My tenth birthday was a full sixty years before my final birthday.
I somersaulted over the gate and landed in an ankle deep excrement pie. There was no time to clean my boots so I quickly abandoned them on the porch before sprinting into my cabin.
“Morning mother,” I said.
My mother nodded.
I was up long before the sun to feed the chickens early so my mother could not scold me for not taking care of the coups and the stocks before breakfast. So I was free to sit by the big unmarked box in the living room, near the fireplace.
Mother cleaned and brewed Ginger Coffee while grandfather sucked on a pipe.
“Can I open it now?” I asked
“Have a seat?” My mother ordered.
I nodded and took my seat quietly at the kitchen counter.
“You need your srength,” Mother said.
“Grandpa says understanding self is as important as building strength,” I said.
Mother placed a steaming bowl of fish porridge before me and started wiping the counter. “Your grandfather will never be drafted.”
“I can still scrap,” Grandfather coughed.
Mother stared at Grandfather. “If he’s not strong enough to wield the armor…”
“Then he’ll get lighter armor,” Grandfather answered.
My mother slammed her rag on the counter. “And less protection.”
“He won’t grow much bigger than he is.”
“Yes he will, father…”
“Let the boy discover what is best for him,” Grandpa lowered his pipe. “What’s best may not be a heavy suit of armor. ”
“What’s best won’t matter if he’s dead, father.”
“I will check on the chickens,” Mother said before leaving.
I fed them already.
“And some more tobacco, please dear,” Grandpa said.
“You have legs,” Mother shot back.
The poultries and meats were reserved for the Shining Knight brigade. Nothing more important than to support God’s mandate to expand the Potentate’s vast kingdom. We had mud-salmon for protein.
Mother’s seasoning masked the bitter taste of Mud Salmon.
I was happy to support the war effort by tolerating a few more months of mud salmon for breakfast. Anything for our divine potentate. Anything for our Glittering Knights.
“Did you thank the Gods?” Grandfather asked.
I nodded. “And the empire.”
“Then, open your gift,” Grandfather said.
I looked over my shoulder.
I was far from finished with my breakfast and I didn’t want to incur mother’s wrath.
“I’ll deal with your mother,” I said.
“Thank you!” I leaped off my stool.
Grandfather grabbed my shoulder.
“Patience,” Grandfather said.
I slowly approached the box.
The box seemed even bigger than when grandpa brought it into the house a week earlier.
I took a breath. I removed the ribbon. I removed the lid. I reached in. I pulled out what looked like…
“A pan?” I said.
I reached in again. Pan lids strung together with chains and leather.
“Your new armor,” Grandfather said.
I wiped away a tear. “I love it…”
I loved it because it was mine. I didn’t care how it was made. I didn’t care how inexpensive it was. I planned to train in it to make it an extension of me.
“Thank you, grandfather,” I said.