I walked into the fancy establishment my friend worked at. She assured me I’d have no problem getting in. I shifted my turban a bit higher on my head. It was too large on me. I absently grabbed the ear-flap and tied it to the other side to try to muffle the sounds of chatter that resounded on either side of me. Suddenly, a brick wall was in my way. I looked up.
He was huge, with dark skin and nothing to cover his massive chest, save scars and crossed arms. Slowly, my eyes went higher still, to his face. He stared at me with the pale eyes of someone from the north, maybe even as far as Icesog. I took a step back quickly. “Sorry, sir.” I moved to step past him, and a heavy hand fell onto my shoulder, faster than I could think.
He had a strong arm. I was out the front door and on my face in a pile of some sort of dung before my thoughts caught up. As I rose, laughter erupted behind me. Shame clouded my vision, and the next thing I remember, I was at home, washing and crying.
The rest of the night, I stayed inside, away from the eyes of others while I slept fitfully. Even my best friend was laughing, I was certain.
Later that night, a hand shook me awake, and I cracked my eyes open to stare at a woman my age in smeared makeup, wearing clothes that weren’t there underneath a white linen bath robe. “Go away.” I groaned and tried to cover my head.
“No way. I came to see if you’re alright.” She shook me again. “Don’t take Brick so seriously. I mean, I know he embarrassed you in front of everyone, but he was scolded very harshly!”
“He threw me into a pile of dung! A scolding isn’t enough!” I turned away angrily. “He should be fired!”
“Now, don’t be cruel! It was a misunderstanding!” She swatted me. “He thought you came uninvited, because I was freshening up when you came in.”
I refused to believe that, and curled up tighter.
“See, and because you ran away crying, now everyone thinks you’re a child, instead of a man who is going to be married next year. I’ve seen women and girls with more balls than you!” She stormed off and slammed the door. I flinched at the loud noise and waited, and eventually fell back asleep.
I woke up to bright light in my face, and began to panic. I pulled myself from bed and hurried to dress. I had chores to do! I swore as I yanked on my pants and tied them in place, then I yanked on my tunic and paused as I reached for the place my turban would be… if it wasn’t being washed. I swore and darted out to find my old spare. Driazhek was too sunny and hot to go without a turban! With panicked desperation, I pulled on and wrapped one from a few years back. It was threadbare, torn, and stained, but it would have to be good enough for doing chores.
My feet sped me to the yard, where I hurried to sweep the chicken coop of their wastes, and then I fed them. The stupid things tried many times to steal the bag of feed, but I was taller than they were, so they had to struggle, and eat from the ground.
That chore finished, I darted off to water our garden. The fruit trees were growing well, and so were the sugar beets I planted around their roots in secret. Father would be pleased about my disobedience for once, I was sure!
The rest of the day was gone in a haze of chores and heat, and when I finally fetched my turban from the cleaning line, the sky was darkening. I wrapped it around and let the chin flap dangle freely in front of my chest. Since the rest of the day had gone well, I took a deep breath and headed back toward my friend’s workplace. I wanted an apology!
I did check for dung before I went in, though. No use embarrassing myself a second time. I was certain I’d have to run away into the desert without water if I did that. I kept my eyes up, and spotted ‘Brick’ before he could spot me. I walked to him, and he looked at me, then made a strange gesture with his hands.
That was right. He was dumb. For a moment, I stared, and then hung my head. “Join me for a drink? I want to get stupid.”
The huge man grinned and thumped me on the shoulder, then led me to the bar. Only then, did I notice his magnificent mustache. It was so pale, it seemed white. I could only stare until he noticed and crossed his eyes, then grinned. He tapped the bar with a thick hand and pointed to his throat, then to me. He walked off, likely to continue working.
“What did that mean?” I asked as the bartender walked over to me.
“It means he’s buying two of your drinks for you. Probably the first as an apology, and the second because you like his mustache.”
Somehow, that was hilarious. I began laughing. This huge man didn’t seem quite so bad, now!
I spent a good time drinking, and when I went home, my friend walked with me. At least, despite my size, I had good fortitude. I didn’t vomit or pass out at all. My friend and I spoke for almost an hour. She looked so happy, and her clothes looked very inviting. I began to reach for her with anticipation. Would her body be soft, or would it be firm? Always when she wasn’t at work, it was kept hidden away. In her work clothes, I could see the chiaroscuro that made each curve come out at me.
She swatted my hand away and told me to try again when I wasn’t drunk, and then left. She sounded disgusted with me.