The Cursed Darkness - Tabitha
- ...They called me Tabitha – the gazelle – for my long thin limbs, like my father’s, my swiftness, and my…. Well, I did eventually grow into myself enough to achieve some measure of grace...
- ...Father would sit with me, at the low table by the fire – or on pleasant days, outside under a tree – and teach me games. There was one he called Goh, played with smooth stones laid out on a tree stump. I loved the cool touch of the stones against my fingers, loved watching the strategies unfold; in my mind I could see within each game the advancing and retreating of armies, the slow seductive dance of a courtship, countries rising up and falling apart. Sometimes when we ended I would tell my father the story I had seen in the game we had just played; and his eyes would smile. Then he would re-set the board to some crucial moment in the story – he always carried every move perfectly in his mind – but change the placement of a single stone, then watch as the ripples changed the course of the rest of the story. “Remember, gazelle,” he would say, “the slip of a single pebble can bring an avalanche...”
- My mother was called Shaheen – the falcon. I remember the early days, the smell of the hut, the smoke of cooking-fires and the wet fat stink of entrails. Our hut sat at the edge of the village – a little apart, just as we were – and every few days some poor brave soul would venture in with an offering – a rabbit, or a chicken, or on very good days a young goat – from whose insides my mother would read the future of the supplicant.
- She could have read just as well from the tattered cards she always kept in the pouch at her hip – but as she was fond of telling me when no one else was listening, cut cards don’t still the rumblings of a hungry belly...
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