Tuesday, February 22, 2011

first draft of "THE MEMORY KEEPER"

Before she had reached puberty she had been picked to learn the history of all the generations before her by the old mother. She could now tell the precise moment when her people should pack up and move on to warmer land. She could smell it in the air and see it in the fast movement of the birds as they flew south.

If she was wrong then the entire tribe would suffer from what could be a disastrous move. She stood watching the faint light coming up over the horizon the black shawl pulled tightly over her shoulders. Mondoani watched her breath in the early morning haze, the cold was coming. She believed they had been here too long. Yet it was important to complete the week long mourning ceremonies for the old woman. To dishonor her memory and life would have lead to further disaster by the Universe. Now the burden of the tribe’s future was her responsibility, she was the new “Memory Keeper,” it was up to her to direct the tribe.

If she chose wrong then they could run into terrible snow storms, beasts of the night that prowled on edges of the winter barren land. They could lose the young and the old in the process. If they left too early they might lose the last hunt that could make their survival on the trip easier.

The tribe wasn’t big enough to survive losing too many. They couldn’t afford to lose those women heavy with babies or the young who would learn, to fight, to hunt and finally to grow the tribe. Each life was dear to the tribe and it was her responsibility to keep them safe. Mondoani found joy in her ability to teach the next generations and to tell the stories of their past at the celebrations.

It was a heavy burden yet she had been trained well by the old mother. She stood quietly smelling the air, watching the light come over the horizon and watching carefully for any traces that would give her the signs she had learned to help her to make the decision. She saw the early morning geese in fast flight south and she knew. She was right they should have started their journey a week ago. They had to move fast now and be on the trail today, within a few hours if possible. Taking a deep breath she pounded the drum to wake the tribe from slumber they had little time and must hurry now.

Setting her shawl more firmly around her shoulders she set to work to pack up her things. Quickly she packed the precious tools of her trade and the herbs that would heal the rot from the cold or the wounds of battle, even the small things that would give comfort to the new baby who was getting its first tooth.

She lifted her bundle on her shoulders, joining the tribe as it began its trek to the south. As they walked she thought of all the knowledge from all the many generations that filled her mind. Knowledge that went back so many generations that even the old mother didn’t know when they began. She thought of the joyful stories and the lessons that must be taught to the children. She loved the children and loved to watch them at play. She remembered some of her own memories of childhood play and she pondered who would remember the children’s stories? Who would remember their play in future?

Maybe she should add the children’s stories to the history that would be passed down to the next “Memory Keeper.”
Copyright Marta Moran Bishop 2011


  1. Well, you've dangled the carrot Marta. When do we get to eat :D

  2. Wonderful! I agree with Lisa, a wonderful, fat, juicy carrot!

  3. Ah Thank you both. Just a little thing that has been running circles in my mind since Karen called me the Quintessential Memory Keeper of Childhood. I started wondering why throughout history so little is remembered about what the children are doing.

  4. This is going to be a wonderful book. Thank you for the snippet that is here. Please let us know when it is done. I got here from FB.


Wee Three Book Trailer voice over Marta Moran Bishop