Lucy: A Biography–Part XV

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 15:

Chapter 6–Part I

Blending in

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison

—Albert Einstein

It didn’t take long to realize she would never fit in, but in the end, what did it matter if she made friends? She was here for her child. She’d have happily melted into the background if not for Baad’s mate Falda. Sometime during that first night, while the group gathered to groom each other and murmur about the day’s excitement, Baad must have told his young pairmate the story of Eagle. From that point on, she stayed with Lucy. When Lucy couldn’t discourage her attention, she gave in and followed Falda’s waddling steps through the Group’s foraging areas to Snarling-dog’s dens and Eagle’s nests. In her soft voice, Falda taught Lucy about her new homeland—which savanna noises meant food and which danger, how to distinguish when Cat’s scratch marks in tree bark meant he might be waiting overhead to pounce or when he just sharpened his claws and went on his day’s business, and on and on.

One day, as they rested under a baobab, shadows deepening as Sun made its way to the horizon to rest, Lucy asked about Kelda’s reaction that first day. A light breeze rippled the air and carried the sweet scent of water from the near-by river. Falda stuffed a fistful of grubs found under a flat river rock into her mouth and chewed as she rubbed a raw spot on her arm.

“Kelda is always difficult unless fat with child.” Falda patted her stomach and scratched deeper, drawing a line of blood on her forearm. “This time, I bring a child to the group!”

As far as Lucy could tell, Kelda woke each day angry at everyone and went to sleep sure the day proved her anger righteous. She avoided Vorak’s mate whenever possible.

“Until you arrived, it was just me she made miserable. Now…” she pointed toward Lucy’s expanding girth, “she has you.”

Kelda’s whining had escalated one evening when Lucy showed up with the mangled carcass of Cat. Though gnawed by hyaena and stripped of most of the thick outer muscle and fat by raptors, the bone marrow provided a good meal for the group. For some reason Lucy couldn’t fathom, this made Kelda angrier than ever.

Kee, on the other hand, was like a warm rock slab on a cold day. Many evenings, as the group groomed each other, she joined Kee staring into the night sky. The elder, like Garv, watched Lights-that-cross-like-arms, always floating somewhere above the gray horizon line. She showed Lucy other star groups that wove through Night Sun’s homeland much like Cat traveled its domain. Some tilted more or less, some brightened and some disappeared to reappear later during Night Sun’s travels. As Cousin Chimp visited fruit trees exactly when they bore food, Kee claimed there were relationships between these changes and when animals were born, bushes berried, and trees fruited. Garv, too, had made these connections.

To Raza and Kelda and everyone else in the band, this friendship was odd. To Lucy, it felt as comfortable as knowing her feet walked and her hands carried.

Night Sun waxed and waned over and over as Lucy foraged and cracked nuts and watched the children of the Group. She did as females must, but what she wanted was to hunt. Food from the earth stopped Lucy’s stomach from growling only until more could be found, but food from animals gave her time between meals to knap tools and show children how to track. The males hunted well, but not as well as Lucy, and the hominids were always just a bit hungry.

She tried to explain this to Falda one day, but Kelda overheard.

“You endanger a child of the Group!” Kelda’s face twitched as she bobbed from one foot to another, jabbing at Lucy’s stomach and crowding forward with each frantic bounce. Her eyes slitted and spittle spewed from her mouth. “Males hunt. You are here for breeding! Why does Raza keep you?”

She brandished a leafy limb dangerously close to Lucy before pivoting and clomping off. Falda leaped to her feet and chased after Kelda while Lucy sat frozen, until the only sound was the shrill chatter of a squirrel defending its meal and the tinny notes of a water bird hunting fish.

“Is that true? Is this why Raza brought me here?”

“He brought you because we need you.”

Lucy jerked and silently chastised herself. She’d missed Ma-g’n’s approach.

“Look around you, Lucy. If every member of the Group stood together, they would just fill the shade under Lone Baobab. We have too few females to provide mates to our males or children for our future. Kelda is wrong. You are cherished by this group.”

Ma-g’n dropped into silence, and Lucy had no idea what she should say, so she too sat wordlessly. A chorus of birds called in the trees and the hum of insects laced the air. A snake slithered past her feet, it scales gleaming an iridescent green in the sunlight as it whisked itself to the safety of thicker vegetation. A dragonfly slapped into Ma-g’n’s shoulder and darted past a spiral of flesh hanging from the side of his head.

Why hadn’t she noticed that before? It couldn’t be missed, hanging in shreds from his ear like pond stems gone to decay. He carried his damage with a quiet confidence. She carried hers where none could see and still trembled with fear that her secret would come out.

Something inside of her broke loose. She started talking and couldn’t stop, telling him about her life back home, how the males had been killed by her carelessness and more died when her hunting efforts failed. She told him of Garv, how they scavenged together and were to be mated. How life had seemed so full and rich once, but now, she couldn’t get rid of the ache in her chest and tightness in her throat every time Garv’s memory, or smell, or image entered her head.

“Is he who makes you full with Baby?”

Lucy clamped her lips into a tight line, too shaken to speak. How could he know?  Ma-g’n continued. “Raza cares for the group, but he suffers, as you do, for someone long gone. You must be more than Raza’s mate. You must be his strength.”

“He is so sure…”

“As are you, Lucy. Look what you have done. I am in awe of you.”

Despite his words, Lucy saw a deep-seated anguish in Ma-g’n’s eyes. When he was ready, he would share its reason. She, too, kept secrets.

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Part XVI next week…

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for Examiner.comEditorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing TeachersIMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write AnythingCurrently, 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.

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