On November 3, 2021, P.T. Wyant posted at ptwyant.com a Wednesday Words prompt involving a spoon, spots, and a ringing bell.
This Tale of the Navel was the result…
Spots swam before Tayel’s vision. Every spot contained a different face swimming in color.
A bell rang, tolling out each chime as every face began to sing:
Grant us our wish
We’ll give you our faith
Make us part of you
We’ll make you a god.
Danyel’s voice, sharp with alarm, brought him back to the table, to the kitchen, to the here and now.
Tayel gazed at the spoon in his hand.
Below him lay a bowl filled with untouched broth.
Map hadn’t given up on trying to get the twins to eat, even if it was just a sip of liquid.
“Don’t drift off. Even if it’s just into your own thoughts.” Map stressed each word, hovering behind Danyel, trying to look as if she wasn’t hovering. “Eat a little more.”
It smelled good, the contents in the bowl. Perhaps the scent was simply Map’s concern wafting in the air.
Tayel picked up his spoon, stuck it in the bowl. He gathered a little of its contents into this curious curved utensil humans used for eating. This particular item seemed to work.
Maybe he shouldn’t regard humans in such an otherly fashion. He and Danyel were human-shaped. They had mouths. If Map could eat, so could the twins.
He lifted the spoon to his lips. He managed a tiny sip. Before he could taste it, he started to cough. Tears gathered in his eyes.
“It’s all right.” Leiwell turned his head toward Tayel. His older brother had been resting it on the table after another night away, “serving” his mysterious master. In spite of his weariness, Leiwell’s green eyes were clear and bright. “Just eat as much as you can for now. Eventually you’ll be able to eat more.”
Reflected in those dark pupils surrounded by emerald irises, Tayel could see the tower. Of course it was a tower. It always was the tower whether it wore a crown or rang a bell. He could almost hear the bell ringing, a faint echo anyone could easily explain away as imagination.
He wished he could taste the soup or try to taste it. His throat burned.
Danyel was not to be left behind by his twin. He picked up his spoon, filled it with brother. He took an even bigger sip than Tayel had.
As one, the twins started coughing, gasping for air.
“All right, that’s enough.” Map leaned over to rescue the bowls and the spoons from their careless wielders. “This will heat up easily enough. You can try again later.”
“Eating will get easier,” Leiwell reassured his brothers. “You’re growing. Maybe not quite like human children, but the longer you spend in this place, the more you’ll be able to eat and do other things they do.”
“Really?” Danyel turned to their older brother with a wide-eyed expression of hope. Unlike Tayel, his violet-blue eyes were innocent of any inhuman brightness.
“I did,” Leiwell said with a mysterious, yet sad little smile.
Curious how he both answered and didn’t answer Danyel’s question. Tayel’s admiration and mistrust for their elder brother grew.
“What’s normal varies from person to person in this world,” Leiwell said in dreamy, speculative tone. “Just give yourself time to discover what’s normal for you.”
“I keep hearing a bell ringing and singing.” Danyel glanced from brother to brother. “Do you hear them, too? One voice is louder than the rest. A voice like mine, only slightly older and wiser. A beautiful voice.”
Tayel shut his eyes, belatedly realizing he shouldn’t have done that. He’d just given away the fact that he heard them, too.
Leiwell lifted his weary head from the table to regard his brothers with alarm.
Map stiffened where she stood at the cauldron, still holding the bowls.
“What’s wrong?” Danyel, the innocent, as always had to ask the obvious questions. The wrong questions. The questions which opened doors to answers which were murky, dark, and filled with mysteries no one in this cottage wanted anything to do with. “What is this bell? Whose voice am I hearing?”
“The mind is mysterious, whispering things from dreams which trouble daylight and waking life,” Tayel murmured. “Best to leave them be.”
“That’s right,” Map said, a little too heartily, putting the bowls down with a thump. “Best not to worry about such things. Concentrate on being a part of this world.”
“Don’t let the tower distract you,” Leiwell murmured. “Ignore its whispers and enjoy being alive.”
“Wait, does it whisper to you, too?” Danyel pounced on this particular bit of information like an unwary cat leaping on a devilish mouse. Catch it with your claws and it catches you. “What does it say, Leiwell?”
“I don’t remember.” Leiwell leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes. “It was a dream, I think.”
This didn’t seem like a lie. Nor did it seem like the entire truth.
“Dreams will lure you away from reality.” Map turned around, her brow furrowed. “Don’t let it trouble you.”
Danyel opened his mouth and shut it. He gazed at Map, Leiwell, and Tayel himself frowning, a wrinkle in his forehead.
It was clear his twin thought the rest of his family was privy to some great secret they were excluding him from.
If only Danyel knew. It was best he didn’t. The singing, the bells, they might be part of a dream, but they could turn into a future reality.
Tayel mistrusted the song, the words. There was a darker meaning behind them, a dangerous selfishness to its desire.
He didn’t want to be drawn into the song. What’s more, he didn’t want his family to be drawn it into it.
This wouldn’t stop the song or the singers from drawing close to them.
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