Legend Of Loh'Moi

“Where does it lead to?” Loh’moi’s mother asked, referring to the complex diagrams he had carefully drawn all over the sloped attic ceiling, which doubled as a wall.

“No where,” Loh’moi replied. He didn’t understand why he even bothered to answer, since she would not understand.

“Yes, I can see quite clearly that it leads no where, at least you’re talking some sense.” She shook her head in dismay. Loh’moi was sad that he did not align with his mother’s hopes for him. But he had something better in mind.

“Now come down to dinner,” she said, patting her apron, “before you fall asleep.” She left in her clanking shoes down the stairs. She mumbled to herself, “To think I had a genius son who sleeps standing up, and spends days in artwork no one buys.”

Loh’moi had to admit that he was hungry. And he needed more ink, which was in the pantry next to the kitchen.

He stepped forward toward the geometric diagrams he had drawn. One of them looked rather like the floor plan for their three-story house. He touched it and immediately appeared in the pantry downstairs.

After finding the ink, he emerged into the dining room. His mother was placing a steaming bowl of soup and noodles on the table.

Loh’moi smiled. It was his favorite. “Oh ma’ma,” he said happily. “How much you think of me.”

“I only try to set a healthy example for my children, as your father would have.” Loh’moi was an only child, and his father who had been a carpenter had died years before, by some accident while repairing the roof of a rich merchant’s home. The merchant never paid funeral respects or offered to help them. Loh’moi’s stomach knotted up just thinking about it.

They sat to eat. “So, any tutoring this week? Hmm?” She asked, clearly hinting for him to work. Occasionally he managed to pull himself from his geometry to make a coin or two, tutoring the neighborhood children in mathematics and the temple priests in accounting.

“Yes, ma’ma, it’s temple exams,” he replied. “Many eunuchs are studying this year for the temple. They all need help.” The temple took the top ten percent regardless of how any one man fared, making Loh’moi’s tutoring a humorous if sad joke.

“It’s very sad,” she commented. “And to think they can take it only once. I’d think you would be in great demand!” She motioned, “Pass me the salt, please, dear. How unfortunate, they’ll never have children. At least you can still marry.” She said this with a hint that required no explanation. Loh’moi did have a few female admirers in his school years, but that was a decade ago. In his view, young women were like visual illusions, diagrams that no one could transcribe, much less solve.

“I get ten gold at week’s end,” he said, hoping for so much.

“Oh?” She stopped, genuinely intrigued. “Tell me more.”

“It’s the usual. But I have a request.”

“You just can’t help but tease me, can you, smart one?” She said with bitter humor. “Go on.”

“I will be starting on a very difficult geometry problem, and I need a larger continuous wall than the attic.”

“What a surprise,” she interjected, with some anger.

“I would like to use the interior hallway wall, but not in the hallway of course. I don’t wish to disturb you. I will create a doorway against the wall between my bedroom and father’s old study, and use that instead.”

She stopped eating. “I don’t know why you can’t use paper like every other scholar. And why…” She almost broke down in tears. “… Your father’s memory. If only he hadn’t passed on.”

“I am asking a lot, ma’ma, I know. It will not be forever.”

“No, the house will fall down first,” she said. “But it is your house, as the law says, and I am very grateful that you have allowed me to stay here. Do as you like.”

For the rest of dinner they chatted intermittently about the neighbors, their barking dog, and an old butcher named Ethanial who had recently died.

“Now, Ethanial,” his mother said with the pride of youth, “he helped make this town a place we could all be proud of. He got married during the war. It wasn’t easy at all then.” She said this as if her life now was hard. She was retired and spent her days in the garden, or shopping and gossiping over tea.

Loh’moi excused himself when he was done.

“You want a snack plate?” She asked. “You like snacks.”

“Oh yes, thank you.” He didn’t eat the snacks. They were for his secret pet, Goh’moh. Goh’moh was sort of like a ghost dog, but not. It was an extra-dimensional creature, about the size of a dog, that he had raised since it was a pup. He had discovered it between two angles in a parallelogram. But he would never tell his mother. She might think it was invisible, or a monster, or if he were lucky, an imaginary friend.

After she packed a plate, he climbed the stairs normally to the attic. As he often did, he found the stairway geometry simple yet endlessly fascinating when viewed with perspective. As a boy he had sometimes gotten lost just walking up the stairs.

Back at his desk, Loh’moi sketched on paper the diagram he would draw on the new wall. If the calculations were correct, and the angles drawn exactly, then the project might succeed.

He sat back in quiet of satisfaction, nodding to himself. It was really very simple now. His original plan had been to bend space and time back upon itself, so that he might return to the past and prevent his father’s death. And time permitting, kill that evil man, Ethanial, who Goh’moh had yapped was a serial killer. But bending time proved far too complex. The mind of a humanoid such as himself was simply too… enclosed… to move itself through time.

However, humanoids were remarkably self-aware. If only he could make himself smarter. The wall downstairs would be just large enough to create a diagram, a portal, into his own mind. He wondered what would happen when he stepped in there.

One afternoon, while his mother was at tea, he did just that.

Perhaps he should have wondered how he would get out.

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