An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.
“People worry too much about getting lost,” said The Pochteca. He’d removed his red swaddling hat and his square-armed cotton shirt studded with tiny copper bells that made him the most recognizable traveling trader in the country.
“If you don’t know where we’re going, then we’re lost,” said Sowi, a fast-running, gangly legged boy with no fear of asking questions.
“Where are we?” asked The Pochteca, looking around and raising his arms in question. He wore the half-smile that rarely left his lips and that seemed to elevate his being. The Pochteca seemed to enjoy almost everything.
“Right here,” said Sowi.
“You are gaining wisdom every day. And where are we going?” The Pochteca leaned back into a bed of ferns that his small army of orphans and misfits, the burden-bearers for the goods he traded, had gathered for him. He had become the surrogate father of a very large family with no mother.
“To a place where people stack stones into big piles,” said Sowi.
The Pochteca laughed loud, and the older girls washing his clothes at the creek looked at him, one shading her eyes with her hand.
“Piles of stones!” He laughed hard again. “That’s good. Piles of stone that dwarf the piles of stone you’ve seen in Totec Canyon. These are mountains of laid stone with stairs that climb nearly to the stars and with altars and shrines on top. People wear clothes as brightly colored as my hat, but of many different colors. They wear jewelry of shiny yellow metal and polished stones of every shape and kind. The fields of corn are three times taller than the corn here, and water is more common than dust. That’s where we’re going. And since we know that, and we know we’re here, we are not in the least bit lost.”
The Pochteca laid his head back and closed his eyes.
“So which way do we go from here?” asked Sowi.
“South,” said The Pochteca without opening his eyes.
A sheer cliff rose across the stream to the south and ran as far east and west as could be seen. “How do we get over the cliff?”
“I don’t know.”
“How will we find out how?”
“I don’t know.”
“So we’re stuck. And lost.”
The corner of The Pochteca’s mouth turned down and he scratched his face, still without opening his eyes. “I think only Sowi is stuck and lost. The rest of us know if we walk from here, we will always get there.”
“It’s like the drawings on the rocks,” said Sowi. “We walk in spirals and never get anywhere.”
“We got here.”
“Is this where we were going?”
“Wherever we are is always where we were going.” The Pochteca’s voice had lost its power as he drifted toward sleep.
Sowi jumped up. “I’m going to go find a way over the cliff.”
The Pochteca opened his eyes, looked at Sowi, then closed them. “Good idea.”
Sowi jogged away and a fly landed on The Pochteca’s face and made it to the corner of an eye before he slapped it away. He looked around and saw Sowi and a few other boys making their way to the cliff. He smiled and lay back again into the soft fronds of fern. “I’ve never been lost a moment in my life,” he murmured. The fly returned to his face and crept in a spiral toward his eye.
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What do you think of the point of view here? It’s kind of a close-in limited omniscient. Does that work for you?
Note: As explained in Wikipedia, “A pochtecatl (plural pochteca) was a professional long-distance traveling merchant in the Aztec Empire.” I’ve abused the word a bit by making it into a singular pronoun. While there’s no evidence to my knowledge that such a traveling merchant class existed in the world of the Anasazi, there’s plenty of evidence that long-distance trade took place.