Sunday, November 16, 2014

In Resemblance Of

I'm participating in flash scenes with MJ Bush. The scene below was written in response to her image prompt here.

This is a work of fiction. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

A young child, blindfolded, was escorted into a tent and bade to sit before an old man. The old man waited until the arrangements were complete, then sent the soldier away. This interview was for the child’s ears only.

The old man used his most gentle voice when he heard the quick and shallow breathing of the child before him.

“Tell me about yourself.”

When the child did not answer, the old man began a slow walk in a circle around the tent. But the child remained still and the old man detected no movement. There was no squeak of chair nor rustle of feet. Only silence accompanied his walk even as he came to rest at his starting point.

“You may go,” he said.

The child stood and the soldier brought in a second child, and led the first away. The question and the circular walk were repeated, and once again the child was excused.

The old man grew tired but kept performing the many interviews throughout the day. When the last child was brought in and seated, he wearily repeated the question he had asked of all the others.

“Tell me about yourself," and was once again disappointed by the silence in the air. But then, the child spoke.

“What do you want to know," she said, in a small and hesitant voice.

The old man returned to his position in front of the girl.

“What is your age?” he asked.


“What is your height?”

“I suppose, five feet or so. But my mother says I’ll grow taller than my tallest sister.”

The old man smiled at these answers, and then peppered the girl with similar questions. All mundane and innocuous, and gave no hint of the purpose of the interview.

“What are your favorite foods, and how are they prepared?” He listened as the girl shifted in her chair.

“Oh, I have many favorites.”

“Please then, do tell?”

At this request, the young girl described first the rather bland but filling meals she helped her mother prepare for their family. Then she ventured into the exotic meals of her master, who let her use far more spices than her mother could afford. And finally to the sticky sweet treats she created for her master's children, whispering how very rare it was for such delicacies to grace her own plate.

When she had described the last, he called softly to an escort who came and took the girl’s hand and led them both out of the tent and into another.

The girl could not contain herself for the succulent aromas that filled this second tent. She inhaled through her nose, long and deep, and exhaled slowly through her watering mouth. The old man tilted his head to the sound of her breathing.

“I have one last request of you,” he said, and the escort carefully removed the blindfold from her eyes.

She blinked, and gasped when she saw the table full of all that she had smelled and more. Flours and rices, oils and spices. Sugars and salts and meats. And eggs, of all shapes and sizes. There were large wooden bowls and spoons, and forks and knives made of metal. And nearby were two very large ovens, already fired and ready to be of service.

“I would like you to prepare a last dessert for my son and I, and for our most gracious chef.”

The old man’s voice turned her attention away, and she saw him seated beside a younger man whose resemblance was uncanny. Father and son, she thought as she was finally able to inspect them.

She swallowed as she realized how regal they looked. Their beards were neatly trimmed, and their hair was queued high above their heads. Her hands began to shake as she noticed how they folded their own into the sleeves of their gold and black robes, and sat tall and straight before her.

Finally understanding who they were and what they had asked of her, she bowed low to the old, blind emperor and the defeated crown prince.

"As you wish, sire," she said. And even though she knew she would be required to accompany them to the end, for his last request she would use all her culinary skills to assemble the most fine and royal cake befitting of them all.

<word count: 725>

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