Gypsies Don’t Fly

Voices clamored for attention, pushing the small, dark boy toward the makeshift trampoline. Estev had contrived his brainchild from a collection of rubber from spare tires, young wood, and some metal springs he had saved up for, then, after a month’s worth of work, bought from the ancient church-man from down the road.

The children screamed excitedly, grabbing almost desperately at his feet.

Estev’s emotions were quiet, as always. Cold, empty thoughts raced through his mind, hindered only by the occasional sharp pain in his right leg. It was better than it had ever been, and the wheelchair Estev had built for the twisted, broken leg had been taken apart and used for other creations. Almost a year had passed since he had built the trampoline, yet it still hadn’t been christened by it’s creator’s tattered shoes.

The voices grew louder and the words came more frequently, rising steadily and quickly. But it would never reach its crescendo of sound.

“I’ll do it,” he said, and the group went quiet. He had always been the one left out, the one who spent days building and earning and saving and working and inventing and dreaming, then watched his friends enjoy the fruits of his labor. It was a shocked silence. Then one of them cheered, and the group erupted into laughter and cries of triumph. He felt a host of cold hands push him forward.

Without second thought, Estev leaped. His legs slammed into the rubber, and the trampoline thrusted him into the cold winter air. A heavy, inescapable weightlessness enveloped him. He turned, his legs moved impossibly slowly, and the excited screams of the boys around him slowly faded into silence, replaced by the whispers of the air.

Thoughts sped through his mind, so much to think, so little time before he returned to the hard earth, to the world that had never accepted him. He no longer knew which way was forward, and he couldn’t know where he would land. It was thrilling, terrifying. Did he truly want to leave this life? This life of restrictions and oppression, and yet of the purest freedom. Did he want to know where he would land?

The boy’s feet slammed into the ground, and he forgot it all. The whispers of the air faded, and the wild screams returned as the boys leaped on their older friend. They pulled him to the ground. They were laughing, he was laughing, and he had lost the thoughts of the cold winter air.

Gaysavār

Warm rain thrashed the filthy streets, scarring the bent, twisted and frail city that was Jodhpur. A boy wandered the alleyways, his feet wrapped in rags, clutching a tiny piece of bread. A small calf – Raksåka – followed him, nudging the boy with her warm, wet muzzle every time she caught up. The two knew each other well. Both were young, raised without a taste of their mother’s milk, starving orphans in a desecrated paradise.

They trudged through the city, avoiding contact with the other urchins that filled these streets. Suddenly the boy turned, standing in front of the holy animal with the confidence of desperation and fatigue. The calf continued to walk forward, aimlessly bumping into the boy. The boy, insulted, grabbed Raksåka by the head and wrestled her to the ground. Squealing, but unable to move, the calf kicked desperately until she was too tired to struggle. Then the boy released her. She scrambled to her feet. The boy tackled her again.

Malnourished as they were, this happened only three times before they collapsed. But the boy rose quickly from his exhaustion. He held the calf on the cobbled streets for the greater part of the hour. Then both of them rose, and the calf began to wander once again. But the boy would not be walking any farther. He leaped on the calf’s knobbled back, holding on desperately to her slippery skin. Raksåka did nothing, continuing her pointless roamings with the tiny weight of the boy on her back.

The rain continued, but seeing it was useless to try and avoid soaking their rags and saris and expensive Western clothing, the people left their houses and returned to their work. They watched with amazement as the boy, who had tamed the beast of the streets, rode past them. They named him Gaysavār, rider of the cow, king of starving orphans.

The Die is Cast

A cool mist rose from the slow-moving waters of the Rubicon. On the north bank of the river was Gaul and the legion of Gaius Julius Ceasar. To the south was Italy Proper and the seat of Roman power. The river was a dividing line: one that was forbidden to be crossed by any general leading forces. To cross would mean civil war.

The faces of the legion were stoic, unchanging; they stared blankly across the water and towards Rome, but their minds were all focused on the same thing. Would their general lead them across, would he order them to attack their homeland and wage war on their brethren? Or would their march end here?

Ceasar was more than aware of the misgivings of his soldiers. But he was also confident in their loyalty. He had depended on them to follow him as much as they had depended on him to lead them. Thus was the bond and the way of Legio XII Gemina and its leader. Ceasar knew, if he crossed, the world of Rome would collapse as he knew it and a war like none ever seen before would follow. The support he had was sufficient, and he was almost certain that, at the end of the bloodshed, he would emerge victor. This is what he deserved, and he expected no less.

A ray of sunlight broke through the cold mist, and when Caesar looked up toward the skies, an eagle eclipsed the sun, casting its shadow upon the river. The legion needed no more sign, and their doubts were almost instantly dispersed.

Julius Caesar took the first step into the river, breaking the mirrored surface.

“Alea iacta est.” He said. The die is cast. His eyes focused on the capital of the greatest empire that ever stood, less than six days march away. He would hobble the very empire he was born to serve and lived to protect; and this step would become the fall of the Republic of Rome and the rise of the Roman Empire. As he continued to wade forward, and the water churned as the legion followed, Caesar’s gaze never broke from Rome.

The Tooth-Breaker

And she stood, pushing her trembling body out of the mire of manure and moss that covered the floor of the cavern. Above her was the Red-Fanged Beast, towering, smoke and poisonous gases leaking out of the corner of his half-open mouth that could not contain his immense teeth, even when they were broken and half-gone. It stared through its black pits down at the half-child human girl, and she stared back up at it, defiant but with a hint of pleading in her eyes. Long ago, its sight had been taken from it by the cold steel arrows of men, but it could see her there, a living tithe offered to a Beast that wanted nothing but to end it.

The Beast shifted forward, and the girl flinched imperceptibly. An uncontrollable wave of primal fear rushed through her. She stifled it. Her father had said to die like a man, die like her mother had, without fear. But the Beast did not crush her with its huge, coarse hands just yet. it walked slowly  past her, and she was transfixed by its movement. The Beast reached the opening of the cave. it was touched by the warm sunlight, and a low rumble of pain emanated from it. it reached upward and dug its hands into the rocky ceiling, then pulled downward. The girl watched, and then realised what it was doing. She ran toward the Beast and threw her fists at its feet wildly.

“Stop! We are both going to die in here!” She screamed. it took no notice. She dug her fingernails into its thick, black-grey skin. She bit it. The cave shook and dust fell from the ceiling. A boulder fell outside the cave and blocked the light. The dark red veins of the Beast throbbed from the exertion. At last she stopped her vicious assault and collapsed. A tear slipped from her white-clouded eye and she immediately, instinctively,  wiped it away, hoping that no one had seen. The mountain was groaning and parts of the cave had already fallen. She looked upward and it was already looking down, at her. it had heard the sound of the tear. it was a sweet, delicate sound, but shockingly loud. it pulled its hands from the ceiling, reached down toward the girl’s face and touched it, lightly. She pulled away, punching the hand. But it was too late.

It had felt the wetness of her cheek. It had not been lying to itself. She had cried. And as the mountain collapsed around them both, the Beast cried also. Crimson blood seeped from its skin, dripping and falling to the shaking floor. The girl watched in horror. it’s sightless craters, now filled with blood, stared at her in desperation that she could not understand, hoping beyond hope that she would someday know truth. Then its blood became a river, pouring from gaping wounds that had opened themselves. And the floor of the cavern was covered with its sticky, foul-smelling blood. And then the Beast fell, almost crushing the girl but stopping itself, rooting its hands into the ground, locking its arms in place. Then its head drooped as the last of its lifeblood seeped out of it.

There was near silence, for a brief moment, as the eye of the storm passed. And then the mountain fell, and boulder after boulder pounded the huge, broad, rough back of the Beast, as the porcelain girl hid beneath it.

My Political Compass

Political compass: January 24, 2015: 

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This is where I land on the political map, according to the politicalcompass.com’s test. It seems pretty accurate. I guess I’ll be chillin’ with Ghandi, then.

Political compass: January 19, 2016

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Remarkably, I have not moved at all on the economic level – I’m still significantly left-leaning. Also surprisingly, I moved right on social issues, not left. The largest change, I think, is that I have become much more politically engaged. When I first took this test, I had basically just discovered politics. I remember asking Mr. Dowdle what side he thought I was on because I did not know myself. Since then, I’ve thought about and developed a position on almost every political issue.