The assignment was to write a false autobiography.
I was born in a blizzard on a tundra plain. It was at a time when if the sky had not been obscured by billowing black clouds one might have seen the sun peeking out over the edge of the world. Fathered by the wind and nurtured by the snow I emerged into the world already half grown and took my first steps on the belly of my mother while my father wrapped me in himself and whispered encouragements in my ear. Within an hour I was walking well, strong and upright like the animal known as man, whose shape I had been given. Within the first day I had learned to run, my feet bounding across the ice-covered steppe as I chased my father in a game of tag. Eventually I tired while he did not so I curled up in the bosom of She Who Bore Me and slept. That was the only night I have ever dreamed. In my dreams I saw far away cities wherein resided kings and queens, dressed in spectacular costumes with colors that were impossible to imagine out on the snow-drenched plains, where everything was blue and white with spots of gray and green. I learned much in my only night of dreaming; I learned the speech of many cultures and the ways of humankind. I learned of shame and rage and pain and jealousy. I learned of power and cruelty and beauty, faith, and love. I already knew of life and death from before I had taken my first breath of arctic air, but I learned the breadth of their meaning. From the great celebration of a monarch’s birth to the callous crushing of a baby’s head against hard stone I saw both great respect and complete disregard for those most elemental forces manifested in the same animal. In my sleep I wept, awaking to frozen tears on still warm cheeks, both from joy and pain, laughter and longing. I have always believed that my father sought to teach me of the world on that first night by whispering in my ear of everything he had seen as he traveled the wide world. He has never admitted nor denied this. All that I know is that everything I saw in my sleep state had already come to pass and that I never dreamed again.
On my second day of life I learned to kill. It was just rabbits at first, small white-furred creatures bounding across the snowdrifts in search of sustenance. I wasn’t hungry, I hadn’t gotten the hang of hunger yet, but I had seen killing in my dreams and enough of humanity to become ashamed of my nakedness. I took an icicle off a small tree and sucked on it until the end had been melted down to a sharpened point. Then I found my quarry, tracked it silently, my mother dampening the crunch of my steps, and when it stopped to feed I plunged my weapon down into its neck, spilling hot red blood into the snow. He had probably seen me coming, but animals in my birth-home had not seen enough humans to come to fear them as perhaps they should have. At least not then. The kill itself was both exhilarating and horrible. I felt a twinge of remorse from somewhere deep within me, and a feeling of triumph from somewhere even deeper. I tried to skin my victim and take its hide as a covering, but I found my ice tool inadequate to the task, so I left its little body there in the snow for the insects and the scavengers to feed on.
Eventually I grew better at my newfound hobby and killed larger, more dangerous, beasts. I never felt in danger, my father whispered what I ought to do in my ear and my mother guarded me carefully, making sure that even the fastest animal was no match for me across the treacherous terrain of her body. Soon I had a cloak of bearskin, boots made from a wolf, and a leather thong necklace decorated with the teeth and feathers of a great northern menagerie that I had slain. I had grown a taste for flesh by then too. I did not have fire so I ate it raw, ripping the still bloody strands of muscle and fat off the bone with my teeth and swallowing after only the most meager attempt at chewing. It is a wonder I didn’t choke. My regret for their deaths was a thing of the distant past by then, I knew only the thrill of the hunt and the kill. My father was encouraging of my endeavors and sought to aid me however possible. My mother gave me quiet support, voicing neither approval nor disappointment but nestling me safely each night in her icy bosom.
I was two weeks old when the men came. They were hardy northern types, all blond hair and ruddy faces. They came on machines that tore up the snow as they went, leaving deep packed tracks in my mother’s flesh, although she never cried once. They carried tents and wore heavy clothing to keep my father at bay. Though I wore clothing too it was only to hide my flesh from the sight of the world, and often I traveled with my chest exposed to my father’s sweet touch. These men showed only their heads, and even those they cloaked when my father came by, rejecting his hospitality with bitter cruelty. I hated the men for how they treated those who had borne and, at least started to, raise me and I envied them as well, for their clothes were of bright hues and seamless fabric while mine were cobbled together animal skins and the only dye I had was red. It was for these reasons that I resolved to kill them and take their things. I hope you will not find me monstrous for this and instead remember what my life had been before and the extremity of my youth, for at that point I was still less than once month old, although I possessed a body that approximated that of a human youth more than one hundred times as old. The only things I knew of men were from that first night of dreaming, and to me they were a horrifying, if wondrous, race of creatures. If I had known then what I do now I do not think I would have slain them. At the very least I would have done more to ease the suffering of their deaths.