A steep cliff, jutting to unparalleled heights, blocks the sun from our cold limbs. It is barren, unscalable, unyielding stone. Our rocky valley is unreached by far off places.
I often contemplate the meaning of our existance here, my family and me. Why do we choose to live in this desolate valley, scratching out our living in the cold stony earth?
We have lived here for centuries, creating our little life where there should be none, and with each successive generation our history is passed on, to our children and our children's children in a never-ending cycle.
My grandmother is the storyteller of our tiny stone hut village. Tonight, she will gather all of us together around the fire and look at us with her leathery, wrinkled face, smiling on us all. Her hair will be as it has always been, white, sticking out in all directions as though a gust of wind had swirled around her, causing it to tangle.
Around her weak frame will be wrapped the shawl of the of the storyteller, which has been passed down through the centuries, each storyteller leaving their mark and passing it on to the next, deep into the obscurity of time.
With her, she will carry the storyteller's staff, carved with animals, faces, scenes, all from stories that have been passed down through many generations. Each storyteller, when they inherit the staff, carves their own story into it for coming generations to see. One day I will inherit that staff, and in my spare thoughts, I wonder how my story will read.
I sit on the hill, overlooking the whole valley, watching the other children play, all much younger than me, nephews, neices, cousins... my sister's children and those of my aunts and uncles.
I am the youngest of my generation, sixteen summers, almost a woman. This winter, I will marry my cousin, Tehrumaron, who is five years older than me. He is handsome, I suppose, but I feel a strange restlessness toward the idea. At the end of the year, I will cease having the freedom of childhood. As wife, I have to put away childish dreams and take on the responsibilities of womanhood. I will do everything that has been expected of me since birth.
Is that all I am made for? I ask myself, to be a wife and mother? To never travel beyond the valley? Is this the only life I'll ever know?