What does a fifteen-year-old do when in the midst of a civil war? Write a science-fiction gig, of course!
Huddled around a charcoal fire, my knitting mother and I were roasting chestnuts while, high above our heads, bombs and bullets flew like confetti in a carnival, except, there was no carnival and the confetti came in black, grey and bronze only.
That's when I put pen to paper and wrote the first version of the Epic of Ahiram–as a science fiction gig. See, there was this confederation of ten planets and this princess who...
"Hold it," said Mr. Spock materializing on the chair to my right. He grabbed a chestnut and looked me in the eye as if he was about to scold Captain Kirk.
"He never scolds me," said Kirk, materializing on the chair to my left, "but you, that's a different story. I'd listen to what he has to say." He grabbed a chestnut.
"You cannot say that a science-fiction gig is the first version of a high-fantasy epic. That's not logical."
"He's right," said Kirk.
"Well," I shot back, "that chestnut you're eating now is the first version, the first gig if you will, of an oak tree, is it not? The two are very different but one is the version of another. You roast a chestnut and you sit on an oak."
"Sitting on a chestnut and roasting an oak would be painful," concurred Kirk.
"You rest under an oak and you carry a chestnut," I added.
"Carrying an oak and resting under a chestnut would be equally painful," added Kirk.
"What are you two talking about?" cut Spock, "None of it makes sense."
Kirk and I looked at each other, "Oh, but it does, Spock, it sure does."
"Anyway," said Kirk standing, "a Klingon ship has landed in your backyard, Kid, and the Klingons don't understand why Abou Samir, your neighbor, does not speak English. They are itching to start a new intergalactic war but cannot do so unless they can hurl insults in English and get some back. Abou Samir is not cooperating and it's frustrating them. We had better take care of the situation. Say Spock, do you think Klingons like roasted chestnuts?"
"What are you doing?" asked my mother, eyeing me the way a veterinarian eyes an albino platypus (is that even possible? Never mind...)
I was standing on my chair, holding three half-eaten chestnuts the way the Statue of Liberty holds the flame of liberty. "Solving a math problem: if George the Klingon has seven chestnuts and he gives Elsa the Klingonette four, how many would he be left with? Three. See Mom, three."
Thankfully, the ballad of bombs and bullets consigned the memory of this incident to the dustbins of forgotten civil wars and took with it my science-fiction gig. The story of Ahiram was not yet ready for prime time, but, as a consolation prize, I can tell you that, somewhere, out there, in the vast expanse of the inter-galactic space, two roasted chestnuts have gone where no chestnuts (or oak tree) have gone before.
Roast chestnuts and prosper.