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Flash Fiction: Bayarl's Yiirk

This story was written a day late to be included in my Muse Fusion total; it is another tale of Torn World. One of the prompters wanted to see a story of a pet yiirk--yiirk are kind of a cross between ferrets and rats, and quite a pest for the northerners.

If you want to see a longer Torn World story, Kasiikar’s New Hunting Ground has been partially funded; $15 will get me to post it here, so you can read it even before Torn World's Canon Board.

Bayarl's Yiirk

Alainya normally liked white, but she was tired of knitting for the babies. And she was tired of working with the undyed yarns normally given to beginners. And given the time of the year, not-quite-white was definitely not the color she wanted to knit with. Dirty white was the color of spring snow, and brown the color of mud. And she’d had more than enough of both.

She wanted to make something colorful for a change. And she wanted to do it on her own.

She talked Laisesu out of a few balls of yarn that had dyed poorly, an irregular pale blue with stretches of white, and started knitting a square. If she hated it, it could go to the babies anyway.

But she didn’t hate it. It looked like clouds in a summer sky, and an occasional irregular stitch actually helped that illusion. Which helped her to relax and actually enjoy making it. For once, everyone was healthy, and Kalitelm had shooed the raisers out to get some sun; Alainya was hoping the healer, who did some fancy knitting, would notice her project, but so far Kalitelm had been focusing on the babies.

Instead of the square she’d planned, she made it longer, imagining a scarf. But then she was working on her bunk, and thought how nice a blanket would be. Did she have enough? She had one whole ball and the partial ball she was knitting from. But Laisesu had more of the blue, she’d seen it. Maybe she could trade something for it?

Bayarl came walking over from the other side of the house. He was moving slowly, but every time Kalitelm’s eyes were turned, he was looking under other people’s bunks. Alainya shook her head. That boy was always up to something. She kept knitting, trying to keep her eyes on Bayarl, though she hadn’t really mastered the technique of knitting just by feel yet. The yarn started to pull oddly.

Bayarl drew near. “Whatcha doing?”

“Knitting. What are you doing?” The tension on the yarn was suddenly too tight, and Alainya looked to see what the ball had caught on. Somehow, it had rolled under the bunk.

“Stretching my legs.” He leaned back, then appeared to notice her yarn problem. “Let me help you.” He fell to his hands and knees and reached under her bunk, just as the tension totally released and she ended up with a very frayed end of yarn dangling visibly by her foot.

“What are you doing?” she hissed. That ball had been nowhere near used up. She set the knitting aside and leaned over to look under the bunk, just in time to see Bayarl stuffing a young yiirk into the neck of his shirt.

Then he picked up the rest of the ball of yarn and offered it to her. “Here you go!”

“Bayarl, you can’t keep that—”

“Hush!” He looked around, then leaned toward her. “He’s my pet! His name is Lere.”

“Well, at least the name is appropriate. But you can’t keep him, people will have fits. Do you know how much those things eat?”

“Better than you! I’ve been keeping him fed all winter.”

Alainya couldn’t help but be impressed if he’d kept the critter a secret from the raisers all winter. Still, the little predators were creepy. “Well, not any more. As soon as I tell—”

“No. You can’t. I mean—please. What can I do to convince you?”

“After that—that thing chewed through my yarn?” Alainya was ready to say nothing in the world would convince her to let him keep that filthy thing in her house, but her eyes fell on the length she’d knitted. Laisessu was unlikely to just give her any more yarn, even if the dye job had come out all wrong. She’d want something in return, and Laisessu’s odd jobs were usually smelly, time-consuming, or both.

“I’ll do anything!”

“It’s a dirty little—“

“It is not! I keep it clean. Really. What can I do to convince you?”

Kalitelm walked by. “Is everything all right, Alainya?”

“We’re fine.” Bayarl spoke up. “I was admiring her knitting. It looks like the sky, doesn’t it?”

Kalitelm leaned over to look. “It sure does! You know, that would look pretty with butterflies on it.”

“Butterflies? How could I do that?” Alainya imagined a blanket full of butterflies.

“I’ll show you. Tomorrow? After morning lessons?”

Alainya nodded eagerly. “I’d like that.”

Kalitelm gave Bayarl another curious look, but one of the younger children started yelling, and she headed off.

“Thank you.” Bayarl smiled at Alainya.

“I still could tell. Unless…”

“Yes? Anything.” He smiled.

“I want the rest of this yarn from Laisesu.”

“From—you’ve got to be kidding.”

“If you bring it to me, soon, I won’t tell about—Lere.”

“But—Laisesu!” He was practically whining, and Alainya remembered that the dyer was still angry with him for dropping ash into the wrong vat of dye last fall. She almost relented, but there was nothing else she wanted as much as the yarn. And a yiirk—Bayarl deserved to suffer for keeping a yiirk in the house all winter.

She shrugged. “If you’d rather, I can call Kalitelm back here right now.”

“No—no. I’ll manage. But you’ve got to give me a few days.”

Alainya showed him the remaining ball and a half of yarn. “You have until I run out.”

He walked away, shoulders slumped, but Alainya started to hum. Bayarl was resourceful. She went back to imagining her new blanket—with butterflies. And maybe Kalitelm could show her how to put a band of others traveling across the sky, too. She didn’t ever want to see one up close, but they were sure pretty from far away.

But even if it turned out to be easy, she wasn’t gong to sew any yiirk onto her blanket! She tied the yarn together where the ugly critter had gnawed it through, and resumed knitting.

Copyright 2010 Deirdre M.  Murphy

I hope you'll let me know what you think!


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 20th, 2010 04:27 am (UTC)
I would love to know how the butterflies turn out. And I want to know if Alainya ends up getting more of that yarn.

I'm having a hard time picturing what the yiirk looks like, perhaps adding something where Bayarl stuffs it in his shirt? something about stuffing the ?long arms? ?segmented (colour)tail? or ?hairy/scaly/feathered? body in his shirt?

I enjoy how you build your characters and how you bring their personalities out in a bit of the story at a time.
Mar. 20th, 2010 04:37 am (UTC)
Yiirk look a lot like miniature ferrets. But perhaps I should add a bit of description inside the story!

The rose butterfly is Torn World canon! You can read the article at tornworld.net under "Background".

And I have more fiction and poetry there, stuff that's never appeared in LJ. :-D

And thank you for your compliment.

Mar. 20th, 2010 07:22 am (UTC)
Ah, I think my eyeballs weren't all working. I missed that part at the top all in pretty blue that mentioned this was a Torn World and actually described the Yiirks. :) Sorry!!!

I'll have to check out more of the Torn World stuff some time.

And you're welcome :)
Mar. 20th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
That's OK, it's a good thing to put a description of the critter into the story, even though Alainya knows what they look like and is about as interested in looking at them as many girls are in looking at rats.

We have other talented Torn World writers too!
Mar. 21st, 2010 05:35 am (UTC)
I know, I need to get over and read more Torn World. I am a little afraid, I know there are going to be some really good ones there and I'm afraid I'll get adicted to them and then end up wanting to read more but not having time and feeling guilty. So for right now, I'm holding off. Come winter I hope to be able to sequester myself on the couch with the computer & tea and be able to read more at my leisure.

And I'm about to start my idea of a book for Blurb's Photo Book Contest I posted about. I had an idea last night and spent today searching for content. I have some but I think sadly most of it is film, not digital. Which means I have to dig through boxes, look through packs of pictures and then wait for Carol to lie down and rest (usually on a weekend) to be able to scan them, then tweak the colours so they are correct. A lot of work? Yeah, possibly but I want to get more of my print photos scanned anyway and that is a good excuse to do it. :)
Mar. 20th, 2010 09:21 am (UTC)
It may be Bayarl's Yiirk, but it seems to be Alainya's story. 'Twas the muse fusion for adorable stories involving wool. :)

They seem older than the last time we met them.
Mar. 20th, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC)
Bayarl always was older than Alainya--he's in the next age-set up. I think she's much more self-assured talking with another kid -- especially just one kid, and one who's in the wrong--than talking with an adult, much less a whole bunch of adults.
Mar. 21st, 2010 06:53 am (UTC)
It's more that given how shy she is in Beads and Memories, she's impressively assertive here, and with someone noted for teasing her. But as you say, she's interacting with just one other kid, not being watched by a half the village.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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