The Aphorisms of
dare [ DAWR eh ], (noun) . family; those related to an
individual or under his/her protection as a family (important: this
includes chosen-family as well as blood-family)
"Help me," the historian said, and with
those words absolved me of all our rules. I grabbed his elbows before he
could collapse and gently steered him to the windowseat, where he crumpled
and fell to sobbing. Startled, I cupped the back of his skull and held
him. We were not close, the historian and I, but we knew one another from
the intersections of our public services.
"What happened?" I asked when he quieted.
"My lover broke with me," he said, "whom I
thought my beloved."
I understood then. "Lie here. I will bring
The historian sank onto the cushions. I
brought him the tea; his hand found mine and we both knew great comfort in
the touch, so rarely shared beween acquaintances, even when caste-equals.
"Tell me," I said.
And so he did, and the tale was as I
suspected. Dallying within the caste was expected and went unremarked,
unless the liaison produced family bonds: either in the form of children
or in an adult's request to join their beloved's family. Sometimes such
formalities sprang from our dalliances; mostly, they dissolved when
convenient. The historian's heart had become entangled, but his lover's
When at last he was spent, I asked, "Why
did you come here?"
He closed his eyes. "I knew you would
I nodded and tucked a blanket over him.
While he slept in the sunlight, I sent a
message and retired to my desk to resume working. For a time there was no
sound save that of my art: the scratch of quill on parchment, the plangent
drop of paint. But soon enough I heard high laughter in the distance, and
I set aside my quill to wake the historian. He had just enough time to sit
up and wipe his eyes before the children of our lord's House tumbled into
the studio, followed by their caretaker for the day.
"Here are the Calligrapher and the Family
Historian," that worthy said. "They have offered to tell you stories this
The historian glanced at me, wide-eyed,
but then the children squealed with glee and arranged themselves around
us, on us and against us. With a full lap, I said to him, "Perhaps you
He stammered at first, but our lord chose
him for a reason. He recovered well. His voice held them spellbound...
tickled laughter from them and drew hushed gasps. It was well into the
gloaming before the children were herded away, to return to the House and
disperse there to their parents.
I prepared fruit, cheese and tea. Over
this light repast, the historian said, "Thank you."
"I am sorry about your beloved," I said.
He nodded. "So am I. But I didn't
understand... I thought I wanted romance, when what I wanted was family.
Without knowing that, I would have found sorrow in every tryst."
"Romance is a spark," I said. "It kindles
nothing without the wood of family."
He smiled. "Paint that one for me."
And I did.
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© 2007, M. C. A. Hogarth