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The Wishing Map
Chapter Sixteen: Fisher Folk and Naims (Cont’d)
Previously: Zack began telling the “story” he saw in a plank of rainbowood.
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Tuber whacked Zack on the shins and said, “Finish the story!”
“Well…” Zack continued, “…the only person brave enough to go there and try to take the piece of sun out of the pond was Zachary Zinn.”
“Aha! I knew it!” Bulgy blasted. “Who’s ‘Zaggyzim?’”
“Who is Zachary Zinn?”
“Aye! Who? Who?” the naims asked, their mouse-like ears and button eyes intent on everything Zack said and did.
“Well, he’s…he’s kinda me, actually,” Zack admitted, “but—”
“Aye! Look!” Noddie pointed at Zack’s Green Lantern hoodie. “It’s Zaggyzim holding up the sun piece he took from the Pond a’ Steam!”
Zack looked down at his hoodie, chuckled, and then, plagiarizing shamelessly, said, “Oh, yeah, that’s the lantern I carried it in. The yellow power made me afraid at first, but then I used green Starheart power—which is the power of imagination—to overcome it, because imagination can overcome anything!”
“Traith!” the naims cried. “Traith!”
A little boy named Bud was squirming around in the middle of the table, giggling and making “kushooooong!” sounds. Others were tittering and poking him, saying, “Ooooooo, this little piece a’ the sun is so hot!”
“Here, Zaggyzim,” Sniggle (the boy’s father) said, “take this piece a’ the sun away before it burns us!” Noddie (the boy’s mother) helped toss him into Zack’s arms.
Zack was caught off guard for a moment, but the boy, who was precisely the same size and level of excitability as a squirrel, was utterly delighted. So Zack carried him over to the smaller meeth bowl, complaining, “Woah! You’re piping hot!” and “Ow! Stop burning my fingers!” The boy giggled wildly. Zack pretended to pull him out of the bowl and then, putting him up on one shoulder, said, “ZZ called for his faithful steed, Fury, the demon stallion from Hell!”
“Look!” a naim said, pointing at a black horse-like shape on the plank, “There he is!”
“Yes! Look!” others shouted.
“And then they rode up into the sky,” Zack continued, “past the moon…”
“I see it!” said Tuber, stepping away from the Bulgy clique and pointing at a roundish white shape on the plank. It was more than mere excitement for the old naim, it was a spiritual awakening! Bulgy scowled, annoyed at the loss of Tuber’s fealty.
“When they got there, ZZ threw the piece back into the sun where it came from!” Zack tossed the giggling child into the waiting arms of half a dozen two-foot high adults.
The naims began pounding the table, cheering, “Hey-fah! Hey-fah for Master Zaggyzim!”
“Hey-fah!” Zack echoed, settling onto a four inch high bench. The naims had pink faces and pointy noises that, along with their upturned ears and black button eyes, gave them a decidedly mouse-like appearance. They wore fingerless gloves and toeless shoes. Some were bald and swarthy, with permanent dirt stains on their faces; the women of this type wore smudgy little caps with their hair pulled up inside. But others had headfuls of russet hair and light airy garments; and the women of this type wore lidless caps that made their hair stick up like vermillion paintbrushes.
“So, you guys like to make up stories, huh?” asked Zack.
There was a moment of silence as if he’d asked the silliest question anyone had ever heard, and then Bulgy, the group’s self-appointed spokes-naim, said, “On’y more’n we likes ter eat or sleep!”
Hearty communal guffaws followed. Several naims tugged on Zack’s earlobes—which they had to jump to reach—a universal sign of naimish affection.
“Everything begins with Story” Tuber said. All of the naims nodded.
“But its play an’ pretend as makes a story real!” added Sniggle.
“Traith!” many responded.
The naim-boy, Bud, climbed up onto Zack’s lap and pleaded, “Nuther story, Uncle Zaggyzim! Nuther story!”
“Hey-fah for Master Zaggyzim, the greaty-est storysmith as ever was!” heralded Tuber, and every naim in the room echoed “Hey-fah for Master Zaggyzim!”
Zack smiled. He’d finally found a race of perfect adults.
Thoughts: Have you ever discovered some skill or calling, and thought, “This is what I was made for!”?
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