The World Above the Sky

The World Above the Sky by Kent Stetson

Book: The World Above the Sky by Kent Stetson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kent Stetson
name was Pharo…”
    Blank gazes showed they understood nothing of what he was saying. “The place where summer lives,” he repeated, pointing south. “The place from where summer comes and sends winter back to the home of all cold.” He pointed north. Nothing. He pointed south. Bafflement.
    â€œAnyway,” Mimk ɨ tawo’qu’sk persevered, “they brought picture signs that speak, like these, a long time gone by, back beyond the distant edge of story and of memory. See this picture mark here? It is like our picture mark for creek. And that island? These picture marks beside the drawing mean Apekwit.”
    â€œWhat’s he saying?” Antonio asked.
    â€œThat word Apekwit’s what they call the red island,” Athol ventured. “I heard it mentioned frequently.” He turned to Mimk ɨ tawo’qu’sk. “We had a grand weekend there, didn’t we laddie! He’s a great wee lad, this Mimk— Mimtic—”
    â€œMimk ɨ tawo’qu’sk,” said Mimk ɨ tawo’qu’sk, laughing. “My name is Mimk ɨ tawo’qu’sk—how many times do I have to tell you?” he repeated, purposefully running the words together in one breath, smiling broadly.
    â€œWhat’s he saying?” Antonio repeated.
    â€œThat enormously long, half-whispered, extremely sibilant word appears to be his name. What a time we had! I say, what a time! Sang and danced the nights away. I introduced the bagpipes. They became great admirers of my skill, I say, great admirers, clearly much moved by the blessed pipe’s music, all my stirring chants and mournful laments. Oh my. Aye. We walked delightful beaches—mile after mile of pinkish, golden sands, which they stroll for no apparent reason other than to chat among themselves, and walk off the excesses of the previous night, which are considerable and varied. There were dozens there. Not only the folk from around this bay, but their clans, and clan-friends who appeared to have come from great distances out of the northwest. They chat, laugh, take serious council, play at games of strength. Games of skill and courage. And they bathe! Daily! Some several times a day. Apparently for the pleasure of it! What madness. I can comprehend a bath after a long sea voyage. Or bloody great good battle. If absolutely, I say, if absolutely, necessary. They’re forever hopping out of their leather clothes—scant though they be—and leaping into the salty sea. The men on one side of an outcropping; the women, secluded from prying eyes, on the other. I myself waded one day—not above my ankles, mind. The water on the red isle’s northern shore is unnaturally warm. The beach slopes gently, stretching far offshore. The young lads dive from the sandstone rocks into shallow bays, three or four fathom, clear as crystal, swim like otters to the bottom and return to the surface, a lobster in either hand! Lobster, gentlemen, I say, lobster as big as cats and in great number. Bays and tidal rivers, rich beyond description, creep with all manner of crustacea. I gorged on clams, mussels, enormous oysters succulent and abundant. Near their main encampment luxuriant meadows abound, ripe with vine and berry. And, my! The vistas across the numerous bays and rivers. And the colours! Red-earth cliffs, blue sea and sky—the sky is vast—and the rolling landscape shows more shades of green then old Hibernia herself. Aye. The red island. It is a pretty place this Apekwit.”
    â€œYes, A’thol! Apekwit.” Mimk ɨ tawo’qu’sk pointed to the island, and then to the map. “Good for you. Means the-side-of-a-boat-when-you-see-it-a-long-way-off-and-it-is-low-in-the-
water. We call it cradle-on-the-waves for short.”
    They looked at Mimk ɨ tawo’qu’sk, each blank as though they’d been struck on the back of the head with a stout

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