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Boy of two worlds (March 30th 2018)
Posted: Posted May 11th, 2010 by Foolster41
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Boy of Two homes

Chapter 1 - Sports
“Come one, we’re going to go to Kai’s house”. Laila waved to me, and then I followed him up the sandy streets, through the yellow-white square sandstone houses of the city.

I ran with a little difficulty and caught up next to him. Laila was only a few months older than me at nearly nine, and about the same build. Still, I was surprised how fast he could go dragging a tail behind him. Laila was, like the other people in this country of Saltha a lizardfolk.

I’m still one of very few humans in this country .When my father announced we were moving, only a few months before, I was excited to go. I think my dad expected me to put up more of a fuss, but I grew up on stories of explorers and seeing new lands. This was a completely new kind of people.

We moved in with Laila has his parents. It had been just me and my dad since my mom died when i was just a baby. When we first met, just yesterday it felt like Laila’s mom was trying to fill that place that I’d been missing.

We made our way through the streets and people. The town was packed. Only these oasis towns supported life in the desert, which meant lots of people concentrated in relatively small spaces inside the walls. I yearned to just run down the streets and explore this new place, but Laila wanted me to meet his friends.

We passed by a large cow-sized reptilian creature called a Kes, pulling a cart with produce. It was late morning and already hot. Sweat lined the neck of my shirt. Even in short pants and a short-sleeved tunic I was boiling.

Laila, like the other kids that I saw his age wore nothing at all. They didn’t have to worry about sunburn with scales, and to them, it was perfectly normal.

I followed Laila to a courtyard of a large house. It was a square, about fifty or sixty paces across in each direction. There was a stone overhang canopy covering the first quarter of the length of the courtyard that extended from the gate to the side of the house. Stone pillars ran along the edge holding it up.

A group of four Salthan boys say in the shaded area, except for a taller one who was bouncing a ball made of animal hide off his feet.

Between the six of us, I was the only one wearing a stitch of clothing.

“isana! ” it’s him! One of the boys said. The ones who were sitting got to their feet and came over to me. The older one kept bouncing the ball,

“This is Zack, the hunan.” Laila said. Hunan because Salthans have trouble pronouncing the letter “M”.
“This is [Ka], [Lykea], [Kakela] and Kyrathe.” Laila said, pointing to each boy. They each greeted me in turn in the Salthan fashion, holding arms out with the palm upward. The boy with the ball, Kyrathe was the last one. He greeted me, but never stopped bouncing the ball as he did.

A flood of questions came from the three who had been seated, though they were aimed not at me, but at Laila for him to translate from their language. Laila would then translate it back, or answer and tell me what he said if he knew the answer.

The first question I got, from [Ka] was whether or not I was a Uagi. “What’s a Uagi?”
“Reached the age of ten.” Laila said.
“I’m eight.” and Laila translated back.
Tasa gave me a funny look. He looked me up and down, and raised a hairless ridge over his eye what we would call an “eyebrow” on a human.

Sometimes one of them would ask a question in my language, but it was always “ask Zack”, never directly to me.

“Ask hin what food he eats”
“Ask hin what animals there are where he’s from”
“Ask hin what the weather is like there”
“Ask hin what sports they play.”

And so on.

After a while he waved his arms and said something to the others in Salthan. He then turned to me “We’re going to play Tashnense”
“What’s Tash- that?”
“I’ll teach you”

Kythea went to the center of the wall in the shaded end of the courtyard and picked up a piece of chalk and drew a rectangle in the center of the wall.

“The objective is for the attacking team to hit that part of the wall with the ball” Laila said. “If they do, they get a point.” Laila pointed to the opposite wall on the shaded side “but if the ball hits the other wall, we tgrade sides, and the defending team becomes the attacking team.”

“No holding the ball. Just kick, or hit.” he said.

Kyrathe and [Ka] were elected captains. Kyetha went to the goal and rolled the ball, and one of the other boys kicked it back to Laila and stood parallel against the house to where the ball stopped\, a few paces shy of the wall. [Ka] then rolled the ball. It hit the back of the wall and bounced back. Kythea had rolled closer, and got first choice, and choose Laila.

Each of us were picked for a team, leaving me last to join Ka’s team.

The game began, with me on the attacking side. [Ka] had the ball, and the rest on his team ran parallel, kicking up sand.

I waved my arms and called “I’m open”, but they ignored me. None of the others on the other team even tried to really cover me.

[Ka] Kicked the ball to .[Lykea]who kicked the ball, hitting the goal with a loud TWAK, sending the ball bouncing back.

This happened with every play we did, it was like I wasn’t there to either team. A few times I got the ball, from what seemed like luck, but I either got the ball stolen from me by the other team, or I was getting crowded and passed it quickly to a teammate.

I don’t know which side won. I don’t think they were even keeping score.

After the game I walked home with Laila. “I don’t think they like me.” I said.
Laila looked at me, his mouth open with surprise. “What?”

Did he not see it?

“DIdn’t you see they didn’t pass the ball to me once, it was like I wasn’t there.”

Laila didn’t respond, but looked at the ground and we walked in silence.
“It’s not you, it’s that you’re dressed.” he said. “Those who are dressed who are not yet Uagi are busy, doing chores, not free to play.”
How could I ever fit in then?

Chapter 2 - Bath house

The next day Laila invited me to go to the public baths. Laila took with him a wicker basket, in it was two sponges and two copper coins.

The front entry room was small, with a desk on the far end and on either side doorways covered with curtains. Each was embroidered with a symbol. The one of the right had a horizontal line. The other had a diagonal slightly curved line that ran roughly from upper left to lower right.

A portly attended stood behind the desk.

Laila put the two coins on the table. He pointed to the right curtain. “Ee, fenale”. Laila pointed to the curtain on the left “ah, nale.” He then went through that curtain, and I followed.

The next room was about as big as the last. It had cubby holes around the sides of the walls, and low stone benches in the center.

There were Salthans here dressing or undressing.

“You can put your clothes here.” Laila told me.
I undressed, feeling a but shyt and put my clothes in one of the cubbies, then followed Laila through another curtain, embroidered like the first.

The room was much larger. Small raised basins of water dotted the room, each surrounded with a set of four stone benches.

We each found a seat around one of the basins, and he took a sponge and dipped it in the water, and began to wash himself with it. I did the same.

He then took a rock from the basket and began to rub himself with it.

“Laila” I looked up, Kythea, [Ka] and another boy who looked to be a few years younger were approaching us. I then happened to glance down and notice they wasn’t a boy at all, but a girl. “This is my sister, Naknei” [Ka] said.

I covered myself with my hands, and my face burned hot.

“Are you hurt?” Laila asked. I shook my head, mute from embarrassment, looking at the ground. I turned to the door. “I gotta go.”

“Hey” Naknei said. I turned to her, out of instinct.

“Dika esha” she gave the salthan greeting, arms outstretched, palms upwards.

“DIka Eshi” I replied with the female noun, but keeping my hands where they were.

She dropped her hands and frowned. She raised her right hand, and held it out with her hand sideways. “Nice to neet you.”

“Uh, nice to meet you too.” I said, again keeping my hands were they were.

She growled out some word that started with a click and walked away.

“I gotta go” I said in a single breath and dashed through the curtain into the dressing room.
Laila was soon through the curtain after me.

“Why were you so rude?” he asked.

“Huh?!” I said, a little louder than intended. Some of the others in the dressing room looked at us. My face burned hotter than I thought it could. He had put me in this awkward situation.

“Why didn’t you greet back, she even tried to greet you in your way.”

I shook my head, partially in disagreement, and part in confusion. Was he just not paying attention?

“I did greet back,” I said

“No, you only mouthed it.”

Mouthed it? I realized they were upset because I didn’t raise my hands in the Salthan greeting. Then she tried to shake my hand, but I didn’t do that either.

“You didn’t tell me there would be girls.”

Laila raised one of the ridges above his eyes that we would call eyebrows if it had hair. “So?”

I crossed my arms. “It’s just not something I’m used to.”

“But can’t you get used to it?”

Get used to it? I was shocked by this. Was he being serious?

“No, I can’t. It’s a human thing, you wouldn’t understand.”

He looked at me with a disgusted look on his face.

“But you can understand our ways, that’s way you came here. But we’re too dumb to understand yours?”

“No- I didn’t mean it like that-”

“I just wanted us on equal ground,” he said.

“I’m sorry I have to go.” I grabbed my clothes and threw them on, and ran home. I was sure Laila hated me now, and I had no friends at all.

3 - Fitting in
The evening at dinner Laila wouldn't look at me. The next day when he went out to play, I followed him. “Why are you following me?” he said.
Where else was I going to go? Stay home bored all day? The only people my age I knew was Laila and his friends.
What I had said yesterday was eating at me. I looked to the ground. “I’m sorry, for what I said, about how you couldn’t understand.”
Laila sighed. “I guess there’s stuff we both need to understand. Come on.”
We went to Kythea’s house and played Tashnense. This time Laila was one of the captains, but Kythea was the other.

It seemed they traded off captains for one team, but Kythea, being the oldest was always a captain.

Laila chose me first. Even though I was clothed he passed to me. Perhaps he thought this would be an example that would spread, or maybe that this way at least one person acted as thought I was there. None of the others still passed to me, but it was nice being at least a little more involved.

I didn’t tell my dad about the bath house, not because I was afraid he would be angry, but I was a bit embarrassed. I did tell him about how the kids ignored me, because i was clothed.
“Give it time.” he said. “It just takes getting used to you, as you’re getting used to them and this country.“

A few days later while we were playing I stopped. “Wait a minute, there’s something I have to do.”

I went to a corner of the courtyard and took a deep breath. Was I really going to do this? It was an enclosed courtyard, no one on the street could see us with the door covered, but someone in a window or roof of a nearby house could.

I pushed that aside and took off my shirt. I tried to act faster than my brain. I pulled down my pants and pushed them to the corner. I took another breath, standing in the corner, what was a few seconds but felt like many more. With another breath I turned around, forcing myself to keep my hands at my side.

I felt a bit of excitement, made of different shades, fear that I was disobeying my father, and maybe a bit enjoyment at that. Also, the excitement of freedom of being naked, unburned, and also the same as these other boys, and of doing something new.

When [??] passed the ball to me, I got so absorbed in the game, I forgot about the awkwardness.

We played for a while, I had my back turned to the doorway when I heard “Zack!”
I turned. There standing in the courtyard was my father. Next to him was another human about my father’s age, broad shouldered, and with a grey mustache like his hair.
“What are you doing?” there was an impossible tangle of hurt, confusion and anger in his voice. I couldn’t decide which was more dominant.

He marched towards me. I flinched as he grabbed my arm, and pulled me to the corner where the clothes lay. “Get dressed. Now.”

I put on my clothes, while the others silently watched me. My father grabbed me by the arm again, and pulled me to the door. We stopped at the other human “I’m sorry, [name. Bill?] have to take care of this.” and pulled me to the street.

“I’m very disappointed in you.” he said.

I sank down, his grip still on my arm, fearing what was to come when we got home.
“I’m not going to punish you” he said, sensing what I was thinking. “But we need to talk about you obeying me.”

He took me to the house and into the small bathroom in the back of the first floor. The room consisted of a small table with a basin on top. Hanging from a rack was the tools we had used at the bath house, and also a wooden about a foot long.

“That was someone I worked with, from home I was embarrassed that he saw you like that. Not to mention who knows who could have seen you from a window. Look at me. I told you, we are living here, and we try to fit in as we can, but also our ways are not like theirs. I expect you to behave as a Braydon and be modest when in public. Do you understand?.”
“Yes sir.” I said, though I didn’t fully understand how I was supposed to live here and fit in if by not following the customs it made it impossible to fit in.

“Net time, I won’t be just talking, do you understand?”
A glance to the switch made the meaning clear.
“Yes sir.”

4 -Escalation
I was still angry with my dad, as a sort of ineffective act of rebellion, I started undressing whenever I went to my to read or sleep in my room. A technicality since I wasn’t undressed outside, so I was obeying his wishes. Laila slept undressed, but I had up to this point kept my tunic on. It was a sort of freeing feeling of not having clothes I discovered

When my dad came to wake me he glared at me. “Zack…”
“I’m still in my room. No one can see me.”
He signed. “Fine, just as long as you don’t leave here that way., and keep the windows closed. Get dressed and come down to breakfast.”

When I went to play again I stayed clothed. A few days later when Laila and I went Kythea’s house, he was wearing a loincloth, and a shirt. It was two-colored, split with green on the left and red on the right. Kythea turned showing the back. On it was a picture of a Kes with it’s tongue sticking out to the side, looking like was going to fall over on its side. Above it was some text in Slathan I couldn’t understand. Kyethea’s face beamed with a broad grin of pride.

The others were congratulating him. “Gisal”, Much happiness! .

I turned to Laila. “What’s happened?”
“It was his tenth birthday yesterday, he’s a Uagi now.”

Kytthea showed us a mark on his arm. Scales were removed to form a picture. It was in the shape of a circle with three horizontal lines out of it’s left side.
“A moving Tashnense ball” Laila explained.

“Does it hurt?”
Laial gave me a look. “I would think so..”

Here was a chance. My tenth birthday was still almost another year, but if I could go through the ceremony I could honor my father’s wishes and fit in.

We played more, and though Kyteea was dressed, he was treated like any of the others. He was Uagi, so he was dressed all the time, free or not. I wanted to run home and ask my dad, but I also wanted to stay. Even if I was barely more than a spectator, I enjoyed the companionship.

When afternoon came we parted ways, I asked my dad right away.

My father shook his head. “You don’t know what you’re asking.”

“Sure I do, you get a picture cut in your arm.” I tried to sound calm when I said this, though my stomach fluttered at the thought.

He looked surprised as my answer. “And you still want to do it?” My father shook his head. “Give it time, they just need to get used to you.”

I’m maybe a little ashamed to admit I was somewhat relieved. I didn’t want to do it, and this was an excuse, and escape.

I played some more as days and weeks and months passed, still the same, and it didn’t seem like there was any inkling of progress of them letting me in. I got up the courage to mention the ceremony again a few times after that.

“I’m serious” I said one time. “I don’t want to be hurt. But if we are staying, I want to fit in.”

“I still don’t think it’s a good idea, son.” my father said. “Just give it time”
“It’s been almost two years now” Two years since we had moved here. My father said nothing. I found out later that every time I had asked, he had gone to Gilelsal, Laia’s father for advice, and he was advising him to let me go through with it.

Then one day we went to Kythea’s house to play, and found that Kythea was sick. So we went to [Ka]’s place to play.This was my chance to really join again. There’s no reason why my dad would know I was here. I turned to a corner and undressed. I turned, and and jumped when I saw a girl standing there, it was Naknei. I felt my face flush hot.

She saw me, but then turned away, pretending I wasn’t there. I turned to redress, but then stopped. This was my once chance to fit in again. Besides I argued, she’d already seen everything. It was hard getting used to undressing the first time, but I pushed myself, and I would just push myself again.

I turned to her. “Dika ehsi, Naknei”, and I gave the greeting gesture She looked up, started, but gave the gesture back. “Dika esha, Zack”.

We played for a few hours. I had just scored a goal and turned away, towards the door when I saw the curtain flare and my father step in. “Zack!”. I felt myself jump, and it felt like my heart fell in my chest. I covered myself with my hands. He stomped over to me, I could feel his steps. “Get dressed, now.”

I turned away but then stopped, put my hands at my side and turned around.

“No” I said. “I belong-”

My father bent close, and grabbed me by my shoulders. He spoke loudly enough for Neknei and the others to hear. “You’re acting tough to impress your friends, but when we get home, you’re getting swatted. Now get dressed.”

My father dragged me home, this time he didn’t say anything. He pulled me back into the bathroom. “I warned you, and you deliberately disobeyed me behind my back, and in front of a girl. Undress.”

I hesitated, more from fear than embarrassment. I’d been switched before, but never on the uncovered bottom.

“Are you not embarrassed to be naked in front of them, but are in front of me? Now.”

I pulled inside to my anger, thinking of my impossible situation I was put in, hoping to use it to hide my fear. I pulled my tunic over my head and threw it down.

“That’s fine, be angry. You are still my son, so I expect you to obey me.I’m punishing you this way will help you remember to obey.” He pulled me over his lap and gave me ten hard swats with the switch. I was crying long before it was over.

Then he let me get up and I rubbed my burning bottom.

“If you are too tempted, then you should stay home.” my father said.

5 - Uagi
The day of Laia’s birthday finally came. The upstairs curtains were cleared back to make a single larger room. All of the bed mats and curtains were were put to one side.

“Son, can I speak with you alone?” I followed him downstairs.

“I’ve been thinking about what you’ve said, and I watched you a little these last few weeks playing the game. If you really want to go through with it, I thought it best if you did it with Laila, and have it more a surprise so you’re not counting down the days. Are you sure? It’s up to you, but as far as Laila or anyone knows, if you say no, it’s me saying no.”

I took a deep breath, and nodded my head. “Yes” I managed to say.

“Alright” my father said.

“Do you know what you want, as a picture?”

I nodded He gave me some paper and a charcoal and I drew as best I could the shape of what I wanted. I was pretty proud of the result.

My father smiled, ran his hand through my hair and and turned to upstairs.I followed him.

Laila’s father nodded. “It’s time to begin” he said.

Laila’s father pointed to the floor, and we sat down, with Laila sitting on my right.

In front of us was a scroll, some cloth rags, a paper fan, and three bowls. The bowls had in them mud, water and the third had some sort of blackish-yellow translucent gel,

Gielsala, Laila’s father sat down in front of us. He dipped all his fingers into the bowl of mud, and then ran his four fingers on Laila’s forehead, painting a line downward to just above his eyes.

“Kakeels Gikakela Dasanai, great Gikakela protect them” he said, and did the same to me.

He then wiped his hand on the cloth, and took the scroll. He touched the scroll to the top of Laila’s head, and then mine.

“Shu Kai Dansalileksai, Great Ksai light their way”

FInally he picked up the fan and opened it and fanned Laila and then me vigorously. “Olan Lykei Dasanai, Great Lykei, watch over them.”

Gielsal took something from a pocket that glittered in the light, a small blade. He held Lail’s arm just above the elbow. that was nearest to me “Try to relax, and hold still,” he said.

Laila’s arm moved to his hand to mine and held it tight. I saw on his face a smile, but fear in his eyes.

He then began to make incisions.Laila winced a little, and made a pained noise.

I wanted to look away, but I found somehow I couldn’t.

Gisal cut away the scales and they fell to the floor. He made a small line that angled up and to the right. Then another disconnected line down to the right with a tip that looked like an arrow.

Above it he “drew” two lines that intersect and became one line, and a circle on the top. Below that he drew lines going out sideways. Laila’s father took some of the gel with his finger and rubbed it on the area of Laila’s arm.

“Done,” Gielsal said, and he let go of his son’s arm. I realized what the image was, a human, standing above a broken spear. The gel had dyed the places where the scales were missing, making it stand out more as a pattern. I was told it was also a salve to help in healing and prevent infection.

Laila looked at the mark, and smiled, and I could see a bit of a grimace from pain. “It means, ‘Peace with humans’” he said.

“Now it is your turn” Gielsal said. I happened to glance to my father, who smiled and nodded at me, as if to say, “you can do this”

“You have no scales, so I will mark with cut lines” he said.

I held out my arm and he took it. I looked away, and shut my eyes. I jumped a little when I felt the poke of the blade on my arm. I gritted my teeth hard.

I could feel the blood dripping from my arm to the floor. Gielsal took a rag and periodically wiped my arm. With it.

The repetition of cutting and wiping went on for, I lost track of how many times. FInally Laila’s father said “Done”..

I looked at my arm. The shape was a compass, with eight diamond-like lines going off in different direction with a circle going through all but the tip of each line.

“We did it” Laila said with a smile.

“We did it” I agreed.

E: New updated version, as of March 29th, 2018

There are 44 Replies
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What's a mermior (in the thread title)?
Do you mean memoir (which is in your Opening Post)?

Posted May 13th, 2010 by chiarizio
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Yes. Fixed.

Posted May 14th, 2010 by Foolster41
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New chapter added

Posted September 13th, 2010 by Foolster41
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New Chapter 3. (I really need to more of this. Suggestions are welcome for sorts of things the character might do in Saltha that might spark interesting conflict.)

Posted May 30th, 2011 by Foolster41
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No can argue that my childhood was an unusual one.

Could you have meant "No one can argue that my childhood was not an unusual one."?

I'm pretty sure you meant "No one" or "No-one" or "None" rather than just "no".

If someone argues that your childhood was unusual, they say, "Your childhood was unusual!". Clearly your first-person narrator's childhood was unusual; practically anybody can argue that it was.

If someone argues that your childhood was not unusual, they say "Your childhood was not unusual!". Clearly your first-person narrator's childhood was unusual. Anyone who argued that it wasn't, doesn't know what they're talking about.


BTW I am glad you are creating and writing, and I appreciate your posting to us, and I enjoy reading it.

Posted June 1st, 2011 by chiarizio
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Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, your correction "no one" and "not" makes more sense. The first was a typo, I had meant "not", and the second I think i was thinking something like "argue against" but as you point out, it really sounds like the opposite of what I meant to say.

Glad you're reading it and enjoying it! (It's been pretty dead around here in general lately. :( )

Posted June 23rd, 2011 by Foolster41
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Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, your correction "no one" and "not" makes more sense. The first was a typo, I had meant "not", and the second I think i was thinking something like "argue against" but as you point out, it really sounds like the opposite of what I meant to say.

I'm glad it helped! Thanks for letting me know.

Glad you're reading it and enjoying it! (It's been pretty dead around here in general lately. :( )

I don't know about others, but I've been busy actually conlanging and conscripting and conworlding and conculturing and suchlike stuff (with a little bit of "real life" thrown in to help keep things confusing).

First I need to get stuff I want to post, then I need to figure out how to post it.

Today is the first day in the last half-week or so I've actually checked in! Sorry. :oops: :(

Posted June 23rd, 2011 by chiarizio
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The bit about the return customer tradition is a bit confusing.

Is it a bracelet, or a necklace, or does it change from bracelet to necklace, or can it be any jewelry?

It seems like it might be verging on impossible in practice, though, unless the merchants have very good memories, or the towns are pretty small; and even then, it might be problematic as a target for thieves, no?

Posted June 24th, 2011 by Blake
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Blake: Darn, I see I used "bracelet" and "necklace" interchangeably. It should be bracelet.

You may have a point there about it being impracticable. I was trying to come up with something loosely based on the "kula ring" system of the Trobriand Islanders. I'm thinking I may need to rethink this (and of course, change the chapter accordingly).

Posted June 24th, 2011 by Foolster41
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It's just a nit, but, want to check on your capitalization?

In particular sometimes you write Saltha and sometimes saltha.

I suspect you always mean Saltha.

I imagine there are other proper nouns you'd like to capitalize.

I'm not sure which non-RL-English nouns are proper and which are common.

Perhaps you don't feel like capitalizing adjectives derived from proper nouns; that's an Anglophone thing.
Some languages (e.g. German) do all the capitalizing English does and more, but some (e.g. French) do not, in particular they don't capitalize adjectives (Francais the language is capitalized AIUI, but francais the adjective is not).

Posted June 27th, 2011 by chiarizio
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