Fall!

An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.

The forest rang with calls of “Fall! Fall!” Then the slow pounding of stone on living wood resumed. Men and boys worked two to a tree.

“Look!” shouted the old man. “They have fallen their first tree!” He pointed across a wide glade of grass to another encampment of tree-cutters who had arrived the day after the old man’s crew.

“Our trees are bigger. Harder to fall,” said the half-wit, a man with one eye that googled out of control. The men tolerated him at a distance and rarely responded to anything he said.

“Work, don’t talk,” growled the old man, rumbling his voice like a bear’s. “By dark I want more trees fallen here than there!”

The wood-cutters picked up their pace. They took turns, each pounding their tree with a dull river stone until their arms hung limp.

“Fall!” called the half-wit in frustration. Soon all the men joined in. “Fall! Fall!”

The first tree fell and the men cheered. More began to fall and the old man danced in circles when they had one more tree on the ground than the crew across the prairie.

At dusk, the only tree still standing belonged to the half-wit and his partner.

“Tree too big,” said half-wit, gasping. He beat at it ineffectually and the other men gathered around to watch. The crew from across the prairie walked over to socialize and they, too, watched.

“Why don’t you help him?” asked a man from the other crew.

“We will. But not until he passes out. We have a Grandmother who believes he accidentally casts spells when you help him.”

So they watched until, by moonlight, the exhausted half-wit had whimpered himself to sleep. The men gently moved him out of the way and had the tree down before the women’s camp called them to dinner.

# # #

Can you imagine cutting timber this way? Think of a world with no steel axes, only river stones hafted by wood and leather and yucca string. That’s the Anasazi.

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6 Comments

Filed under #FridayFlash, Anasazi, Ancient Americans, Chaco Canyon, Historial Fiction

6 responses to “Fall!

  1. I was going to comment along the same lines as marisa,. along the lines of community superstition, community work.

    am now pondering the image of cutting down trees with stones, must be some work !

    Good stuff

  2. Here the Abenaki at least had shale they could chip into sharp tools. I can’t imagine felling a tree using that let alone river rock. Their tenacity was astonishing.
    I wonder what the future holds for half-wit.

  3. Community spirit, community superstition!

    Love that though they fear him, they move the half-wit gently out of the way before they help to fall the tree.

  4. This captures community spirit, a fun glimpse into their lives. Some nice characters brought to life in brief, vivid descriptions. Nice story.

  5. Jeff, Despite their hard work, there’s a lightness to this story that feels really nice. I love that the community helps out the half-wit, but only after he’s passed out.

    Considering your other stories, I have half a wit that tells me there might be more to him than just a googly eye, a creepy, but effective detail.

    I’m heading over to read your flash from last week. I’m running behind. Yikes!

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