Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | November 19, 2010


Fall 2006. Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz Mountains

Part 1: Glass For Seeing

Part 2: Where the Peaks Meet Sky

Part 3: Circle of Seven

Part 4: Homefamily

Part 5: Tinderdeer

Part 6: The Water-Voice

Part 7

Enid walks back to where I’m dragging my feet in the dirt.

“Boys will be boys.” She smiles and holds out her hand. I look at it for a second, and suddenly miss Issa and Peony and even all my homebrothers and sisters I left behind. Before a tear can squeeze out, I grab her hand and she squeezes tight.

We walk like that, not talking, just holding hands, listening the boys being stupid up ahead.

“Do you miss anyone?” I finally ask. Because I don’t really know Enid at all. I know she’s a Helper, but that’s all.

“Of course.” She lets go of my hand and shows me the bracelet she’s wearing. It’s got strings escaping and some of the knots are crooked.

“Dee made this for me. She’s one of the children I watch sometimes.”

“From the Hatha homefamily?” I guess. All those kids have names like Dee and Ree and Kee.

“Yes. She is like the daughter I will never have.”

I nod. Helpers often choose that job because they can’t have children or don’t want them, and instead devote their lives to helping one or two homefamilies—as nannies, cleaners, and general handymen or women. It’s not something I’d ever want to do for the rest of my life. I was lucky to get my stones. Stonebearers usually teach, heal, or judge.

I touch the stones in my pocket, and wonder how I’ll end up. Is the tinderdeer really my bondmate like the Mother of Stones said? What does that even mean?

“What spells do you know?” Enid asks.

“Just the basics. I’m not very good at it.”

“Show me.” She grins. “No one will notice.”

I grab a stone at random. Green. “Green for mossy, wooded glen,” I chant, winding the stone around her wrist. Soon she has a second bracelet of thin vine next to the one Dee made.

We laugh.

That night, I talk to the tinderdeer again. This time, when no one else is looking. With the box in my pocket, and the water-voices in my ears, I’m collecting secrets like a river tumbling sharp stones into a deep, dark cove.

All of the deer can talk to me, but only one really wants to. She has a small dark spot on her nose and her horn curves back so far it almost touches between her long ears. Her name is Akula.

“We understand everything people say. We always have,” she tells me.

When Wes calls her a stupid beast for stopping to scratch her leg against a stump one day, she just stands there and refuses to budge.

“Come on, you dumb deer!” He orders, turning red in the face.

I try not to laugh. “Maybe you should say please?” I suggest.

He glares at me. Kelton walks over. “What’s the hold up back here?”

“It won’t move.” Wes is suddenly all grown-up and calm. “Give me your whip and I’ll make it go.”

Kelton shakes his head, one hand resting on the whip at his side. “That won’t be necessary. Have you spoken nicely to her?”

Wes loses his cool. “Fine! It won’t work, though.” He turns to the deer. “Pretty please, will you keep walking?”

Akula snorts, then sneezes all over Wes before striding on again.

I can’t help myself. I’m laughing so hard I almost fall over. Rolph and Trill are laughing too.

“They respond better to kind words,” Kelton says. “Something you should remember, boy.”

Wes is stung. I can see it in his face, and I kind of feel bad for laughing, but not really.

Part 8: Statues Along the Path



  1. […] Akula […]

  2. […] Part 7: Akula […]

  3. […] labeling each scene with “Part 1, Part 2,” etc., but I think this scene goes in between Part 7 and 8, and I don’t want to keep renumbering […]

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