Issue 29 Oct 2015
The lady at the cemetery front office eyes Ruby Death and her best friend Neon Mica skeptically, taking in their extreme red and pink hair colors, punk-rock clothes, and the fine-tip Sharpie tattoos they’ve drawn on their necks and hands. “No one under the age of fourteen is allowed without an adult,” she says, pointing to a sign with a list of rules.
“We’re fifteen—we have IDs,” says Ruby. She bends to unzip a compartment in her backpack, but the lady waves her off.
“The cemetery closes at sunset. I don’t want to have to send Bernie to track you down at closing time.”
“We’ll make it quick, we’re just here to visit my Uncle Herman,” says Ruby. She shoulders on her backpack and she and Mica take off at a brisk walk along a gravel path that leads through the trees.
I was fourteen and milking the goats when Clan Leader came for me. He wore the typical attire of Nongmin men – brown trousers tucked into short boots, blue cotton shirt and leather vest with various straps around his chest and waist holding tools and weapons. Most of these were for hunting and farming. We were a peaceful people.
One of the goats, a dwarf female, had just emoted her feelings concerning her treatment by two of the other females and I was comforting her. But I let her go and stood up.
Obviously, I had already picked up Leader’s intent. This would not be my first time to be called, though it would be my first out in the larger world.