September 14, 2013

14. The Problem With Blueberries

The Unfinished Song: Initiate
(Start at the Beginning of the Novel)

“Handprint” by par-rish

“Oh, Dindi,” sighed her mother.

Uncle Lubo slapped his thigh and bellowed with laugher. In minutes, the whole clan joined him.
“For mercy’s sake, girl,” said Great Aunt Sullana. “Did you smear your face with blueberries?”
Dindi’s hands flew to her face. It did feel sticky…. Horrified, she glanced back at the pile of soap lumps she had left by the cistern’s lip. The lumps were blue.
Blue soap. Blueberry soap. The fae had mixed the blueberries, not the soaproot, with the ashes and lard. Oh, mercy. Her whole face must be stained with the indelible juice.
“Because you don’t know her well, you may think Dindi’s just a little strange,” Papa said to Zavaedi Abiono. “Once you get to know her better, you’ll realize that’s not true. She’s extremely strange.”
Uncle Lubo’s renewed peals of laugher reverberated around the smoky kitchen.
“Enough,” said Great Aunt Sullana. It was a decree. The guffaws of the uncles subsided to an echo of snickers and snorts from the younger cousins. “Where have you been, Dindi? Hadi says you ran off without him despite my express wishes.”
Dindi shot Hadi the wounded look of one betrayed. He shoved a pisha into his mouth and shrugged.
“Seven and seven times and seven times more,” said Great Aunt in a voice wheezing with age, “I have warned you and warned you about going off on your own. Didn’t I just say that strangers have been spotted in the woods? What if some outtribesman had seen you alone and made off with you!”
“Well,” said Papa, “You’ve been wondering how we’d get Dindi married off.”
“I said I wanted her married off, not carried off. Elli, can’t you put a leash on this man’s tongue?”
“If I had married a goat, I could leash him,” Mama said. “Instead you had to marry a boar.” Papa just laughed. Great Aunt Sullana turned to Zavaedi Abiono. “You see what I
have to put up with, Zavaedi.”
Zavaedi Abiono glanced at Dindi, at her sticky blue face. He emitted a non-committal cough.
She wanted to die.
“I gave up on taking that wild child in hand long ago,” went on Great Aunt Sullana. “If her mother won’t do it, I can’t. And her mother won’t. Will you, Elli?”
“She’s still just a child, Aunt Sullana,” Mama said. “Not for much longer,” said Great Aunt Sullana. The adults’ conversation moved on, finally and thankfully, but beside Dindi, Jensi and Tibi began whispering. “Dindi, before you arrived, Abiono was asking what year you were born,” said Tibi. “He asked about Hadi and Jensi too. Do you think there’s going to be an Initiation?
“Of course that’s what it means, you squirrel brain,” said Jensi impatiently. “It’s finally here. Finally. You’re lucky, Dindi. It came early for you. It came late for me. Just think, Dindi, a year from now, we can start to pick a husband! And after that, you know what comes next. Babies!”
“Ugh,” said Dindi. “I can do…

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Author’s Comments
The delightfully goofy photograph is by par-rish 

on deviant-Art.


Tara Maya

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