by J.L. O'Dell
A celebration of Olaf's Name Day.
|My mother asked that I return early from chopping wood today. She always worried and wanted me home before dark. But today was to be special. It was my name day. The other name for it was forbidden to be spoken by my people. We were too common for such words, so those words were only to be used by the upper class, City Folk we called them. Those words were not to be spoken by us Wood People. Certain words were taboo. Punishment was certainly to come. Someone would hear and tell the City Folk judges for their own benefit.
I arrived home early with a cart full of good oak firewood. Oak burned longer and hotter than any other wood in the forest and was plentiful. It would fetch a good price. One more day in the forest and I was sure to make much gilt for my mother. This was our only way to make the gilt we needed to buy those items City Folk took for granted. Father went to the city when I was younger but never returned. My mother always thought that he may have spoken, or written a taboo word and was imprisoned, but we did not know for sure.
The house smelled of fresh pastries and there sitting on the table was a newly baked loaf. Again, you must understand the other word is forbidden. Must I keep reminding you? As you read my tale, please understand that if I use a word that seems odd to you or describe an item or thing in a strange manner, it is because the rules, laws that we live by, forbid the use of such words. If I were caught using words only to be spoken or written by City Folk, I would be banished from this place or worse.
My smiling mother and little sister, Anna, busied themselves with setting dinner out. I leaned over the table to breath in the aroma of this glorious name day loaf. The temptation to run my finger along the side to gather just a small amount of the chocolate spread that was covering this tall loaf was almost too much to control. If I were caught, my mother would surely swat me. I resisted for now.
Dinner was delicious and quickly finished. The venison stew, last of the meat from last week’s kill, was moist and tender. Anna picked fresh vegetables and dug potatoes from our meager garden. Fresh baked bread added greatly to the meal although I tried not to eat too much of anything. My name day loaf covered in that wonderful spread was calling to me.
After dishes were done and the stew put away, it was time for the main event; my name day loaf.
“Would you like to say anything before Anna, and I present you with this loaf on your sixteenth name day?”
“Only thank you to both. It looks like the best loaf you have ever made.” That was all I could say as the drool dripped from my mouth. My loaf was so close I could smell the subtle chocolate aroma, the white glaze mother used to decorate the sides and write my name, “Olaf”, on top. She decorated the top with tiny torches that she lit and, as always, I blew out. My name day wish was for father to return to us and for much firewood to be gathered come tomorrow.
Mother cut a large piece for me. As she placed it on my dish, I saw the white emulsion that was spread between the two layers. This was the best name day loaf ever.
Taboo Words Contest