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Eleanor T Beaty's Blog

A Character that must go.

published on April 19th, 2013

I’m working on a chapter book – working title Naawe – I have a wonderful person editing the book with me and today I received the suggestion to cut out a character as the opening is a bit crowded. She is very right to suggest it as his existence is just for color but he is funny, so in his honor as he will no longer be a part of the book I will paste his scene here. To Inteh, forever in my heart, as you represent the wisdom of age.

(Naawe is a 14 yr old Indian boy from the Amazon, the son of the chief, who doesn’t want to grow up. The only thing that matters to him is Odu, his armadillo)

 

Old Inteh sat on the rock-carved bench beneath the large tree, staring at the sky. Behind him, in one of the communal huts, five women beat strips of sodden inner bark into cloth. The Manis used the bark to make their loincloths as well as spiritual masks. Two others separated Toucan feathers by size to be worn in their earlobes. None of the women gave Naawe as much as a glance. He guessed his not going hunting had something to do with their attitude.

A sparsely toothed smile spread across the old Indian’s wrinkled face as Naawe reached him. If it wasn’t for those two teeth, one wouldn’t know he was smiling. Naawe wondered if he could find out old Inteh’s age by counting the wrinkles, just like the lines inside a tree trunk represented a growing season. So far, he had never gotten past twenty before Inteh sent him away, annoyed by his stare.

Naawe straightened the lopsided Toucan feathers that hung from Inteh’s droopy earlobes. “You should add a few more.”

Inteh didn’t blink.

“I need your advice. Someone took Odu, when I searched the soil for the trail I found several going off in opposite directions.”

“Why? His meat is too old.” Inteh nodded. “Might still serve for cake.”

Naawe didn’t want to hear that. “Please, Inteh, I need your help.”

Inteh sighed. “What did the trails look like?”

Naawe shrugged. “Imprints of feet.”

“Be specific.”

“Uh…” Naawe lowered his eyes with shame. What Indian didn’t pick up on those details? “They were big.”

“Well, I’ll go see.” Inteh said. He reached for his walking stick and began to ease himself. Halfway up he had to stop and take two deep breaths. As Naawe watched Inteh take the first unstable step and pause to rest, he realized he was in trouble.

“Inteh, I don’t mean be to be rude, but by the time you get to the forest, it will be dark…”

Inteh sighed. “Well, since all the able men have gone hunting, and the women can’t help you, that leaves Bado.”

“Oh.” Naawe drew in a breath. “I hadn’t thought about him.” A half lie since he had just used Bado to threaten the herons. He swallowed and turned his eyes to Bado’s lair, a forty meter-high tree behind the village. “Can you…”

“No,” Inteh interrupted, “I can’t. I don’t understand his screeches. Never have. You better hurry before Odu becomes cake.”

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