The Last HammerSong
by Edmund R. Schubert
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Through the window of his elevated seaside shack, Jafartha watched as a deep red
moon climbed out of the ocean to join the two copper orbs that had risen several
hours earlier. Though he knew there was still time until the three moons aligned,
Jafartha was increasingly anxious. Tonight was too important: it was time for the
Procession of Kings. It was time for his youngest son, Kitja, to become a man.
Kitja had always been smart, the smartest in their family by far, and in the past
year he'd gotten immensely strong working the family's fishing nets. But Kitja
was squeamish -- and that made him weak. He wouldn't try to catch the simka
fish; he wouldn't go near a cayalla beetle; and worst of all, he didn't want to cut
off his mother's upper left arm.
Jafartha could no longer lie patiently in bed, watching and waiting while the Sky
Kings decided where to converge. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and
sat up, propping himself with his lower arms on his knees and his upper arms
against the windowsill.
He gazed down below, at the tide surging against the pylons that held his shack
high above the ebb and flow of the sea.
A chill breeze blew through the night.
Jafartha closed the window against the cold, but it was no use; the wind blew right
through the cracks in the walls of their meager shack. Goosebumps crept over his
hairless body, starting in his midriff and radiating down his two legs and out all
Jafartha hated being cold.
His wife sat up in bed and slid behind him, rubbing his back feebly with her
underdeveloped lower hands.
He snorted. Women. Their lower arms possessed less strength than a whimpering
But when she caressed his scalp with her stronger, upper left hand, Jafartha closed
his pale-green eyes and sighed with a deep satisfaction. That felt wonderful. It
didn't do anything to change his decision, but it felt wonderful.
Jafartha noticed the warmth of Yonhe's breath in his ear as she whispered, "If you
make Kitja amputate my last good arm, I'll never be able to do this again."