Hello! Benjamin from Brothers Campfire here! Gather around and I will spin you a tale.!
Money was unheard of in our neck of the woods.
Favors being a currency, dad lent me out frequently, bragging all the way.
Dad told everyone I could split and stack wood like none other, but that was a blatant lie.
Dad said we came from a long line of Woodfolk with a gift for swinging an ax, and I would be no exception if I kept at it long enough.
His anecdotes about felling trees were many and irritating. This included his boasting that we were related to Jeptha Berengar of yore, and that was a bit much.
Everyone knew Jeptha the Beast was just another werewolf love story, but not to dad.
He soaked up every tale, retelling them time and again, with emphasis on Jeptha being the finest woodcutter to ever split wood.
“One day, you will tell your son everything I have told you, just as my father did.”
Respectfully like, I told dad “Yes Sir ” so as not to get a rod to my backside, but I wasn’t planning on it.
I envisioned myself telling my son,
“Son, we break big chunks of wood into smaller pieces of wood. Then, we destroy all of our work by burning it. It’s a family tradition.”
Well, here I was, not yet as tall as an ax handle, splitting and stacking wood at uncle Walter and aunt Betty’s place.
I despised the work for it made me angry and sore. I thought to myself,
“Dad can eat a rotten otter”, but I was always worried my thoughts could be read, so I didn’t think about those thoughts much.
Well, I stacked a fair bit of wood and was a bit hungry, so I pulled out my lunch bag.
Mom had tied an impossible knot to secure it, and I couldn’t get it open. I cursed her under my breath.
Just then, aunt Betty’s two boys, Jabez and Jacob came by. Both were quite a bit older than me.
They had been digging a trench at a neighbor’s house.
Jabez just stared at me for a while, a mischievous devil in his eyes.
“Walter, Walter Berengar”, he said slowly and emphatically.
“Yes?” I asked.
“See the long end of the string?”
“Give it a pull.”
I gave the string a pull and the bag opened right up. Both brothers laughed and I felt my face turn red.
“Ah, don’t feel bad, little cousin, you didn’t know.”
Having brought lunch as well, they expertly opened their bundle.
It seemed the portions they had were a bit smaller. They ate quietly and carefully to not miss a crumb.
Wiping his mouth with his sleeve, Jacob looked at me curiously.
“How is your family doing?”
“Stupid,” I said. “They are stupid and make me upset. I don’t want to cut wood. I want to be home cooking with mom. I didn’t ask to be a woodcutter and wish I had never been born. The whole world is stupid I tell you. “
The brothers looked at each other and laughed.
Jabez gave me that devilish look again.
“Walter, women work in the home, and hard work it is.
You work in the forest because you are sturdy. It is what men do.”
“Furthermore, you get to use an ax because your dad owns one and we don’t.”
I did my best to argue.
“But it is cold outside. I want to be where it is comfortable. Dad can chop the wood if he wants and I will stay inside.”
Jabez ignored me.
“We heard you curse your mom, and that’s bad.
You didn’t notice, but your mom gave you a large portion in your lunch bag. I bet she set aside her lunch so you would be full today. Walter, you are selfish and ungrateful and need to stop being a baby.”
Well, my blood boiled inside and I was so angry I stood up and kicked Jabez in the shin.
It was a foolish miscalculation and my cousins thrashed me something awful.
I ran home, promising never to go back to Uncle Walter and Betty’s house again.
Tearfully and with much embellishment, I told mom that Jabez and Jacob hit me.
She was wroth with Uncle Walter, Aunt Betty, Jabez, Jacob, and the whole countryside and spoke of going in the warpath like the Heron tribe did.
That is until dad got home, a little later than normal. He had gone by Uncle Walter’s to pick me up to find I had left the family ax in the woods. After a bit of looking, he found it.
He discovered other things as well. They heard me say dad can eat a rotten otter and that I was saying mean things about mom.
To top it off, dad found out I wanted to be inside instead of working.
Oh, how I resented the little birds that carried such things to my father. I am sure I never said them, but the sting on my backside said otherwise.
I hated it all.