Sunday, June 16, 2013

Prompt: Lying to Seek the Truth

Thanks to Azany for permission to use her beautiful artwork, "Giver of Truth"!

Gerald sat across the fire from the strange man and knew he lied. He wanted more than anything to be somewhere else. Anywhere else. He wanted to lead this man somewhere else. Anywhere else. He wanted to not know the truth.

Robert Benson from Houston, Texas, flew into Addis Ababa and made his way to Jima. He was full of bluster and American dollars as he searched for a guide into the Kafa Preserve to find the goldrynn, the Giver of Truth. Gerald was the only tracker who would lead outsiders into Kafa on this quest. The others considered it a fool’s errand, and an insult to boot. An insult to the goldrynn, an insult to them, and an insult to Africa. But they hadn’t seen the goldrynn. They hadn’t seen the truth.

Gerald’s father was a tracker, and his father before him. They strapped their babies to their chests rather than leave them with the women, and Gerald learned to track before he could walk or talk. He saw the goldrynn with his grandfather the year he died, and with his father the year he divorced Gerald’s mother and moved to England. Other trackers might find signs of the goldrynn, neat scat or long tufts of fur, mostly gold and sometimes blue. Only Gerald saw the goldrynn like visiting an old friend.

So Robert found Gerald and told him he wanted to seek the truth, to find the goldrynn. And Gerald knew he lied. But he took Robert’s money and led him up into the mountains.

On the fourth day of their expedition, Gerald knew they would find the goldrynn. They hiked to a clearing with a view of the cloud forest spread below them, and Gerald pointed out their route. A family of black-and-white colobus monkeys raced and chattered in the trees around the clearing. Gerald hobbled the pack horse and spread out a lunch for them to rest and eat.

He didn’t look up when he felt the goldrynn’s presence. He knew when Robert saw it. The man’s eyes widened and he rose to his knees as if he were praying. Gerald looked over his shoulder and saw the goldrynn stepping into the clearing. Despite his heavy heart, he smiled. She was exquisite—a golden-furred leopard with a long-flowing mane, tail, and tufts above her heavy paws. A delicate pattern was traced in blue swirls and arcs across her face and chest, leading down her back and legs. The blue mixed in her long hair as well. No one knew where her golden necklace set with a blazing sapphire came from. Gerald’s grandfather told him she had always worn it. Was she immortal? Did she pass on her gifts to a cub to follow in her footsteps? That truth remained hidden.

It was time for the truth. Robert leaned back to his pack and pulled out a rifle. Gerald jumped up and ran toward the goldrynn. She stared at him with wide, placid eyes, and did not run away. A shot, a crack in the air. The colobus screamed and fled. Gerald felt the sharp blow to his back knock him to the ground. The goldrynn flared her ruff and mane in a cloud around her head. She roared her challenge and leaped over Gerald toward Robert. Another crack split the air. Robert shouted once. Twice. Silence.

Gerald felt the scrape of a rough tongue on his hand, his back, his cheek. He heard the deep rumble of the goldrynn’s purr, smelled her warm breath on his face. Through half-lidded eyes, he saw her brilliant blue eyes. He rolled over and closed his eyes. Perhaps the colobus would return. He would like to hear them again. He felt the weight of the goldrynn’s head on his shoulder. Felt the cold metal of her necklace against his throat. He slept.

He woke at sunset, blinking at the darkening sky. Standing, he shook his mane and settled the necklace against his chest. He looked around for the goldrynn, but she was gone. Lifting his forepaw to lick it clean, he looked over at Robert’s still body and sniffed. He thought about marking it, but he didn’t want meat so tainted by lies. He snarled softly and padded across the clearing into the forest.

Yo-Yo Ma, Anthony McGill, Gabriela Montero & Itzhak Perlman, Air & Simple Gifts

Time writing:
~80 minutes! (with research interruptions)

June word count:

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