Saturday, August 14, 2010

From TO BECOME WHOLE - unpublished

The next day, in an effort to make up for his uncharacteristic loss of control, Canis took it upon himself to help Nike make a place for their guest. While they worked, Nike thought on their guest. When it came to asking for someone’s name, Nike was not so shy as Canis had been. Everyone in the clan knew each other’s name, but when meeting someone new, it was only logical to exchange names as soon as possible. Their guest had not bothered to do this while at Canis’s house for two full days. Nike had had enough of this rude stubbornness and finally asked.

“It’s Halley of course,” she said, as if everyone should know her name just by being in her presence.

Nike overlooked the manner, and at first, it appeared that Canis did too because he merely strode to the wood slot out back and brought in a pair of already shaped pieces of wood and started to soak them in preparation for bending.

Halley was obnoxious, but not stupid; she recognized what those pieces of wood were for. “What are you making snowshoes for?”

Canis looked her directly in the eyes. “I am making them for you. Yours were broken when you fell. I have a feeling that as soon as your leg is healed, you will need new ones. I am sorry that I cannot direct you to the next clan holding.”

The woman was speechless. When she did find her voice, she said with disbelieving incredulity, “You can’t kick me out.”

Canis smiled, but it was a smile that narrowed his eyes dangerously. “Yes I can,” he said with a soft growl under his words. Then with a sigh, he sat down on the bearskin near her.

Involuntarily, she shrank away from him. She had to force herself to remember that he was not a full-grown man, not yet, but she remembered him saying something about beating women not too long ago.

Canis sat looking at his hands for several minutes before he spoke. “I was not taught how to mix with people and have always chosen to watch the people around me very carefully and reserve reaction for those who came close to me. I have learned, with this watching, that a soft voice and a carefully considered word will win much more respect than an angry voice that can find nothing but criticism to air. While you stay here, I will not wish you on any other member of this clan. I will make every effort to show you how you appear to others. You were rude not to introduce yourself when I told you my name. You should remember that you are not in control of your surroundings. This house was my mother’s house and since I am the last remaining member of my family, it has become mine. When I leave here, I will give it to Nike for all the help she has seen fit to give me. You are at my mercy here, and like I told you before, I was not brought up in the clan.” Canis sat there for a few minutes longer, but when Halley didn’t seem inclined to any response, he rose and donned his coat. Picking up his snowshoes and ax, he headed outside.

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