The Split Rock
Chapter Two - The Village
SEAN SNEEZED as they entered the village, dust hung heavy in the air. The noise was loud and boisterous as people rushed from one group to another.
His father halted the cart and leaned down close to Sean. "Off you go and find some friends your own age while I go and sell the apples. Don't look so worried, you can't get lost, the village is not that big!"
But to Sean it was enormous. The houses were bigger and closer together. It seemed that out of every window and door somebody was looking at him. A large hairy dog came up and sniffed his leg then, licked his face. Satisfied that he posed no threat the dog wandered off.
As Sean watched his father head off to the far end of the street he felt a tug on his sleeve. A boy, about the same age grinned up at him.
"What's yer name?"
"I'm FiŠin because of me wild hair."
Sean smiled, Fiain's hair stuck out at all angles from his head. It matched his big brown eyes and wide smile that showed two front teeth missing.
"Want to play stones?"
"I don't know how to play."
Fiain grabbed his sleeve, "Come on, I'll show ye!"
He dragged Sean around the back of a house to a dry gully. In the dirt a circle was drawn and in the middle lay some small stones.
"Now, get some stones and stand over there," Fiain instructed, "and follow what I do."
"A hah! I knew ye'd be here! Mammy wants ye to get some water from the well. . .."
Sean looked at the girl standing in front of him with her hands on her hips. Long black hair cascaded down her back to her waist. Her large dark eyes stared at him with curiosity and contempt. She tossed her head.
"And who are ye?"
"I'm Sean. Who are you?"
"Oh, listen to him, country boy are we?"
Sean said nothing. He glanced at Fiain standing behind the girl making faces. He had pulled his hair into two strands, straight up from his head, his foot scratching the ground. Sean laughed. He looked like a donkey. As the girl whirled around. Fiain ran and disappeared between the houses.
"You think my brother is funny do you - country boy? Well, nobody laughs at Fiach-dubh and gets away with it! Like the raven I have sharp claws."
Sean saw it coming and easily dodged her closed fist.
Fiach stopped in surprise, then threw another punch. Sean stepped back, hands by his side. "Why are you trying to hit me?"
"Because," she tried to kick him, he avoided her bare foot, "yer laughing at me. Stay still, so I can hit ye!"
Sean moved in, grasped her by the shoulders and held her arm's length. "My mother told me it's wrong to hit another person, specially a girl."
He felt her relax under his grip.
"Yer mother should talk to me brother, he's always hitting me."
I bet you hit him back."
"I have to. What are ye doing here?"
"I came with my father to sell apples." Sean let go of her.
Fiach gave him a dazzling smile. "I love those apples, do ye think ye could get one or two for me?"
"I would have to ask my father."
Fiach held out her skirt and tried to curtsy. "My, don't we talk funny, yer like those kings me mother told me about when I was a child."
Sean smiled, looking her up and down. "You are still a child and I think you have the wrong name. You should be called Casaim, like the wind you never stop blowing. You never stop talking long enough to draw breath!"
Too late to dodge it, Sean took the brunt of her kick on the shin.
"There, that'll teach ye to be rude. Will ye get me an apple - please?"
He hobbled a few steps, stopped and looked to the sky. "What is that noise. It sounds like thunder but the sky is blue."
All Fiach could hear was the hum from the crowd on the other side of the houses. Then she realised what he meant. "That is the sea. It pushes the stones up onto the rocks and drags them down again. Have ye never seen the sea before?"
Sean shook his head.
"We'll go down there after Melo comes."
Sean stopped rubbing his sore ankle. "Who is Melo?"
"Where do ye live? Up in the mountains? Ye never heard of Melo the Giant?"
© John W. Kelly