The second chapter.(not yet completed.)
Many days passed as Nebi sat in the crowded boat. He watched as young kids and their parents worked alongside the river. The sound of the Nile was nothing new to Nebi’s ears. The men in the boat talked amongst themselves. During the many days Nebi learned of each and everyone’s life and past.
Finally, on a hot sunny afternoon the boat started to sail toward a port. Everyone’s spirits were up and they were all smiling.
“Look!” a boy cried. He pointed to a small area to his left. Everyone looked in the direction he pointed. Nebi and several others eye’s widened. There, before all of them were three huge structures rising from the sand. Nebi could make out tiny dots as thousands of men. He couldn’t believe his eyes. What are those? Is this our final destination? Tau smiled and Yafeu laughed.
“Is this where we’re heading, Tau?” Sufu asked.
“Yes! Behold! THE GREAT PYRIMADS OF GIZA!” he shouted throwing his hands into the sky.
The boat hit the crude wooden dock and got tied down. One by one the boys climbed out of the boat. Nebi, in the middle stared at the construction.
“Come on Nebi!” Zahur said, kindly giving him a push. Nebi walked with the rest of the boys and were directed down a path which Tau and Yafeu walked on. The sand felt smooth and hot on their sandals. Nebi stretched out his legs and arms which had gotten cramped up in the days of just sitting in a boat, floating down the Nile.
They walked for what seemed like hours as eyes fell upon them. Some people stopped what they were working on and stared at the group passing by. They finally reached noisy buildings clumped together, nestled in the sand next to the receding trees. They were full of men coming in and out, talking, eating and drinking all assortments of food and liquid.
“Wow,” Nebi thought as his eyes scanned his surroundings. A bunch of men were in a corner stuffing their faces with freshly cooked meat. In another corner there were many people crowded around an exciting game that had everyone cheering for who they thought would win. All around Nebi saw mats on the floor in their own little stall. Sosme men were sleeping on their woven mats, some snoring loudly.
The group came to a halt as Tau stopped in front of vacant stalls.
“This will be where you boys will sleep for the next few days.” He motioned towards the mats.
Nebi just stared at the eight stalls.
“WE will have to share,” he said, looking at the mats before him.
“Correct!” Yafeu cried slapping Nebi hard on the back. Nebi gave a sharp yelp of pain as Yafeu’s hand landed hard on his burnt skin.
“Nebi! You can’t work in that shape!” Tau said circling Nebi.
“Oh.” Nebi exhaled, biting his lip.
“Her come with me,” Tau rested his hand on Nebi’s shoulder and pushed him toward a building to his left.
“Yafeu, you know what to do.” Tau instructed his companion. Yafeu only nodded, turned and began to talk to the others.
Nebi didn’t catch what the man said as he was directed into a bunch of workers chatting amongst themselves. He almost got separated from Tau when a big man stomped in between them, shouting orders to workers. The environment became deafly quiet.
Nebi caught up to Tau as he was pushed into a small building. It’s coolness relaxed Nebi as Tau pushed on his back forward in the direction of a man who was busy tending to a mans shoulder. He barely stopped himself from screaming out in pain. The patient looked calm and serene as the man expertly rubbed his aching shoulder.
“Excuse us.” Tau said as he addressed his arrival.
“Over there,” the man motioned his head toward a stool against the wall.
Tau followed his instructions and sat on the bench, Nebi right behind.
“How did you get that burn?” Tau asked examining Nebi’s back.
“Working, in the fields. With my father,” Nebi continued looking out the window at the big man who was still shouting, “ I forgot to put oil on my back that morning.”
“So it was your fault, then.” Tau said giving a wry smile.
“…Pharaoh…coming…son!” the big man bellowed. Nebi whirled around, now fully interested and completely forgetting about Tau.
The streets got silent as the man could be heard.
The king’s…coming here? Nebi asked himself. He managed to end his thought as the big man quieted and ran off into the shade of one of the many buildings. He squinted his eyes, trying to get a glimpse of the man he had seen on the Nile.
A small precession of about six men came walking up, on their backs they carried a large platform. A man sat on the chair that rested on the platform’s surface. He looked exactly like when Nebi had seen him on the boat. He only looked straight ahead into the building sight of his pyramids. Slowly, the precession advanced forward and out of sight. Once he was gone the streets filled with workers once more. Nebi just turned around and stared down at his feet. Tau nudged him slightly and looked up.
“Have you seen him before?”
“Yes. Once, he was on a boat, sailing past my home.” Nebi answered, his eyes stone cold.
“Thank you, now go back to work!” The man said waving his patient good bye. He turned toward the two sitting on the bench. “What are you two here for?”
“My friend here,” Tau said turning Nebi around so the man could see his back, “Got a little bit burnt.”
“A little?” The man said washing his hands in a little bowl. “That looks more than a little if you ask me. Come here.”
Nebi did as he was told and strolled over to the man, glancing back at Tau who just smiled.
The man searched his back and poked it a few times asking Nebi if it hurt.
“Yes, yes it does hurt there, and there.” Nebi answered wincing every time the man touched his scorched back.
“Ahh, I see. Okay.” He turned and went into a small room off to his right, coming back a few moments later with bottle in hand. He popped the top off and let the substance fall into his palm. He rubbed his hands together and approached Nebi.
“This may hurt a bit.”
He placed both his hands on Nebi’s back and began to rub the entire surface. At first, Nebi had to bite his lip to stop from moaning, after awhile he slowly released his grip on his lip and just stood letting the man do his business. After awhile the man slowly stopped and turned Nebi to face him.
“How’s that feel?”
“Good, because that’s all I can do for a burn like that. I’m afraid if this doesn’t work, you’ll just be stuck with a bad back. Good luck working.” With that he smiled and motioned for another man who had come while Nebi was being assisted.
“Don’t I need to pay you?” Nebi asked.
“Okay, have a nice day.”
Tau took hold of Nebi’s arm and pulled him along out of the door.
“Well, you look sort of better,” Tau tried to make Nebi feel happier as he could see the boys face frown.
The two walked back to where the rest of the boys had settled down and were busily munching of food. Nebi’s eyes wandered the stalls, trying to find an open mat for himself.
“Nebi!” Thabit called out. He raised his hand to make himself stand out. Nebi walked and sat himself down next to Thabit, on a crude mat.
The boy smiled and handed him a loaf of bread. “Eat it, its delicious!” Nebi smiled, accepting the bread and quickly taking a bite.
“So, where did you go?”
“To this medical building. The man only put this oil on my back to try and help it. How does it look?”
Thabit turned to his back. “The same.”
“Damn, I knew it. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to live with it for the rest of my life.” With that he laid down on his mat and looked up into the ceiling of his building. His eyes scanned the other boys who were eating and drinking various kinds of food. Their mouths stuffed to capacity as they tried to continue what they were trying to speak.
“So, is this where we’re going to live?” Nebi asked taking a sip of water from a jug sitting next to him.
The mid afternoon sun drifted slowly across the blue cloudless sky. The rays striking anyone who got in their way. People came and went through out the day as Nebi rested on his mat next to Thabit. Thabit had beautiful dark brown hair that whisked in the soft breeze. His eyes where what set him apart from many others, they were light mahogany brown. They sparkled with his youth, which was still new.
“Thabit, remind me, how old are you?”
“Because, I don’t you, you just seem so young.”
“Oh, you’re sixte-“
“Seventeen, almost eighteen.”
“Oh! Well I’m almost about to turn sixteen,” Thabit smiled. Nebi laughed at his friends comment.
“You guys!” Zahur said, tapping Thabit on the shoulder. “I heard Yafeu say to Tau that they would be heading back to recruit more boys, that they’ll be leaving tonight. Also, we’re supposed to start work tomorrow too!”
“What fun.” Nebi said shaking his bottle in his hand, “what fun.”
* * * *
“Mother?” Amisi said as she poured a water over her head. Her mother next to her washing her arms.
“How do you think Nebi’s doing?”
“He’s a tough boy, he’s doing great.”
“I miss him,” Amisi said refilling her pail.
“I miss him too. We all do.”
Amisi poured the bucket of water over her head once more and headed back to the house. Squeezing her hair till all the water came out, she disappeared behind a tree.
“Omar? Where are you? I know you’re hear somewhere.” She laughed as she rested the bucket on a tree stump.
I hope you’re okay Nebi. I miss you, I can’t believe its been almost two weeks since you left us. She touched her cheek where the man had slapped her. I know. She got up and marched into her bedroom. She grabbed a pair of scissors which were found in a cabinet nearest her parent’s room. In one fist she held her hair together. In the other the scissors crept toward her newly washed hair. She drew in her breathe as the sound of shearing loomed through her ears. Do it for Nebi. She pulled her fist up to her face and she looked into her fine hair. Again she cut more and more off. Finally she finished and placed the scissors back where they were found. She carefully tip-toed out of the house and toward the Nile. Hoping she would not be seen by anyone.
“I did it,” she said under her breath as she looked at her reflection in the Nile. There before here stood a beautiful boy. She starred at herself for awhile until she knew that she had to get back to the house and tell Omar her plan.
“Amisi?” a voice called. Her mother came into view and peered around searching for her daughter. “Where are you? Chores must be done!” She then turned behind a tree.
Amisi covered her head and ran into the house. All of a sudden she fell flat on the floor. What the?
She arose and saw Omar’s eyes grow wide.
“H-“ he started but Amisi managed to cover his mouth.
“Shh, Omar, it’s me, your sister!”
“What? Amisi? Is that really you?”
“Yes, come on, I need to tell you something,” She said pulling her brother up off the floor.
“…and you see. That’s why I must go!” Amisi ended her story as she looked at her brother’s expression.
“You…you can’t…first Nebi, now you, no! Please sister! Don’t leave!” he shouted, his cheeks flushed pink.
“Omar, please. I must.”
“NO! You can’t!” her brother argued back.
“Do, do you want to come, then, with me?” Amisi finally asked after silence had overtaken her bedroom.
“What about mother and father?”
“It’s up to you, you can either, keep mother and father, company, or you can join me. It’s your choice. I won’t make you choose.”
Gloomily Omar looked up at his sister. His eyes piercing hers. Ever since Nebi had left, Omar had taken great responsibility, fulfilling his brother’s wishes of tending the work he had left behind. His youthful eyes had been replaced with mature and stern ones.
“Fine, I will stay with mother and father.” He finally announced.
“I must go now.” Amisi said, standing up. “I’ll miss you Omar.” She hugged her younger brother.
“You will come back, won’t you? You have to promise me sister!”
“I promise, I will return.” She smiled down at him.
“Amisi, Omar!” Their mother called from the kitchen. “It’s time for dinner!”
“Oh no! I forgot! Mother can’t see me like this!” she let her hand slide though her new choppy hair. “I have to go, now.”
“Good bye.” Omar said sadly as he hugged his sister goodbye.
“I promise.” Amisi turned and scooted out a near by window. She left behind her brother who just stared as she disappeared from his sight. Slowly he turned and went to where his mother had called him.
“Where’s your sister?”
“I don’t know.”
“Go fetch her, please.” Eshe said as she set down a big bowl of fruit.
“I don’t know where she went. She’s…gone.”
“Gone. Amisi. She’s gone.” Omar said quietly as he sat down.
“Nkois!” Eshe squealed as she realized her son wasn’t fooling around. Her husband quickly came into the room, breathing hard.
“Amisi! She’s gone!” She covered her eyes with her hands, holding back tears.
“Where could she have gone?” he asked.
“Omar, doesn’t know. I don’t know.”
He turned toward his son. “Omar. Where is she? Tell us! Now! We need to know!”
“Tell your father now!” he demanded, his voice loud and clear.
“She. She followed. She, went to go find Nebi.”
“No! That’s not possible. She couldn’t have!” Eshe said stamping her foot. She quickly shook her head and sat down. “First Nebi, now Amisi…” she turned toward her son. “Promise you won’t leave us, Omar?”
He nodded getting up and hugging his mother. “She promised she would come back.” He smiled.
The sun slowly retreated behind the horizon, and once more the stars appeared, twinkling in the night sky. Omar walked outside, full, and sat down with his feet in the river. His thoughts were focused on his sibling’s journeys. Lazily, he turned over on his stomach and drifted off to sleep.
* * * *
Nebi looked up at the moon. Its texture clear, and Nebi swore he could see its craters. It gleamed down on him as he lay on his mat, trying to sleep. His mind racing. He groaned, turned over and yawned. His thoughts all about the extremely harsh labor he would have to endure the next morning. Finally his eyelids gracefully shut, forcing Nebi into a deep sleep.
The next morning came abruptly as the sun had just barely awoke. Nebi was aroused by Thabit whose face appeared directly in front of his. His vibrant light brown eyes penetrated Nebi’s half open ones.
“We have to go! Really soon!” Thabit said now getting up and taking one last good gulp of water and food.
Nebi forced himself onto his feet. His eyes adjusting to the darkness around him. He could make out Thabit’s figure scurrying around near him. After some time he could see others, doing the same.
“Come! Go! Now!” a man ordered. He ushered the boys from the boat group down a path meandering toward the construction. Nebi and the other boys followed, grudging along. The sun was up as they reached the site of the pyramids. Everyone’s ears rang with the noise of all the hammers hitting chisels. This struck the hard limestone. Thousands of men working every job there was to be occupied. As they passed a man sitting, Nebi got a closer look, and realized the man was sticking a piece of copper into a fire then quickly removing it. Then taking a rock he sharpened its tip before dipping it in water and handing it to man who handed it to the men working on the stone.
Nebi stared at the quarry that lay before him and the others. So many men were working hard, chiseling away at the tough material in front them. Then, Nebi and the others turned their heads and saw the mystifying pyramid. They gazed at it, they too would soon help with its construction. Quickly they were herded toward the quarry and were put to work immediately.
“What are you looking at, conscript?” a man said chopping away at a block. Nebi only ignored him and set off toward a group of men. A jug was tossed toward him and he was given orders on what to do with his new possession. Nebi was directed to a team of men struggling to haul a massive limestone block up the great ramp which led to the pyramid’s southwest corner. Another ramp camp from another direction which led from the pyramid to the Nile. Nebi realized he had work to do and set off at once. He joined another man who did the same as he. They poured their water right in front of the block’s wooden sled. Easily the block and its men made their way up the ramp. Without Nebi, and the other man the block would’ve had a difficult and slow trip to the pyramid.
The two and their group made many trips up and down the ramp and finally, the sun began to set. Nebi thankfully place his jug of water down and marched back to his mat. Thabit awaited him, drink in hand.
“Where were you sent?” he asked gulping.
“With a group who were pulling a giant limestone block. I was in charge of the water.”
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