As has become my habit now, hereʼs another installment from Stars in Heaven.
I want to include a long section, following what appeared last Sunday and preceding this little chunk, about the trek from the boyʼs home (actually I guess it would be the home to most of the characters — the boy, Daniel, Ghorf, Jism [and Aunt Sarai, but sheʼs not on the journey, so only a recollection in the boyʼs thoughts]) to the city, which amusingly I just realized I have never named. I fell in love with If-naryadh’iq square, but I never named the city.
The square, by the way, owes itself to several places (the main one in Marrakesh, of which many details about the fictional square parallel) that Janet and I visited on our 1984 trip to Morocco (ironically/coincidentally, during Ramadan, as we now are also). Anyway.
I want to write (but havenʼt yet written) about the long journey — first the uncles and the two boys hiking for a while, then the caravanserai where they attach themselves to one of the regular caravans to the city. The first portion, the walk, is mostly tedium, but I have several incidents in mind for the caravanserai. The actual caravan journey is still pretty vague to me (which along with the uninteresting aspect of the foot journey may explain why I havenʼt gotten around to writing any of this). Regardless, I wanted to indicate that, although I wrote the next section (and the next and the next after that) as one big hunk of evolving narrative, my plan is that this comes quite a distance after what you (may) have read so far.
The whole travel narrative remains in the boyʼs thoughts, as has just about everything so far.
You can tell me if you think itʼs necessary…
Ghorf was sure they were late and would arrive only after the harvest fair was over and all the offworld trade departed with their portion of this year’s stars. Ghorf, yapping and hollering, whining through supper and again at breakfast and full volume all along the hot dusty roads. Ghorf, kicking your backside long before dawn in the days before they joined the caravan, “to get you going, bratkid, are-you-gonna-sleep-all-day?” Ghorf and Jism bickering, shouting, all along the trail:
“We’re right on schedule, cuz. Cut the crap, huh?”
“We were with the caravan long before this last year.”
“We were not. And you know it, Ghorf.”
And they trudged on, as weary as the little boy in Aunt Sarai’s stories. The little boy, who didn’t listen to his kindly step-aunt when she told him what not to do, who always ended up in some terrible calamity that taught him the lesson of his life. She told good stories, Aunt Sarai. He missed them on the journey, even when he was telling himself he was like that little boy, condemned to wander the big world’s vast deserts in search of happiness.
But unlike the little boy in the stories, he would never find it. Never ever, never never never. The rhythm of the words, remembered, rocked in his mind, echoing inside of his skull. His head felt large and heavy on his neck. His eyes seemed slow and tired.
Orion is my favorite constellation, mostly because I figured out to see it for myself and I can actually see it (the constellation will be rising into clear evening viewing above the horizon by late October and remain very visible in the southern sky through the winter). I laugh to realize that the mythological Orion was a mighty hunter, ironically for my favorite star image.