TITLE: WHITE SKY
GENRE: Science Fiction (Literary Crossover)
Jem has been secretly using his elderly guardian’s bow. On the previous day, the old man broke the weapon to keep Jem from using it again.
When Jem noticed that the bowstring the old man had been winding around his fingers yesterday was still on the platform beside him, he cleared his throat softly and pointed at it. “Could I have that--the bowstring?”
Avakab smiled faintly. He picked up the small coil of string and held it out toward Jem. “Of course. I don’t imagine I have any use for it.” He coughed and added, “I haven’t much use for anything now, have I?” The smile grew wider, as if he’d made a private joke.
Jem thanked him quietly and took the string.
After a silent moment, the old rebel’s expression grew thoughtful--perhaps even wistful--and he murmured, “I am sorry about the bow, young man. And I’m glad to think that someone else enjoyed it for a time.” He paused, then said very softly, “It gave me pleasure once, a long time ago. I wasn’t too bad of a shot with it. Though the knife was always my favorite. My special talent, I suppose.” His gaze went to the pale string Jem held almost tenderly in his fingers, the color of the little skein contrasting with the brown skin. “That would work well for string figures; I imagine you could cut a couple of lengths out of it.”
Cutting it hadn’t even occurred to Jem--right then the sentimental value of the bowstring seemed more important than any practical use for a length of string. But he was as touched as he was surprised when Avakab said, “I know you’re good at those.”