Crossing over the Line

Rodino is Only Ten, but he Remembers

Pitre opens the front door and picks Rodino up and places him on the stool at the head of the table.

Eat son, he says, and eat well. The more food he pushes onto Rodino’s plate the more Rodino eats. It’s a miracle where all that food goes. Good, Pitre says, time to go, and he washes his hands in the sink and kisses Felice goodbye.

Felice hands Rodino a small parcel…

… and he feels the contents suspicious about what is going on, because he had thought his father was going away and now he sees him dressed in his walking jacket and holding his stick.

Today you will learn how to put your hunger away and become a man, Pitre says. Now say goodbye to your mother and sisters. Pitre takes off his beret and squashes it onto Rodino’s head saying, look after it son, it’s yours. He opens the goat enclosure and whistles for the goats. To the mountains, he shouts and strides towards the gulley.

Me too, Rodino says trembling with excitement and hardly believing that he is included.

For five days son, Pitre barks in triumph.

Five! Rodino quivers and looks incredulously at the small parcel in his hands. Is this all Mama, he shouts, but Felice waves him away and he turns to follow the goats and his father out into the open fields. What about school, he asks in a desperate bid to be saved from this test.

This is school, and Pitre steps over the line he had drawn in front of the gully.

Excerpt from the book Son of Xanos

The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910)

The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The goat Heiðrún consumes the foliage of the t...

The goat Heiðrún consumes the foliage of the tree Læraðr, while her udders produce mead

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