he had studied them in order to become their friend.

On looking back, I suppose that I should have put my foot down and refused when he insisted we honeymoon on the island. But he was so certain that he could convince the natives to help him with his research. So, as usual in our relationship, I acquiesced. My friends and family scolded me for my attitude. They said Herman should be treating me like a goddess rather than just ordering me around and dragging me off to some God-forsaken island to begin our marriage.

When we booked passage on the ship, we had to pay for a skiff as well because the captain told us that he would anchor far offshore, and we would have to go the rest of the way on our own. When we left the ship, he reminded us again what fools he considered us. But Herman insisted that he had everything under control.

We hadn’t been on the island more than an hour before the tribe captured us. They were quite large – both men and women – and exceedingly dark in coloring. They bound Herman immediately and tied him to a large pole at one end of their village. I was shaking like a leaf as they approached me, but they just looked at me with wide eyes and smiles, while making the most excited conversation with each other. I could understand only a very small part of what they said – mainly by their actions.

Then four of them brought a huge carrier – sort of a chair supported between two long poles and carried by the natives. One of the men – seemingly the chief – took my hand and escorted me to the chair.They then carried me ceremonially into the center of the village and escorted me to an elevated area on which sat a throne – all inlaid with gold. I sat, still quaking inside, but almost too overcome by my curiosity to concentrate on being afraid.

Next they placed a crown of the most exquisite jewels on my head and then bowed down to the ground in front of me. Finally, I spoke and asked in my own language for an explanation. One young man came forward and spoke to me in my native tongue to explain.

Evidently my golden blond hair was a sign to them. They had been expecting the goddess of their tribe to come to them in person for many years, and the sign of her true identity was that her head would shine like the sun. So I’m to be worshiped and given every one of my heart’s desires forever. I suppose one might say that, in a way, it’s thanks to Herman that I’m being treated like a goddess.

Of course, they prepared a huge feast in celebration of my arrival, and I guess everyone would have to admit that Herman truly did give his all for the cause of getting to know this tribe of people better. Naturally, I declined any food.

I certainly miss Herman, but I have to admit that what worries me more is what will happen when my roots start to grow out.

 

 

 


 

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Daily Post Prompt: Jangle

The jangling of the bells gradually seeped into Garret’s unconsciousness and began to nudge him into a little clarity.  He listened for several moments before trying to open his eyes. When he finally lifted the heavy lids, the light seemed blinding and pain shot through is head at the entrance of that light. He immediately shut his eyelids again and groaned.

Unfortunately, the groan itself caused more pain in his head. He was lying flat on hard ground, and he tried to lift his right arm to touch his head and see if he could determine what was wrong. He did manage to get his arm up, but it felt so heavy, he didn’t bother to take it all the way to his head.

The jangling sound was coming closer, and he wondered why the sound itself didn’t cause him more pain. Maybe because it was very low-toned and rhythmic. It reminded him of something, but he couldn’t think what.  In fact, he felt as if he couldn’t think much of anything.  That scared him, but before he could delve into that problem, a gentle voice spoke to him, and a soft hand touched his shoulder.

“Mister, are you alive?”  The voice sounded young, but masculine. He opened his eyes again and, in spite of the pain, managed to roll his eyes to the side enough to see a young boy — perhaps twelve or thirteen — kneeling beside him on the ground. He spoke again. “Oh, you are alive. Thank goodness. Can you move?”

Garret put all his strength into slowly moving his head toward the boy and forcing out the words. “A little.”

The boy heaved a sigh of relief. “You’re not far from my house. I’m on my way home with our cows now, and I will tell my father. He will come for you and help you.”

Garrett gave a small nod of his head, but stopped immediately. Too much pain. So he croaked out his thanks and closed his eyelids again. The young boy patted him on the shoulder and rose, calling to his cows.  As he did so, the jangling sound, which had been intermittent during the conversation with the boy, now began its rhythmic music again as the herd evidently obeyed the boy’s command.

During the wait for the boy’s father, Garrett slipped in and out of consciousness, but his periods of lucidity were longer now and more clear. The pain had dulled a little, and when he heard an engine approaching, he took heart and even lifted his head slightly to look that direction. Pain seared him, but he took courage when he saw the old truck.

The farmer had his young boy with him, as well as another grown man. They stooped down and the second man spoke. “I was a medic in the army, sir, and I’m going to try to check you before we try to get you up.”

“Thanks,” Garrett managed to whisper. The young man began to feel Garrett’s arms and legs and press on his abdomen, checking for broken bones or internal injuries. As he worked he reported that he was fairly sure Garrett had a concussion, and that one leg was broken and a shoulder dislocated. But with the help of some splinting materials he had brought along, he felt it was safe to get Garret up and into the truck. They had already phoned the doctor before leaving the house, and he’d promised to come out to the farm when he was finished with hospital rounds.

During the transfer to the truck, Garrett lost consciousness again, but when he was finally lying flat and had a cold cloth on his head, he came to. “Can you tell us your name, Son,” the farmer asked, as he sat beside Garrett in the truck bed for the trip.

Garrett opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He couldn’t find a name — no name at all. He couldn’t find any identity in his conscious mind. He turned fear-filled eyes to the farmer.  “No sir,” Garrett said.  “I don’t know my name … I don’t know who I am ….”



Daily Post Prompt: Jangle

 

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Daily Post Writing 101: 20-Minute Stream of Consciousness — ‘Birth of a Hero’

HANDS AT KEYBOARD  SHORT FOR BLOGI’m a big fan of writing exercises, but I haven’t actually put myself through any in quite a while, so when the Daily Post started off this new term of Writing 101 with a 20-minute exercise, I decided I should go for it. Here’s their instructions:

To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write. Keep typing (or scribbling, if you prefer to handwrite for this exercise) until your twenty minutes are up. It doesn’t matter if what you write is incomplete, or nonsense, or not worthy of the “Publish” button.”

And for your first twist? Publish this stream-of-consciousness post on your blog.

So – set the timer – punch the button: GO!

Matthew couldn’t breathe. Well – no – that wasn’t right. He could breathe, but he felt as though he were being pushed through a very narrow tunnel, and it was squeezing the breath right out of him.

Whooooosh! Ah — now — now he could breathe normally again. But what had just happened? He looked around him.

Holy cow! Where am I?” Surrounded by buildings taller than anything he could have imagined, with traffic rushing past him just to his left, he felt a little dizzy and disoriented. He shook his head to try to clear it, and that’s when he noticed the girl standing about four feet way from him.

Hi.” she said, almost bashfully.

Uh … hi yourself. Uh … do I know you?”

She giggled. “Not yet. But you will.”

What does that mean?” He looked around in all directions as if trying to locate something. “And what on earth is that racket?”

“What racket?”

That incessant tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.”

She cocked her head to listen and a moment later, she grinned again. “Oh, that. I have learned to just close it out after all these weeks. It’s the sound of the keys on the keyboard.”

What keyboard?”

Melissa’s, silly. She’s the author.”

What’s an author?”

Oh, I forgot that you couldn’t know all that yet. It takes a while to figure things out once you get here, but I’ve been here so long that I’ve pretty well gotten acclimated to everything.”

Matthew tried clearing his head with a shake again. “Wait … what? … What are you talking about? What’s going on? Where am I anyway?”

The girl let out a huge sigh. “Okay. I’ll start from the beginning. Melissa Pendergast is an author, and she writes romance novels. She’s writing one now. I’m the heroine. My name’s Abigail, by the way,” she said, extending her hand to him.

He shook her hand but eyed her suspiciously. “And just what does that have to do with me?”

Why you’re going to be the hero of the story.” She paused, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. “And … the love of my life.”

You’re crazy! I don’t even know you.”

Abigail sighed again. “Of course you don’t — yet. You just got here. Melissa has just now decided who you will be. Well, just a couple of days ago anyway. I heard her talking to her best friend, so I know what the plan is now. She decided to call you Matthew because her very first boyfriend – in sixth grade – was named Matthew, and she did it in honor of him.”

Whoa — wait — start over, will you?”

Abigail began to get a little irritated. “I don’t need to start over. You just need to pay attention. Melissa is writing a love story and you are my lover. We are supposed to meet on the street right in front of that store over there on the corner. I’m supposed to get my heel caught in a grate at the edge of the curb, and you come to my rescue before a horde of people practically mow me down in their hurry to cross the street in the short time the light says ‘Walk.’

So I’m in a book?”

That’s right. And I understand it’s supposed to get a little steamy.” She smiled broadly now. “But I have to say that I’m not at all sorry. You’re quite a hunk, you know.”

Well … thanks … but … I’m not sure I want to be in somebody’s book – even this Melissa’s.”

Oh, don’t worry. She’s a great writer, and thousands of people love her books. We’ll be two of the most popular people in the world before too long. At least — I hope it’s before too long. She had a hard time sticking with this story. That’s why I’ve been around so long – waiting for you. She hit a block of some kind, but now everything seems like a go, and I can hardly wait.”

So, when I felt like the breath was being squeezed out of me, that’s when I was being birthed into this story, so to speak?”

That’s right. That’s exactly how it feels! But you’re okay now, aren’t you?”

Matthew looked himself over, took a nice deep breath, relieved that he could, and answered. “Yeah, I think I’m okay. But what do we do now?”

Just relax for a few minutes. I think Melissa just finished the second chapter, and she’s about to have us meet. This is so exciting. I think I’m falling in love with you already.”

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(As soon as I decided to write for this challenge, the first line popped into my mind, and I went from there. My understanding was that we were not supposed to edit these pieces to any extent, so I did type slower than usual to try to avoid as many mistakes as possible.)

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