I spent some time the other day working on that promontory story I mentioned earlier. It’s still unfinished; I have the feeling that this will be the kind of story where I return back to it every few months. Here is what I have thus far:
PROMONTORY STORY (FINDING THE PROMONTORY)
Gabriel and I walked to the promontory every morning that summer, apart from Sundays. I would eat my breakfast of a soft-boiled egg and soldiers, meet him at the end of the street, and we would climb over the chain-link fence behind the community centre. There was a gap in the fence about twenty feet down the field, but that was the grown-up way. I only went that way when I was with my parents. When it was just Gabriel and I, we climbed the fence.
When we reached the promontory, Gabriel would crouch on the rocks, water splashing over his feet, poking at the clams that attached themselves to the sides of the tide pools. He loved to poke at stuff. He’d poke your eye out if given half the chance. I was always more interested in the bugs that crawled through the dirt among the grass. The feeling of water on my feet unnerved me; I much preferred feeling the dirt between my toes.
Often, I would press my face against the ground and stare through the blades of grass, pretending they were towering trees. I really thought that when I did so, I was approximating the viewpoint of a bug. I wanted to see the world the way they saw it. It wasn’t until years later that a different friend casually explained to me that, to a bug, my body would seem as large as a mountain. This realization was a revelation to me: the great chasm that stood between bugs and myself made mathematical. I could never be friends with a creature the size of a mountain.
As we played, Gabriel and I would discuss our imaginary country. The country was originally named Xelphabia, until we forgot that name and re-named it Promontorio. Gabriel and I were the co-presidents. Gabriel was the first president, because he had discovered it, and I was the second president. Gabriel had discovered the country when he sailed across an ocean that looked like a giant tide pool, in a boat that looked a lot like a clam shell. When he reached Promontorio, he sent me a telepathic message, and I flew over on a narrow, green plane. We were the presidents and the only citizens.
When the country was invaded by bugs, I would negotiate with them and build them homes. They never stayed long, but they would leave with a diplomatic passport and occasionally, despite our best attempts at hospitality, a broken leg or two. Other than that, Promontorio had few enemies, and was a fairly docile place, all told.
And yet despite the long-running peace, Promontorio was a strict state. The law code would’ve covered the whole beach, if the waves hadn’t erased all our writing halfway through. Citizens of Promontorio were under a legal obligation to eat ice cream at 3pm every Saturday. (The flavour was their choice, of course. We weren’t dictators.) That was the first commandment. They also had to wear nametags on which their names were spelled both forwards and backwards. That was Gabriel’s idea. He used to tell other kids that his full name was Gabriel Leirbag.
Promontorio’s national anthem was short. We both agreed that reciting our national anthem in both English and French before every school assembly was a waste of everyone’s time. Promontorio’s anthem was in one language: Promontorian. Promontorian shared many similarities to English, except the pronunciation of ‘f’ and ‘q’ were switched around.
Promontorio! Promontorio! It’s Promontorio!
When we want to have qun, this is a-where we go!
I wrote and composed the anthem. I accompanied on an instrument of my own invention: an extremely versatile instrument made from whichever two sticks I happened to find lying around.
But the governance of Promontorio did not always run smoothly. […]