You Were: The Hunter

August 10, 2010

You grew up in the frigid north. I’m not sure exactly where, and I can’t pinpoint when, but I do know that you reached the North Pole long before any man had a chance to plant his flag in the ice. But that’s not the point of this story. If you want to know more about the real discovery of the North Pole, you’ll have to contact The Archivist.

You were an Inuk, a stunning girl with silky black hair that never stayed tucked beneath your fur-lined hood and cheeks that turned a lovely red in the cold. You had more than your share of suitors, but you refused them all. A life spent cooking over the campfire simply wasn’t for you. Shortly after you were born, your father had asked a shaman to place a tiny ivory whale in your mouth, in the hope that his daughter would grow to be a fierce whale hunter. Your father got more—and less—than he bargained for.

At the age of six, you built your own qajaq and would set off alone in the tiny boat for days at a time. By the age of eight, you could drive a team of dogs faster than any of your brothers, build an igloo in an hour, and throw a spear past the horizon.

And yet, much to your father’s dismay, you refused to hunt the small, smiling white whales (the ones we know as belugas) that swam in nearby waters. You would go hungry for days rather than eat a bite of their flesh.

You never told anyone—it wouldn’t have made any difference—but you had a very good reason for refusing. Once, when you were still small, a fierce storm struck while you were out at sea in your tiny boat. The air was thick with snow, and you couldn’t even see your hands on the oar. There’s no doubt you would have perished, had three white whales not appeared beside your boat and guided it to land. When the blizzard finally blew away, the trio was still there, waiting to make sure that you had survived. They smiled at you before they disappeared beneath the waves.

Your father would have told you they had been sent by Sedna, the goddess who lived at the bottom of the sea. You knew that wasn’t the case. The whales had acted on their own. The creatures you’d been taught to believe were unthinking and unfeeling had chosen—yes chosen—to save a little girl.

At seventeen, you could no longer endure your parents’ constant badgering. And you knew you were of little use to them if you refused to hunt—or cook—the white whales. So you took the six dogs you had raised from pups and journeyed away from your family, across the white wasteland.

You had been traveling for days when you came across a large hole in the ice. Inside, six white whales had been trapped. The winter had come too quickly that year, and the ice had formed all around them. The open ocean was now too far away to make it to safety on a single breath. At the edge of a hole an enormous polar bear crouched, hoping to capture a meal. The whales thrashed in the water and avoided his claws. But they were growing tired, and a fatal mistake was only minutes away.

You defeated the polar bear and built an igloo next to the hole. For the next six months, you stayed with the whales, learning their strange language, and dining on polar bear meat. You came to love them, and when the spring thaw finally arrived, you were devastated to see your companions swim off to fill their empty bellies.

Weeks passed before you saw them again. You were rowing around an iceberg when the six friendly whales surrounded your boat,  almost lifting it out of the water. They steered the craft to the north and pushed it for a full day and night. When you finally reached land, you were startled to see a campfire by the water’s edge. There sat a young man. He didn’t leap up with his spear in hand when he spotted the whales. He smiled and waved at them instead. The whales smiled back, and then they disappeared beneath the waves.

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2 Responses to “You Were: The Hunter”

  1. Toodles*** Says:

    Yay! Thank you so so so so much Kirsten!


  2. Congratulations on the first day of your publication! I just stumbled across the ouroboros society website and thought it was fab! I wish there was something like it.

    I look forward to reading your novel!


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