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I got bored in church. I know, I know. You’re not suppose to do that, but it happens. I’ve always found Jesus to be a pretty down to earth guy so I’m sure he’s down with my distraction. Though I’ll just say that it was during a guest speaker so maybe you’ll give me some lee-way too. This is the little story I wrote instead. It ends a little abruptly, but that’s because the offering envelope I wrote it on was only so big. Someday I’m going to take this and turn it into something amazing, but that has to wait until I finish my latest love – “Keeper of Bone” It’s about mermaids. Yeah, really. Someday I’ll find enough envelopes and then I’ll finish this one too. Until then, enjoy this blurb.

 

Ishmael of the Mountains

Ishmael was a recluse. Both by choice and by the general consensus that no village wanted him around. It would have been the case for any giant, which he was, but went double for two-headed beings, which he couldn’t help being despite his best intent and wishes.

It happened on occasion among humans and animals that two heads, being two separate entities, shared one body though those such rarely lived long. It was not so with Ishmael. He was two heads with one spirit split between them both. The spirit of men is not well suited to such division and it brought with it a sharp lethargy. One head awake at a time is considered by all to be enough to deal with anyway, so it was that one head was awake during the day and the other during the night. It took a great ruckus, both urgent and cataclysmic, to wake both at once, and better you didn’t. For Ishmael to have that much concentration on anything resulted in a spewing of temper, magic and prophecy. Usually in that order.

It was too bad, really, because he was both handsome and intelligent. A waste on the wilderness. At an arm span above the tallest of normal men he had every come across, and broad of shoulder Ishmael was as strong as most bears. At least, as strong as most bears he happened to know, which was admittedly few. His olive skin was framed of face by black, ringlets of short hair on one head and left to grow in waves on the other. Both faces were shave cheeked and possessed large, almond shaped, hazel eyes. Squirrels would tell you those eyes were golden in the dawn and green at noon and when angry they turned a sparkling amber like diamonds among embers. High cheek bones and a square jaw centered by a chiseled nose that was not too narrow and not too broad, neither hooked nor upturned, that finished off a face completely lost on forest creatures. Ishmael himself was completely unaware of his charms; something of a feat in a man who can look himself in the face without a mirror though in fairness he could not be blamed since most of those who came across him in the mountains would scream and run away.

He was the son of a stone cutter, a skill he learned young and honed in the wild depths of the mountains. Mostly it was for his own comfort as caverns rarely come furnished with the sorts of things a bi-pedal inhabitant would desire. He had caverns he called home depending on the season and his mood, which changed as frequently as every 12 hours as steady as the turning of the earth. His caves were hewn out of the granite depths and were varied in make and size. One was two rooms, twice his own height and over-laid with marble, one was a single round cavern, rough walled, but great waves washed the smooth floor like an ocean and the ceiling carried a map of the winter sky upon itself in minute detail. One he fashioned into a maze, smooth and unadorned all twisting passage and dead ends. A handful were more bears dens than rooms, which really for year at a time they were unless Ishmael bothered to chase them out, which he never did because who’s to say the bear didn’t need it more than he did?

Those who glimpsed him in the hill country called the curly headed face Day Waker and the long haired face, Eye of Night. Like their span of waking his characteristics fit well into their respective times of the watch. During the day Ishmael was patient, calm and smiled readily, if small and quietly, and was generous. At night his eyes were always shifting, watching the shadows and he was terse, temperamental and suspicious. Always though, whichever head he watched from, he was never hasty in action, always reclusive, and always wise. Speaking no word congenial or wicked that was not needed, doing no deed that was not truly required, though for what purpose one could never really know until later, for Ishmael frequently did many strange things.

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One Comment

  1. This is super. Talk about a productive church service! Also, I like your title for the mermaid story.


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