Return to Turtle Cove (Original)


Chapter One

(Original Draft)

The waves tonight were furious.  They echoed Kibbe’s heart.  Whipping the rocks. 

Kibbe wept, and hated himself for his weakness.  He was glad to finally be alone, yet his frustration caused tears to roll down the fine hairs on his cheeks.  The fact that he was the only boy his age without a beard humiliated him even more.

Why is it that I am this way? Kibbe thought.  Why do I have no one on my side?  Why is the entire tribe against me?

Kibbe sat on his rock in the darkness.  He had been coming here since he was very young.  First, with his brother, then later alone.  That was after his brother left.  After he had been banished.  This rock, Kibbe once believed, was carved by the gods just for him.  It was an ancient stone created by a volcano, and when Kibbe was a boy, he found that he could sit in it almost like a chair.  It was just his size.  Even as he grew, and he was smaller than all the other boys his age, the chair seemed to fit him.  And even though it was made of stone, hard cold rock, Kibbe was always comfortable when he sat there.

Many long days he would spend in his rock-chair.  He would watch the waves roll in, counting them.  Waiting for the very big ones.  Sometimes, during high tide, the big waves might even splash up as far as his rock-chair.  This delighted Kibbe, even as he grew older.  His spot was not at the top of the mound, but about three-quarters of the way up.  The ground turned to dirt above him, where the weeds grew.  He knew that no one could see him when he was in his chair.  The cove was a five-minute walk to his left, and that was where the beach was.  Turtle Beach.  Beyond by about another ten minutes, over the stream and into the woods, was the village. 

Kibbe never understood why, but he knew that his spot was a special place.  He could come here to be alone.  Here he could think.  Without the pressures of his chores or the Elders bossing him around.  His special spot.  Where he counted the waves.  Twenty four.  It was usually the  twenty fourth wave that was bigger than the others.  Maybe he had just made that up, or maybe it was wishful for him to think that there was some special rhythm in the waves.

He also watched the pools of water swirling with crabs and other sea-life as the tides withdrew.  He loved this place, with the faint salty stink of seaweed and kelp, the roar of the ocean, the always present breeze.  Even during the rainy season, he would come here to get away from the village and think about his life.  What adventure his father was having, where his brother might be.  Sometimes he even thought about his mother.

Kibbe had no memories his mother.  She died when he was very little.  When he thought about her, which wasn’t often, because of all things in life he had wanted and never had a loving mother was above all, he usually cried.  And to cry was worse than anything.  He had to be a man.  And that meant to be strong.  His brother never cried.  Not even when they whipped him.  Not even when he was banished from the village and Turtle Cove forever.  No.  Not Jeth.  Never!

And so here Kibbe was, in the cold of night, in his safe spot, finding no comfort.  No solitude.  For like his brother before him, he was facing the Elder Council tomorrow.  He was facing banishment.  Banishment for what crime, he thought.  Banishment for being born! Why? For being different?  For having lighter skin than them?  They hate me.  Why do they hate me?

Not that he loved the village.  He in fact despised the whole place and every person in it.  Except Benno.  His only friend Benno.  But he would have to leave behind everything he ever knew.  The only home he ever had, and face the wilderness alone.  Terror ran through him; he felt as if a thousand deer were thundering through his chest.

As if reading his thoughts, thunder broke over the ocean. 

Kibbe wanted to run away, leave forever.  He wished he could bring Benno with him, at least.  Benno had been the only boy who had ever been kind to him.  The others mocked him, taunted him and beat on him.  But Benno stood up for Kibbe.  Helped Kibbe to stand up for himself. 

Even Benno would be ashamed of me tonight.

Kibbe could not stop crying.  It was as if something in his soul was stabbed with a knife, and it would not stop bleeding.  Tears are the blood of the injured soul.  Kibbe rocked back and forth, the salty breeze smelling foul to him now.  He couldn’t even see the waves, the water.  There was no moon, and the thick clouds had blanketed the stars, keeping from him even any small glimmering sheen as the waves rolled in.  He knew there was a storm coming.  He could feel it in the way the breeze felt, the sound of the waves against the rocks.  He didn’t care.  It could wash him away.  Whatever the gods wanted.  His despair seemed so total that nothing that happened to him tonight mattered. 

It began to rain.  And it rained very hard.

Within minutes Kibbe was completely drenched.  But the tears did not stop.  They merely mingled with the rain and the sea spray.  And Kibbe just sat on his rock and swayed with the wind, with the sea. Sobbing.  Unrelentlessly as the waves and the wind and the biting cold. 

Kibbe didn’t notice when he first began to shiver.  His thoughts were not there on the rocks by the open ocean.  He was going over the events that led up to the accusation.  And the laying of the staff.  The symbolic gesture that one had angered the Elders, gone against the tribe, or endangered the village. 

Kibbe stared in shock as Elder Varu, chief of the Tribe of the Turtle, angrily cast the staff at Kibbe’s feet.  So violently was the so called “laying” of the staff that it stung Kibbe’s shin after it bounced off the ground.

“Kibbe, son of Keldon the Outlander, banished for betraying the Tribe.  Your brother Jeth, also banished,” Elder Varu began. “You have outraged our gods and cast aside our sacred laws.”

Kibbe thought he could literally feel heat radiating from the Elder, like he was on fire. 

“The diseased blood of your wretched family flows through you.” The enraged Elder’s words bit into Kibbe, as if they were hot brands. “You should have been ejected from our village along with your loathsome brother.”

What could he possibly have done that would warrant the staff?  He had been trying to be so good lately.  He hadn’t run off to the Cove or his spot all week.  At least not to avoid chores.  He only went to the Cove at night to watch the turtles.  He had not only done all of his own chores, but he had even volunteered to watch Old man Madal’s sheep for a while, so Madal could re-thatch a portion of his roof that had blown off during last week’s storm.  The storm season was rough on the village’s homes.

No, Kibbe was certain that he had done nothing to raise the ire of the Elder.

The Elder continued. “You have never been part of this tribe, and your recent actions further convince me that your tribal status should be examined!”

Varu’s sloping bald head gleamed with sweat, which ran down his fat brown nose as he chastised Kibbe.  Kibbe hadn’t been afraid of Elder Varu. Before. Varu was full of steam, and had held some unknown grudge against Kibbe for as long as Kibbe could remember.  To Kibbe Varu was just a fat angry man, probably bitter about life for never taking wife or producing children.  The next Elder Chief would be chosen by council, and it probably shamed Varu that he never bore any sons to replace him in his waning years...

Elder Varu clapped Kibbe on the side of his head with open palm.  Kibbe’s attention had wandered off again.  The blow seemed searing, and the ringing in Kibbe’s ear combined with the pain from the slap jolted him back to the present.

“...and you will pay me attention, I am the Chief of this Tribe and your inattention and disrespect will not go without  notice and consequence!” 

“Then you tell me, your most high and important cheif-ness,” Kibbe spat back, “what crime is it that you have made me up to have done?’

The entire gathering gasped, almost as one.  Nearly the entire village was now present, and Kibbe realized that his fool mouth had just made whatever trouble he had been in much worse.  But before he could speak again, another elder, Elder Lors maybe, Kibbe thought, shoved a staff into Kibbe’s lower back, sending him to his knees.

Kibbe heard an outcry from the villagers.  He was not sure whether they were in protest against him being stricken from behind or if they were simply against him... Another blow landing on his shoulder swayed his thoughts in the direction of ‘against him’, and then Kibbe went full to the earth as he was pummeled with more blows and kicks.  Kibbe reeled from a bolt of white light in his head.  Probably a crack from an Elder’s staff.  The yelling roared in his ears, his chest felt on fire.  And that was when the tears started.  Shit, he didn’t even know what it was that he had done to deserve this.  Spouting off was one of his talents, yet it never before had come to blows. 

As quickly as it began, it ended.  Elder Varu had called off the beating mob and admonished them.  Not quite enough or with very much sincerity in Kibbe’s opinion.  Kibbe was being hoisted up by the arms, every move causing a burst of pain.  Tears now flowed down Kibbe’s face, but these were nothing compared to what he would experience later that day.

Kibbe remained standing among the quieted crowd, his head down turned in shame.  Not for speaking out, or whatever their concocted crime was.  No.  He was ashamed because he allowed them to get to him, and he allowed himself to cry.  And cry in front of the entire village. 

At that moment, it was as if an avalanche of emotions rushed him.  He wanted more than anything in the world to save face and stop crying, but as his shame enveloped him, the tears came faster, and he felt a great emptiness in his heart, and he began to tremble.  He barely heard the accusations of Elder Varu as panic seemed to explode from within.  His chest was heaving.  Pounding.  Pounding.  Hot. He heard something about the Turtles.  His knees buckled again as he uselessly fought back the shame and the sobs.  He had never before felt such horror.  He wanted it to stop.  He wanted to run but his body would do nothing but shake.  He was trying to be a man.  He failed.  “Do you hear me boy”  Bile came to his mouth.  “...sacred animal...”  His insides were rushing up his throat.  He vomited.  He could not stop the crying.  Or the shaking. 

He finally understood that he was running.  It was dark now, and he was past the stream, running toward the Cove.  The sacred Cove.  With the sacred Turtles... 

Finally he was calming.  Kibbe stopped to get his bearings.  His whole body ached.  His arms and legs from running.  His gut and chest from heaving and vomiting.  His head and back from the blows.  He could hear the crowd yelling behind him in the village, but he dared not look back.  The sounds of the ocean, that usually brought him comfort, sounded hollow and distant.  Tears still flowed unbidden from his eyes, and he knew that he never wanted to go back to the village again.  He couldn’t face the shame.  He hated them, all of them.  Except Benno.  He remembered hearing Benno shouting for them to leave him alone.  Good old Benno. 

“I h-h-hope they d-don’t take it out on B-Benno” Kibbe said to himself, sobbing.  “T-that wouldn’t b-be fair.”

“But I am n-never going back” Kibbe swore out loud, as if saying the words would make it so.  “Never.”

But he knew even then that he would go back.  He knew he had to face the council.  The laying of the staff.  Damn, he hated them all.