Deserted chameleons, we were

Abstract desert , tydelig ( DeviantArt ) ‘Come on,’ his familiarly clear voice echoed through the silence. ‘Show me what you’ve got.’ ...


Abstract desert, tydelig (DeviantArt)

‘Come on,’ his familiarly clear voice echoed through the silence. ‘Show me what you’ve got.’
      The beautifully polished metal in his hand gleamed in the burning sunlight — his silhouette illuminated by the last daylight, as glowing cole in a smoldering nightfire. Boiling air wrincled above the dry desert scenery as if it was water, touched by nature’s hand. I could almost taste the hallucinatory satisfaction of the saturated fata morgana it represented. The desert life was tough. Every footstep caused a small swirl of sand twirling up in the sky. Our movements raked together the dusty void between us until a soft cloud made of silence floated in the space between us. The haze of the desert.
      ‘Then why don’t you make a move?’ I said softly. There was violence nor hatred between the two of us, merely present was the optimistic tension prior to a good, honorable fight. The shrieking sound of a lonely vulture circling in heaven above accompanied our ritual. Just like the scavenger the ritual was old as time itself, invisible for a simpleton’s eye.
      He waited no more. With a dazzling yet effective speed his sword cut horizontally through the air, then came within an ace of injuring me badly in the face, hadn’t I stepped back reflexively. I immediately rolled over to the side, through the dusty sand, preventing him in the nick of time from successfully attacking again. The moment I saw his glaring blade landing hardly an inch next to where I lay down, my heart stopped for a moment.
      ‘Come on, sister of mine!’ He laughed, like he always did. ‘Time for hide ‘n seek is over.’
      ‘You think so?’ I replied grinning. I knew my strengths just as well as I knew my weaknesses. I might not be the greatest sword master of our family, I was fast. Faster than any of my brothers, faster than anyone in the village. Running was my thing.
      Therefore running was what I did.
      ‘Hey, come back here!’ I heard my brother’s surprised voice far behind me. The intense feeling of energy rushing through my veins was the best feeling I’d ever felt. I loved every second of the armed rituals like these. It always helped me to regain the feeling of being alive, when time starts to melt and days start to forget to swift into nights. My legs went faster than ever and my heart almost beated out of my chest. Adrenaline took over.
      Suddenly my ears picked up the soft sound of a tribal horn, far away. And so the running was over as quickly as it had begun. I turned around, saw his posture.
      ‘Suo!’
      He knew me well, I noted gladly, because as soon as he saw my face he shoved his sword back into the shabbard and his joyous expression faded away. ‘Tho, is anything wrong?’

Deserted chameleons we were, silently dying, insenseless, 
speaking of no danger, speaking with no words.”

      ‘Listen,’ I whispered. For a moment we heard nothing but absence of sound. Then the horn sounded again, long and steady as a warning. As soon as my brother recognised the sound of the tribal instrument his face clouded over.
      ‘We have to go look!’ he said fiercely and he hadn’t even finished speaking or he turned around to start running towards the main road that led to the village. However, before he ran away I grabbed him by his forearm and shouted: ‘Wait!’
      He stopped and stared at me. He wasn’t questioning my doubts. I was precious to him, just the way he was everything to me.
      ‘Something’s not right,’ I tried to explain. My words didn’t reflect the sudden emotion of anxiety that took over my mind, but I had to try to clarify what I ment. ‘There might be something — or someone — dangerous out there and if I am not mistaken, it’s definitely up to no good. We’ve got be careful, Suo.’
      ‘Always, little sister,’ he said with a hint of that soft smile of his. A memory popped up in my head, then slowly faded into empiness.
      Then we started running, careful not to make any noise, careful not to wake anything — anyone. My brother and I, we blended into the landscape. Deserted chameleons we were, silently dying, insenseless, speaking of no danger, speaking with no words.

As we came closer to the place we had lived our entire life, the faint noises of stabbing, crying and moaning slowly drifted towards us, like the penetrating smell of something rotten. The feeling of reality combined with intense fear made me shiver over my entire body. My feet got stuck somewhere in the sand and I was out of balance. I started to weep when I fell in the dust, my entire body, my eyes, nose, mouth full of sand. I was drowning, the sand was everywhere and Suo had to hold me firmly to prevent me from screaming and crying and hitting myself.
      ‘Easy, Tho, easy as always, right, little girl? Remember the old days?’ he muttered close to my left ear, which made me feel like I was deaf on one side. A strange vision of war, shooting, chaos and transparent blood mixed with quicksand, fire in the sky and screaming in only my left ear, filled my brain with blind panic. Screaming about the lives of their offspring, their children, strangled my throat.
      ‘Remember the games we used to play in the old days, Tho, the walks and the duels, remember the fun we had?’ He kept whispering and tenderly wiped the hair out of my face. ‘Why, you’re my little one, my precious, Tho... You are and you’ll always be, right? Easy on yourself now,’ he shushed me. His mantra calmed me down, as always, and after some time Suo started to loosen his grip on my back.
      ‘You okay?’ he asked. His eyes calm as usual, although the omnipresent, characteristic twinkle in his eye fought with a spark of anxiety unknown to me. I decided to let it go and asked him about it later.
      ‘I’m okay,’ I said, rubbing my face to wipe away all the sand, rubbing my mind to erase the vision.
      ‘We have to go to the shack,’ he said after I was calmed down. Suo, with his bright eyes, strong and wise, looked at me. ‘We have to leave, Tho, you understand? I have to go find mom and dad and Keena.’ His voice did not sound frightened at all. He did what he always did and that was taking care of us, all of us, because that’s what you do for family. I admired him. ‘You go to the shack now, and you start collecting plenty of preservable food, dried meat, nuts, whatever you can find. And you start to fill all of the bottles inside the backpack we left there some time ago, you remember? And then you wait for me. You wait until midnight and if we haven’t arrived by that time, you leave the shack alone.’
      ‘But Suo—’
      ‘You’ll be fine, little sister,’ he smiled. He did not lie. I believed him, because I always did. He never lied.
      ‘Okay,’ I said and then I hugged him, holding him as close to me as possible to make sure he wouldn’t let go of me. He never did. His strong hands warmed me up and made me feel okay.
Then he let go, and I waved.
      ‘I’ll be back in no time, little sister.’
      I stared at him, looked at the gleaming silver in his hand, until he was out of sight and I was alone again.



een enigszins triestig kortverhaal geschreven door mijzelf - maar wel een primeur: voor het eerst in het Engels!

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