October 23, 2012


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

F Trope: nature magic

Anasazi Taveewach and Iobhar Seabright are descended from Anasazi shamans and Briton druids -- and they meet at the University of Auckland during their semester abroad studies.

During their orientation, they are whisked off to the island of Wahieke. Exposed to the Maori culture there, they both feel more at home than they ever did in the desert Southwest or Southhampton area of England...

Anasazi was listening with only half an ear to the Kiwi group leader – notably NOT Maori – as she droned on the about the need for them to be sensitive to the cultures of others and not to laugh at anything.

Beside her, without moving, a young man said softly in an intriguing British accent, “The name’s Iobhar Seabright, you can call me Ibby.”

Anasazi lifted an eyebrow. There was no denying that the young man thought he was attractive. And Anasazi had always been a sucker for curly red hair. She also knew he was trying to impress her by being ‘American’ and making up a nickname. The Europeans she’d known at her inner city college loathed the American penchant for abbreviating everything. She did, too. But not for the same reasons. Names had power in the cultural traditions she'd grown up in. She whispered back, “My name’s Anasazi Taveewach. You can call me Miz Taveewach.” She only just managed to keep the smirk off of her face.

She watched him struggle with a grin, but when he turned to look at her, she caught an odd glimmer. Not the smoldering seductiveness she’d expected – but a gaze that spoke of deep sadness. She frowned. The Kiwi said, “I’d like to turn the rest of your orientation over to the real guide here, Bianca.”

A short, dark woman stepped to the front and introduced herself, then said, “I’ll give you a couple of choices right now. I know you’ve had a long trip and some of you would just as soon relax, shower and unwind before we start our regular programming. Feel free,” she made a peremptorial, dismissive gesture then paused. The group started muttering happily at the thought of a mostly-free day. She continued, “However, if you were interested, I could take a group on a tramp. It’s a bit of a distance, but it would give you a clear picture of the island and what we’ll be doing this week. Any takers?”

Most of them opted out, but Anasazi, “Ibby”, and two other boys raised their hands. Bianca said, “Then I’ll set you free and the four of you can come with me.” They set off after she directed them all to make sure their shoes were firmly knotted and the boy’s belts were tight. At first they followed a well-worn path as it angled some down toward the beach. The walking track they followed went along the line of the peninsula to Maitiatia where the ferry launched, dipping down to the sand then climbing up rolling hills.

The tramp was, in places, AAAAAAAAAAGONIZING. Though Anasazi considered herself fit – she got good grades in physical education – she wasn’t super outdoorsy. She was willing, but not in great shape. The tramp took them up VERY steep hills on paths made of mud and then down equally steep hills.

After an hour, Anasazi was glad to see that the boys were panting as badly as she was and all of them were sweating through their shirts. As they slid down a muddy slope, she heard a thud and a loud grunt followed by muttering that she realized consisted mostly of imprecations against some deity and were mostly about appearing to be a clutz in front of an incredibly cute girl.

Anasazi wasn’t vain, but doubted that “Ibby” had the hots for the tour guide. That would only leave her...

That line of thought was scrambled when Bianca exclaimed down on a broad expanse of beach that sloped up from the ocean water. She waved excitedly for all of them to come to her. When they reached her and gathered around, she pointed down.

A stingray that was easily the size of the dog that had been tagging along after them lay dead on the ground. She said, “This is a tremendous good omen; a blessing! The stingray is a guardian of the sea god Tangaroa. Some of our people – you’ll meet one of them when you go kayaking later this week – will sometimes pray for a blessing when they see something like this!” She swept them with a serious, deeply humorous gaze and added, “He’ll also likely offer up thanksgiving -- after you’ve returned to shore from kayaking in one piece. The stingray is fairly far up on shore most likely because of the unpredictable weather lately. It’s been dead for a while – see the bugs and sand in the eyes.” She picked up a stick and poked the nose. “You see, the skin near its nose is getting springy.”

She shook her head sadly, clearly overwhelmed. After a few moments of silence broken only by the gusty wind coming in off the ocean, she said, “I’ll get Tops, the other tour guide, to help me carry it away and hide it. Once it’s decayed and dried, I’ll come back.”

“Why would you want to do that?” one of the boys exclaimed. His nose wrinkled in disgust. Anasazi recalled that he was a political science major. Wimp.

Bianca said, “I can use the bones...”

A buzz-cut boy, ROTC, who had tried flirting with her and as boring as dead skin, said, “That’s gross.”

“Ibby” stepped closer, “accidentally” bumping the ROTC brat. Brat spun in to kick “Ibby”’s feet out from under him. But the Brit gripped his hand, squeezed and soldier boy went down. He looked at Bianca and said, “Do you plan on using the bones for a ritual?”

Without skipping a beat,  Bianca said, “Art.”

Anasazi frowned at Ibby, looked to Bianca then back at him. “What did you mean by that?”

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