(The following is an excerpt from a longer work: Gretial Taan.)
Ffyth has been chosen as the new dragon coach, but she is a mere fledgling, too young to have her own cubby. In this chapter, she tries to pretend to be the hyphendor and decipher the message the previous hyphendor has left her.
Little whispers fluttered like a swarm of butterflies throughout Mithrinva at the news that Kaleb Tad had not only ripened early, but he had departed, abandoning their new hyphendor apprentice.
“Run away, he has!” they whispered. “She’s brand new and is not guided,” they murmured, astonished and perplexed.
They clucked sympathetically and gave Ffyth hugs as she walked the halls and the paddock.
“She’s a little squirt with a big fire!”
“She’s ninnying around, grazing in patches!”
“Aye, indeedy. Spinning that waterwheel out of the water she is.”
“She’s looking for a storm on a clear day and there isn’t any wind!”
“Ah, but there’s a breeze there is. A bit of a breeze. Can’t you see: maybe she does see that storm and we’re closing our looking?”
Sometimes they whispered within earshot of Ffyth Mam, teasing with tenderness, love beneath it. Then they’d give her a hug. Or ask her to tea. And they’d check in to make sure there wasn’t anything they could do to help.
“Are you sure?” they’d ask when she replied that she would surely look to them when needed.
“Sure-sure,” she’d smile reassuringly. But she was not sure-sure about anything and they all knew it. The new-new was as uncomfortable for her as it was for them.
Without even knowing she was supposed to have a beacon, Ffyth had no guidance for her new role as dragon coach in Mithrinva, the most prestigious and honourable of all distinctions possible. If Kaleb had stayed, he would have told her the beacon of love and care provided the last key to being hyphendor, the deep connection to the dragon. But she knew nothing of it but an ache, a longing, a phantom loss. It was as if Ffyth was a stream without water who didn’t remember the water, knew only the groove, the ragged line of boulders, a bare eroded line meandering down a hill without obvious cause. Missing. It made her especially restless and uncertain. Whisperings that the hyphendor had new new traits, maybe also terrible terrible. And they spread, like a small fire spark in a forest, until the nursery was becoming restless and uncertain. And everyone was calming everyone with smiles and hand holding and there theres.
Ffyth learned to skip to the Nyth every morning and pretend to be the hyphendor. She skipped home and lay in bed at night having done nothing much all day. She visited with who came almost every day for tea, and she dusted (once), entertained friends (often) and the council of elders (as little as possible), sat quietly by herself (a lot). Once she accompanied the elders to the waterfall for a chanting celebration, but it felt all wrong – she wasn’t an elder.
She tried to remember what Kaleb would do all day, but when she was with him, he would teach her, and when she wasn’t with him, she had no idea what he was doing.
She struggled to remember his many lessons. At the time, she didn’t pay attention because she imagined that when she was the official hyphendor, she would have to go through it all again. Now it was clear that she had been apprentice since the day she told him the Graig had chosen her. But she had not lied: she had been out on the Graig and she had jumped on the rock doing back flips and spirals. Her movements had slipped into slow motion, every jump as if in the future, coming towards her, visible and balanced. And the Graig – well it just felt as though they belonged together, the two of them. The Graig was laughing too. Is that possible? Can a rock feel? Ah, if a waterfall would laugh and play, why not a rock? Just because it moved more slowly it didn’t have a beingness? Yes, she was sure the Graig was delighted to have her there.
So many lessons and all a buzzy mess in her brain.
One day, so the Kontom would truly believe she was a hyphendor, Ffyth went about organizing the preparations for a new egg. Not one of them would see a dragon egg in the nest, but they all agreed: prepare for its coming they must! She asked Dunio to start rehearsing the dragon lullabies with the clans. She researched egg warming techniques and strategies for egg care and began training small groups, an effort met with polite interest. She asked for fresh egg warmers, but when they asked her the colours and patterns for the next dragon, she didn’t know how to answer. She dropped the charade and called off all the preparations for the next egg. Clearly, it was too soon. There was something she was supposed to be doing first.
At first, she began every day by reading Kaleb’s letter. It was short enough that she had it memorized in a few, but she kept hoping a secret message would be revealed if she stared at it hard enough. She recited it aloud to Ggrling one day as they were sitting at the edge of the stream with their feet dangling in the water hoping she would decipher the code.
Our stories, our histories, they fall one into another, nestled and yet independent. They have beginnings which shed light on a facet of the whole, yet each facet, each ray, can distort the way another facet lies, the way another ray will stamp its cast. Each story changes the other, so they are not entirely independent, never, even if they may seem to be. After one story is told, it cannot be taken back, and so it affects the next story and makes it impossible to come to another facet with purity, one that allows it to shed and reveal in its own right, untainted by other stories.
Do you see? I must leave you with silence.
“I see not at all! Only that he talk-talks much for a silence keeper.”
“I see that I don’t see,” Ffyth continued, “I see that I see without seeing the seeing. And that in seeing the not -seeing, Kaleb thinks I will see.”
They laughed again, holding their stomachs the laughing was hurting so much.
“Maybe listening to the blind seer turns you to a stone listener?” Ggrling offered, giggling.
“All new-new, so he says. I’m doing new things. He did new. Nothing written in the books to help with the new-new. Just wait, he says. Wait for something, not a what or a when. Not a this or a that. Just a wait.”
“Maybe you’ll know when it comes landing on your head? Ggrling laughed. “Maybe when it picks you up, it says ‘I’m the new-new. Look at me’. Then you’ll know!”
“Ah, and then I’ll see! I’m the story no one tells: ‘she waited for nothing to not happen. The end’.”
They were gasping for air and holding their kidneys laughing.
“Be awake ignorant, Kaleb says. Yes? Be awake to your not knowing. Ha. You can do that, Ffyth. Be ignorant.”