Once upon a time people believed it was the beginning of time. And so it seemed. The world was fresh, the world was new. Trees were young and the grass was green and nothing seemed older than a hundred years old. No animals were extinct and the continents were stuck together like glue. And humanity roamed amongst it all, some of them cocooned in tall hosi, buildings of strong earth and others in grass shacks in the forest. History? No one had ever heard of a word like that. Around the fire at night, they told each other stories that were new. That they had witnessed within their lifetimes. That no one could ever consider myth, because they had been those stories, and knew themselves to have been within them. Stories that were only mildly embellished, stories of how they had taken their first staggering steps over a land as yet unbroken, stories of how they had found their logy, their work, stories of how they knew that they were the First of a glorious new civilization.
Arkaya listened to the stories with the same enthrallment as the rest of the youngsters of the second generation of the First, and felt the same thrill as everyone else that they were the First, that they were going to begin everything. During the day she wandered about as much land as her tiny feet would cover and wondered at the pristineness of everything. The whole world was theirs, because it had only just begun, and territory, yours, and mine, were more foreign words.
One day when she was wandering she came across a strangely shaped stick. It was elongated and at the end was a point that when she touched her finger upon left a grey mark upon her. Delighted at this new find, she took a leaf and scribbled all over it with the object. But after sometime, her mind started wondering where this had come from. It wasn’t from any tree she knew off, and chewing it thoughtfully, it wasn’t edible either. It was grey all over, a long stick of grey. It didn’t make marks like the remains of fire did, or like dirt did. She shrugged and ran back home to tell all her friends of her new toy.
They all clamored to see it, and to touch it, and then to scribble with it over leaves and bark and stone. And then the children found that if they wanted they could make shapes, shapes like the trees that surrounded them, shapes like their parents. They proudly showed their parents who professed they couldn’t tell the difference between life and the shapes. But the toy was Arkaya’s, and she jealously held onto it, and only let others use it occasionally for shapes and other things.
The next day all the children wanted a toy like Arkaya’s and followed her on her wanderings to where she had found the thing. There, they scrabbled in the dirt, and found many, many more of the grey sticks. They all took them home, delighted, and made many more shapes on things. But Arkaya still was curious of the source of them, and resolved to go back the next day to see if she could find a tree nearby- maybe it was a root? - that produced the objects. She went, and couldn’t find anything. But, while scrabbling on the ground, she hit stone- or so she thought it was. But the stone was harder than what she was used to, and a lot cooler. In the sun it shone brightly, and it seemed to Arkaya that in the stone was another one of her! A little warily, she rubbed the other Arkaya, and laughed when she found that there wasn’t a person there. Perhaps it was like how in water she could see another one of her- what was the word? A reflection. That’s what it was.
The day after that she recruited all her friends to help her uncover more of the strange stone root. And they did, and by the end of the day found that it wasn’t in the winding shape of roots but in straight lines, four straight lines connected to each other. At home that night, Arkaya didn’t listen to the stories around the fire, but just thought about what they had found and what it meant.
And Arkaya grew older but was just as curious about the strange stone as she was when younger. She had long since uncovered the entire stone, which was all brown, a brown that came off in specks of powder when they touched it. It was four walls, it seemed, like those of their hosi, and even had an opening that could have been a door. But when she questioned her parents, who were quite old and no longer able to do their logy, the work they had done their entire life, but no less enthusiastic about telling the stories of their first steps in the New World, they said that no one in the area could ever have built a hosi like that. No one had ever seen a stone like that. The world was not so new now. Living permanently in a shack or tall building was not feasible and instead people moved about with animals, looking for more to eat for them and their creatures.