Finally after ten years, I am close to publishing the heart-rending and fast-paced biography of Lucy. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, this is the paleo-historic saga of our earliest ancestors as lived through the eyes of a female Homo habilis.
Since Donald Johanson uncovered the tiny three-and-a-half foot clawless, flat-toothed Australopithecine, we have asked, Who is she? And how could she survive in a world of mammoth predators and unrelenting natural disasters she had no understanding about? This book answers those questions as well as more fundamental ones like, Where did God come from? Why did man create his first tool? How did culture start?
Here’s a summary:
Lucy: A Biography follows three species of early man (Australopithecus, Homo habilis and Homo erectus), as they fight for the limited resources of Pleistocene Africa. Lucy, of the species habilis, blames herself for the death of her family and agrees to mate with a stranger (Raza). As they journey to Raza’s homebase, they are tracked by two deadly predators: Xha, of the smarter and more powerful species Homo erectus, and the violent and unforgiving Nature, a sentient being who meddles with fate and Lucy’s future as though it were a chemistry experiment. The story is carefully researched to shared the geography, climate, and biosphere that would have been Lucy’s world 1.8 million years ago, when man was not King and nature ruled with a violence and dispassion we call ‘disaster’ today.
Every week, I’ll post part of this story.
A note: While I took Lucy’s name from the infamous Australopithecine skeleton discovered by Donald Johanson, Lucy is a Homo habilis. Her adopted child Boa is an Australopithecine.
Here’s Part 26:
Chapter 11–Part 2
Males and Females
“Lucy,” Falda called. “Tell Gleb and Ahnda not to rough-and-tumble. They are too serious. They will listen to you.”
As she spoke, she picked at a sore spot on her stomach, balding from the constant scratching. She prattled on, about how glad she was Lucy would talk with the boys and how Baad would if he weren’t so busy. Lucy stopped listening, knowing she could pick the conversation up later and not miss anything. She had never seen a female so happy to be filled with a baby.
From this position midway between Lake-by-homebase and the work area, Falda could supervise the youngsters and still gossip. With the excitement of the hunters’ return over, every child splashed and bounced in the water—except Gleb and Ahnda. They, as usual, challenged each other in some game of skill.
Falda finally fell silent, but her gaze skittered from Lucy to Kelda. Anger flashed from Kelda’s eyes. She swapped her chopper for a larger cleaver and slammed it into a rounded hipbone joint. The sturdy bone cracked, but held its shape. Kelda crashed the anvil down again, widening the crack but the tough bone held. This time, she slammed the cleaver over and over, grunting as she worked, until the joint splattered open, exposing the marrow-filled cavity.
Falda jumped, and then picked harder at her stomach, this time drawing blood. Lucy turned toward the boys, eager to avoid a confrontation with Kelda.
“Ahnda. Watch me,” Gleb challenged.
Despite Gleb’s youth, he’d already reached Ma-g’n’s height and had made his first kill—an ostrich. The surprise hunt had eradicated any hopes his Primary Male Brum had of keeping the boy young until he grew into his body. Now, Gleb approached every adult skill with a stoic seriousness few could match.
This move, bouncing a pebble across water, he had perfected, until the bend of his wrist was precise and the power behind the throw perfect. He side-handed a pond stone—using his weak hand as his Primary-Male did—and it landed with a thunk onto a flat hammerstone floating off shore. Here it stopped dead, exactly as he planned.
“I can beat that.” Ahnda moved the distance of his shadow from Gleb’s position, focused, and pitched the stone. It skipped off the hammerstone and plopped into the pond. Ahnda tensed.
Gleb chided, “Yours is lost. Mine can be retrieved. What’s ‘better’ about sunk?” and set up for another throw. “This will land next to my first.”
Gleb bent his knees, flicked his wrist and let go.
“Ahnda. Gleb. Come. I will tell you of the hunt-for-scavenge-from-Cat.”
Ahnda ignored Lucy and watched Gleb’s stone fly over the water and drop onto the hammerstone with a hollow clunk, a finger’s width from his first stone. Lucy rose to try her hand—she, too, had played this game as a child—but Kelda’s screech halted her.
“Lucy! You have no right!” Kelda jerked her arm movements to encompass the surrounding Group. Her hands curled against her childless stomach in frustration as she fought to control her emotions. “You stink of danger! You, with child-of-the-group in your body!”
Kelda’s eyes narrowed to a dark slit and she shook with fury. “I would never endanger a child-of-the-group by hunting!”
Lucy froze. Kelda was right. When she hunted, she disregarded the danger of Eagle-with-piercing-talons and Snarling-dog. Like shrew-who-stole-scavenge-from-Cat, she never considered the consequences. Feeding the group calmed her, like the pain-bark did for Ma-g’n. She tried to stutter an answer, but Kelda leaned forward, knuckles white, her body shaking like humming-bird wings. Lucy could smell the stench of a rotting tooth in her mouth.
Falda mumbled something, lost her idea and ended up scratching at her elbow.
“Lucy is safe. Leave her, Kelda.” Kee’s voice was soft, but unwavering.
Kee interrupted Lucy. “She returns.”
Kelda huffed, opened her mouth and then slammed it shut. The finality in Kee’s tone ended further discussion. Kelda’s eyes clouded over, dark with words she couldn’t speak, and then she spit a thick wet glop of sputum onto Lucy’s cheek, and returned to her work.
Lucy cringed. “She will not let this go. She will stop me from becoming Primary-Female to my child.” Lucy wiped her face and curled her body against Kee.
“Rain comes. Do you see the clouds?”
Lucy tried to see what Kee saw in the towering mounds of gray fluff, but all she saw was the azure sky, like so many other days in this rain-starved land.
Falda scuttled up against Lucy and began grooming, gentle fingers picked through Lucy’s dirt-encrusted hair-fur, expertly removing brambles and seeds, buried dirt and insects, smoothing out the shafts and rubbing them until they shone.
“Kee…” Lucy’s voice dwindled. Despite her keen excitement about the hunt’s success, her chest felt heavy, constricted. Tears slid down her face as she pressed her face to Kee’s furred shoulder. “Tell me about the child.”
Lucy moved her hands from her belly to Kee’s head. She needed Kee’s guidance. In the forests, the young of her clan clung to their Primary-Female’s chest like Cousin Chimp’s babies, leaving the female’s hands free to navigate the jungle. Here, the Primary-Female carried the child on her hip, one arm securing the infant while the other tried to perform the work of both.
“You will learn. Now, we bring food.”
Part XXVII next week…
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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum and two tech-ed lesson plan collections for K-sixth, creator of two technology training books for middle school, and six ebooks on technology in education for K-8. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for six blogs, anAmazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.