Published: September 21, 2018
“Ooh, what’s that you’re wearing?”
Wind-seed raised a hand to the necklace he’d strung together the night before. “You like it?”
Blackthorn nodded, squinting at Wind-seed’s throat. “It’s, like – it reminds me of something, but –”
“It’s inspired by those necklaces the Neanderthals always wear.” He didn’t mean the strangers living in distant caves, but the second- and third-generation folk with heavy brows and big noses who lived clustered in the southwestern corner of the Cro-Magnon encampment. “Cool, huh?”
“Cool,” Blackthorn agreed, eyes tensed with thought.
Wind-seed wasn’t the only Cro-Magnon to wear one of the Neanderthal-ish necklaces – not anymore – but he was the first. Whether the thick-nosed woman knew that or whether she was just lucky was anyone’s guess.
“Those necklaces,” she said. “They’re not for you.”
Wind-seed had seen her before, of course: the encampment was large, but not that large. Boar-tusk, he thought her name was.
“Our necklaces are the cord that holds our two worlds together. They’re made with the memories of our grandfathers’ families. Memories are all we have of them – you understand? They’re not for you. And you’ve made them wrong.”
Her voice was steady enough, but her eyes burned like embers beneath her brow. The force of her stare took Wind-seed off guard.
“Hey,” he said. “It’s a compliment, okay? They’re really cool-looking!”
Boar-tusk spat at his feet.
The whole encampment was wearing the necklaces now. Only the children of the Neanderthals – who before had worn them proudly – now kept them tucked beneath their furs.
Wind-seed was starting to dislike the feel of his – the first – around his throat. It had been special at first; now it was just another necklace like all the rest.
“What’s wrong?” Blackthorn asked him as he pulled it over his head.
Wind-seed shrugged. “I liked it better before everyone else was wearing them.”
Across the encampment, with shaking fingers, Boar-tusk tied another cord.