Friends at Play

The following short story is from a universe of my own creation, which I am building bit by bit. As such, it is close to my heart. I hope you enjoy it! Expect more from this universe every other Wednesday (opposite to diary entry Wednesdays).

“It’s the king, stupid. See the jewels in his turban?” Karim said, prodding the piece of paper clutched in his new friend’s hands with the wooden stick he had been using as a pretend sword. “And that’s you lot.” He shifted the wooden stick slightly to indicate the swarms of people sat around the central figure.

Sayem frowned down at the drawing, which made ‘his lot’ look quite dirty and ugly. “We don’t look like that.”

“Some of you do,” Karim replied carelessly. He then liften the wooden stick into the air. “Hey, let’s carry on playing – I’m one of the guards, remember, and you’re a robber trying to get into the – “

“What’s the bit at the bottom say?” Sayem interrupted. It was written in the local language, and he did not know the script, even though when spoken it was so similar to his own that there was hardly any difference.

“Ah, I dunno Sayem, you know I don’t know my letters that well,” Karim frowned, his arm dropping to his side and a blush creeping into his cheeks. “C’mon. Stick it back onto the tree or chuck it, let’s keep playing!”

Sayem’s eyes lingered on the drawing, but he sensed his friend’s impatience, and so folded it up very small and tucked it into a pocket of his trousers, so that it was out of sight for the time being. His father would probably be able to read the letters – he had been a famous scholar back home, before the war came.

“Alright, let’s keep playing. Can I be the guard next time?”

Karim laughed. “Maybe.”

The boys started sparring with their wooden sticks again, darting from alley to alley. They were surrounded by mud brick houses. Women were collecting washing from lines strung from window to window over the dirt paths, and men were returning home from their labours. The occasional tree towered over them, the very outskirts of the jungle just touching the edge of the neighbourhood.

After a time, when the sun had turned orange and was hanging low on the horizon, Karim heard his mother shouting for him from one of the windows.

“Coming, Ma!” he bellowed back. “Just a few minutes!”

Both boys leaned on their wooden sticks, as they usually did after an afternoon playing together, and looked up into the distance. On a hill on the other side of the city they could see the marble palace, gleaming magnificently in the setting sun.

“One day, I’ll be a guard there,” Karim said happily. “Doesn’t matter if you’re highborn anymore. They’ll train anyone, so long as you’re strong.”

Sayem glanced sideways at Karim, who at ten years old was about two older than him, and said, “What about me?”

The hesitation before his friend’s reply was all the answer he needed.

This was a very ‘wow I’m truly exposing myself to the world’ post to do!

Please be gentle with this one, though I always accept constructive comments (because they will help me improve my writing, storytelling and universe building, whether it’s keeping in something you think is already good or tweaking something that isn’t so good!) 🙂

Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Ro

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