“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.
Written for THE GAUNTLET. First challenge: HISTORIC HIPSTERS (1000 words or less.) Without naming them as such, make sure the reader understands the protagonists in your historical setting are, indeed, hipsters.
Sloppy? Heavy-handed? Maybe. Do I care right now? NOPE.
Glad I came back to leave comments after all these months, because yours are ever a treat even if I'm reading them for the second or third time. With this one, I think you really nailed that prompt! And you give such a succinct impression of cultural appropriation, too. I don't think everyone realises how hurtful it can be.
I don't care if it's sloppy or whatever, either. It's a fine read. Our ancestors are always fun to write and read about. This one really reaches a lot about that, and culture, and I can see a hipster movement here. I always think 'hipster' is kind of an insult, and I think you caught that.
Per Wikipedia, "hipster" is a label applied to other people, never to oneself. Definitely had to do some research for this one. I'm glad you liked it!
but I do like you worked in a point about their tendency towards cultural appropriation as well.
I've always been shaky on what exactly a hipster even is. A skim of the Wikipedia page got me the idea that appropriation is one of their defining features.
I read your comments first, and then was pleasantly surprised by the depth of this story. I think it's very poignant.
Thank you! It's always hard to judge one's own work, but all the more when it's written late at night. I'm glad this one holds up.
I'd love to see or write more stories exploring this era. Also, that last line is really friggin solid