Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Friendship (04/04/05)
TITLE: Santaal and the Wooden Leg
By Maxx .
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"We are fools, Fawlaan," he said. "The two of us. We are." He looked to the sky and the distant stars. "That ship carried your eyes and my leg. Yet here we remain!"
"What more can be made of it?" She took his arm, as she had grown accustomed. "Come. There is gathering to do."
"Bah, gathering what you cannot see and I cannot carry!"
She was the girl with a way of finding coal-spice. Others dug in vain using great machines that scarred the soil. Fawlaan would find it on the surface as if by magic, right in the open. Great nuggets of prized spice. Being sightless, this was a curiosity.
"God gave me eyes, Santaal," she once told him. "He just put them in my nose! I can smell things from a great distance."
He had smiled and patted her head. "Silly young girl," he said. "When you have as many years as me you'll understand the difference."
He glanced up at the sky, towards the ship that was no longer there, towards the leg that he had found and then lost again. The small hand on his arm squeezed and he smiled.
His father had scolded him so many years before. "Santaal, don't run in the mines or you'll fall into the grinders and loose your legs! And where would be the good in that?" His father had been half right. When Santaal was eight he slipped and lost one leg to the machinery.
"See, I told you! What good will you come to now?" was all his father would say.
The words stayed fresh for forty-five years.
Santaal and Fawlaan first met at the clinic when the doctors visited. No, neither could be helped. What can be done at a clinic for the blind and lame? "Have you considered," the doctor asked them, "traveling to Earth where they can replace what you have lost?"
Santaal had not imagined such a thing was even possible. "They can do this? Replace my leg? On Earth they have this ability?" He knocked on the wooden limb as if he were checking to see that it was still there. "I would consider such a trip!"
Fawlaan only sat, playing with her ponytail. "What need is there for such a thing?"
Santaal gasped. "But for eyes! Surely this would be worth the journey, child! There is much to see in the world!"
"God has put great images in my mind." She raised her face to them. “He has shown me what the fragrance of the flowers look like, and I can see the sound of the wind in my hair! What more does one need than that?”
"But how do you live? How do you travel?"
"As to the living there is coal-spice; and to the travel, with the help God provides at that moment."
"Bah! Where's the good in that?"
Again he saw her, that same evening after the doctor dismissed them. She waited for help in order to pass through the stream of trolleys and carts that clogged the thoroughfare. Her smile blossomed as the setting suns painted lavender across her cheeks, and he took to calling her Lilly.
"Greetings again young Lilly," he had said.
“Santaal. I knew it was you.”
“How did you know this?”
“The rhythm of your step on the walk, the scent of your cloak, and the aroma of vegetables you carry for your broth.”
“Truly you see better than most!”
“And look,” she extended her hand towards him. “Coal-spice, to add more flavor.”
"Only if you’ll join me in this humble meal. Here, let me help you to cross."
She placed her hand on his arm and they set off. "Thank you. You are an excellent guide."
"Bah, I can barely walk yet I excel as a guide?"
“God uses all things for good. Even slow walking.”
He laughed as his father's words began to heal.
The shuttle was gone. They left the launch site together — he, her eyes and she, his redemption. "I have this thought in my head, Santaal," she said, "that it is a good thing you have a wooden leg."
"Yes," he agreed. "And to think a sightless girl has taught me to see this thing."
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