[An instalment in a work in progress, click ‘fantasy’ on the right to view all entries in this story, in reverse order from most recent to least]
One day Alex woke to the sound of another scolding. ‘You!’ he heard his father bellowing through the wooden walls that barely held up the roof. ‘A man yesterday asked me to punish you. Do you think I should?’ Alex kept quiet. He was quite safe, don’t be misled. His father had never laid a hand on him, in fact his sternness was largely born of his concern, hidden in a typically fatherly way. But safety in this case is yet painful, as all one cares to care about is the cause of a parting of father and son. ‘Do you know why he asked me that?’ Alex did. ‘Because you have been talking to his son about those people from the sea! Tell me, where are they? Which part of the sea? When did you see them? Why cannot anyone else see them? Why have only the senile and the drunk seen them? Can you answer me? I think not.’
This was a script often acted in the house of Alex’s family. On days when his father had something to sell Alex would be safe, and eat breakfast with his father before he rose away with a laden cart. But when business was going at a slower pace than his father liked, Alex hid in his bed until he heard the hooves of his father’s horse clop down the road. When the sound faded he would see the loving and round face of his mother, with her beautiful dark and long hair braided behind her, at the door. ‘Alex my boy,’ she would say, ‘believe what you will, but do get out of bed. You’ve got a day of learning passing you by already.’
Alex was deemed, by a town elder or two, to be a softer type of boy, unfit for studying the making of things. Instead he was sent each day to a scribe of a nearby village, whom he disliked just slightly, to study the ‘finer’ things, such as numbers, words and stars. His teacher saw his boys as the best of all people, something that very much pleased many of the other boys, but something which seemed altogether tiring to Alex.