There is no more graceless being than a teenage boy coming into his age.
— Nagufiga Makinàfu, Sexuality Among the Sands
There were a few descriptions for those willing to brave the midday sun in the Shimusogo Valley but most of them were uncomplimentary and rude. Smarter adults escaped the hot winds blowing along the valley by retreating into the home caves carved into the sides of the mountains, the deep chambers that made up bedrooms were the perfect time to pass away the time in private. The children and younger teens spent the noon hours in the shadow of the entrance to the valley or in the lookout point above.
Normally, Desòchu would pass the hours playing card games and chatting with the teenagers closer to his age. There were four of them in the small clan. They claimed one of the smaller, unoccupied caves near the valley entrance as their stomping ground. The adults allowed it, as long as the teenagers didn’t get into trouble, no one got pregnant, and they did their chores when required.
He wasn’t in the mood to be around anyone. Heading home wasn’t an option either since his mother was stuck in bed because of complications with her pregnancy.
She had been pregnant at least four times that he could remember. Each time she raised her hopes on a flag: talking about children names, asking him how he would take care of his new siblings, and pestering Desòchu’s father with the same repeated questions.
He scowled to himself. All of her pregnancies had also ended the same way, with her stuck in bed until one night his grandmother took him away without warning. When he returned home, she was no longer pregnant, happy, or talking. Each loss drew more out of his mother, hollowing her out even as she talked about “next time.”
With a sigh, he grabbed a rubber ball from his pocket and stretched back over one of the communal tables that the clan used for eating. He flicked the ball from one side to the other.
A hot wind blew past him, sucking the moisture from his lips and nose. If it wasn’t for the canvas tarp stretched over the table, he would be baking in the oppressive heat of the noon sun.
He rolled ball back, catching it with his fingertips.
A rushing noise caught the edge of his hearing. He felt the air rising up and then a brief tickle of currents going in the opposite direction from the previous winds. Reflexively, he closed his eyes before the wind rose into a blast that shoved his entire body.
When the air cooled and the wind stopped tugging him toward the edge of the bench, he opened his eyes. When he saw his ball rolling toward the edge, he lurched forward to grab it.
“Why aren’t you inside?” asked Kiramíro.
His heart beat faster at the sound of her voice.
Kiramíro had arrived only a few months ago, a seventeen year old stranger with a full gamut of powers on par with the rest of the other clan warriors. Where most of the couriers could run thirty or forty miles an hour with bare feet, she and the other warriors were able to go ten times that speed not to mention throw rocks with brutal force or somehow rapidly accelerated in a blink.
He found her curiously attractive. He knew everyone else in the clan for his entire life. Fourteen years of seeing the same muscular legs, slender bodies, and small breasts. Kiríshi’s more pronounced curves drew his attention, sometimes to the ire of other adults. He wasn’t the only one though, many other males would follow her with their eyes or make comments behind her back.
Moving slowly in hopes of hiding his interest, he turned his head until his cheek pressed against the hot wood. He dragged his eye along her body, taking in the sight of her muscular thighs and abdomen before focusing on her breasts.
Looking at her brought a strange sensation to his groin. He squirmed uncomfortably but didn’t take his eyes away from her dark cleavage.
Kiramíro cleared her throat.
Desòchu blushed and tried to draw his gaze up to her eyes but his eyes remained focused on her chest. Her skin was the color of niráchu nuts, darker than his own coloring but with lighter highlights in the sun. Part of him wondered if he would ever see more of her.
Her body ignited into flames. The heat beat against his face as the bright yellow fire traced along her curves. It didn’t burn her clothes or skin but caused the fabric to ripple from the rising heat. She leaned forward and cleared her throat.
Fear prickled his skin and he yanked his gaze away from her breasts and up to her glare.
Kiramíro’s lips pressed into a tight line.
He blushed hotly. He knew he should haven’t been staring but it was hard not to. “S-Sorry.”
She grunted but the glare didn’t fade. She crossed her arms over her chest and she worked her jaw.
Humiliated, he looked down at the table.
“Why aren’t you up with your mama? It’s hot out and she could use the company.”
Still blushing, he rolled the ball to his other hand but missed. He started to grab for it before it fell off the table but Kiramíro’s presence halted him and the toy bounced across the hard-packed ground toward the cooking shed.
Kiramíro leaned over the table and the heat beat against him. She planted her palms against the wood. “Your mama hasn’t left your cave since I showed up. Your papa keeps going out on jobs and won’t be back for a few more days. There is no one else at home. Go visit her. She’s scared, she’s tired, and she’s lonely.”
Kiramíro gestured angrily to the side of the valley where “What do you think is happening in there? Do you think she wants to spend every day and night unable to move from her bed? Do you think it is fun to have to use a pot to shit in? Do you think she’s comfortable with a child, your brother or sister, in her belly?”
The flames around her body flared with her raised voice. The white and yellow reaching almost to the canvas above them.
Desòchu inched further away. “Look, I’ll go after—”
She smacked the table and the surface ignited into flames. “Boy! Get your ass home or I will break your moon-damned legs and make you crawl!”
With a gasp, Desòchu scrambled from the bench. His leg caught on the bench and he tripped. By the time he could stand up again, Kiramíro was gone in drifting clouds of dust.
He considered ignoring her but he couldn’t be sure she wouldn’t notice. His punishment would be far worse than if he just obeyed and visited his mother.
Scowling, he shoved his hands into his trouser pockets and started to shuffle his way back home.