Tototl Ascends by Nils Durban

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SUMMARY: Nov 2012 Flash Fiction entry

Tototl wove between the legs of the many elders who were making their way along the broad stone road which led up through the town to the foot of the holy temple. His lantern of burning fat swung to and fro on the end of the parana branch that he held supported over his shoulder, amid the myriad of others being carried amongst the milling throng. Moths of all sizes and the tiniest of flies flitted about the glowing orbs, their excitement seemingly synchronous with that of the crowd as it pushed onwards towards the site where the festivities of the last five days would reach their timely climax.

He hurried onwards, forcing himself between the grown ups when he had to, but with his head hung low so that his dark locks concealed his features. To reach the temple tonight would be an experience indeed, yet he was not so reckless as to risk a punishment on the morrow for his unruly manner. He tripped repeatedly in the darkness upon the uneven edges of the giant flags that paved the road, causing him to clutch a robe here and there to gain support. When his hand tugged sharply upon a red shawl, however, its owner came to a sudden halt and spun about to confront him. A pair of deeply set yet piercing eyes were fixed upon him, the gnarled features in which they dwelt lent a demonic appearance by the dancing flames which passed them by on either side. Tototl held his breath, startled and anticipating a harsh rebuke which could bring the festival to an abruptly premature conclusion for him.

"Little Sparrow, is that you?" croaked the figure.

Tototl was washed over with relief, "It's me, Ganya, yes," he breathed, smiling up at the wizened face of his mother's mother, "I didn't think I would be able to find you."

"It was my cloak you found, Little Sparrow. Almost pulling an old woman off her feet - you should be more careful."

"Yes, Ganya, of course," he chuckled, even as the crowd buffeted the pair of them on either side, causing them to clutch onto each other for mutual support.

"I would have thought that you would be off up the hill by now, Little One."

Tototl sighed and held up his blistered hands before her face, a trickle of blood congealed along his forearm. "The mashing was long today, Ganya, and it was late before I was allowed to leave. Then I had to visit the Ancestors before I could come."

Ganya tutted, "hard work will only toughen you, Little Sparrow. Maybe one day you will become a Sparrow-hawk," she cackled at her simple joke, "but it is good that you made time for the Ancestors, today of all days. To remember your place in things is most important. It gladdens my heart that you will come to talk with me there."

"But Ganya," he laughed. "you won't be joining the Ancestors for many years yet. Now let me help you to the temple. I can find you a place where you can be comfortable."

"There is no comfort for these ancient bones, Little One. And don't think for a moment that I'm not aware of why you bide your time here with your old Ganya. I know what you want from me, boy." She turned about to continue along the road.

"Ganya!" he cried out with mock dismay as he caught up to her.

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