Have you ever wondered why the men, why fathers especially, sleep with their heads in a very specific spot in the house? The spot is even marked for them by a stone, embedded in the floor. I found out the reason that first morning, the morning of the day I became a hunter.
When the sun rises, its light fills the sky and drifts through the trees. It also drifts through the smokehole, and your father sleeps there, right where the light is brightest. It is the most reliable way to be awakened in the morning.
Hunters waken to the light, and everyone else awakes, as you know, to the elder. In my day it was Sap, but now it isn’t, is it… it’s grandmother. So, for the first time, I was awakened before the rest of the village by my father, because now I too was a hunter.
I was awakened at the beginning of the dawn by my father’s hand on my head. My eyes opened and I looked around. He said with his eyes that I should remain quiet. I followed him out of our home and towards the community pit. I watched my father’s face as we went. He kept it flat; emotionless. We were the second group there. The man I knew to be Sandgrain, and his son, were there waiting. I didn’t pay much attention to them, and neither did they to me.
As people gathered though, I began to get looks from the boys and the men. There were three kinds of looks; angry questioning, interest, and, of course, not looking at all. Sandgrain and his son fell into the third category. I counted and saw that everyone who should be there had arrived; our village had twenty-three hunters, not including me. Why weren’t we leaving yet?
Someone, I think it was Silver, but I cannot recall, they said, “Where is that man!”
I tried to think of who might be missing. There were two possibilities, but only one face came to mind, and so too did that same face arrive at the circle of men.
“Of course yesterday was not so good. With that in mind, today we will be using the reliable methods,” announced Sap, to many groans. He had arrived late, and it seemed that he was the one who kept stock of the hunters. Sap was the primary intermediary between the hunters and the village.
Sap looked at me and added, “Also, we have a new hunter. Today will be an easy day for everyone, so I don’t expect that her apprenticeship will be too taxing. Ha!” he shouted, “Keep your vision on the animals and not on the young woman! Talc, feel free to tell me or your father if anyone is getting on your nerves, right? No need to walk in Shell’s footsteps and go beating on the poor young men.
The elder let out another laugh.
“Okay!” He concluded, “Well all have work to do. The lesser spirits put idle hands to evil work, so let us be off.”
With that we dispersed. Everyone went to the storage building and took out a lot more gear than I was used to seeing hunters wear. Then my father and half of the men went northwest, and the other half went northeast. While I followed my father, he explained that this was not the usual way of hunting. The ‘reliable methods’ meant trapping. Today, he explained, they would be setting traps until the afternoon, and then checking them in the late evening.
“Reliable, sure,” he explained, “but very boring, and it results only in robbits and other small catches.”
As he spoke, I looked around to see who the others were. I recognised two of them for sure. They were brothers who lived nearby us, you know Silver and Quick? Well, this is how I met them. Those two, along with the others, sat on some of the forest rocks and began constructing things with the wood, straps, and string using hands and stone knives.
“Watch here,” my father motioned.
I watched as he constructed what he told me was a snare trap. Then he handed it to me, and gave me the same materials. He let me struggle while he proceeded to work on more.
“We will need a lot, they do not always catch something. No, wind it like this.”
After a short period, Quick stood up. He already had a fistful of loops, and also held a bundle of thick sticks. He had made small notches in most of them, and had sharpened them on one end. Not long after, Silver and a few others finished as well. He and Quick said they would go ahead and look for good boulders. I asked my father what this meant, but he just said, “later.”
After the second one, and a lot of help, I got a good handle on tying snares. By the the time I had finished my fourth, thought, he had made twelve. Then, he stood. This seemed to indicated readiness, but I didn’t feel ready. I looked up at him. He motioned with his head, and we moved.
We were the second last pair to start down the footpath.
Everything beyond this is still under construction.
This is… only the first half of chapter 2. I apologize, but it is exam season, and I thus have “short-term” priorities. The schedule still lives though! I know it’s been a month, and it kind of sucks, but so it goes.
Copyright © 2018 by Daniel Triumph