I stopped walking and just stood there staring at it. Jason stopped laughing and I knew he wondered what was wrong. So I answered the phone. There was complete silence. Then I looked at my phone and it said I had one missed call. I must have waited too long to answer and it had gone to voicemail. I felt so frustrated, how could I have been so dumb. Then my phone beeped telling me that I had a message. I pushed the button to call my voicemail and it was the Professor. He said he could meet me tomorrow morning at his office.
I started dancing around like a crazy person. Jason looked at me again like I was crazy. Yes, I was crazy. Crazy like a fox, I thought. Finally I was going to talk to the Professor. I told Jason the good news. He hugged me and I hugged him back. Then we turned around and started walking towards my house. While listening to our steps on the pathway, I started wondering what Ben was doing. I tried to call him again, but it rang and then went to his voicemail. I left another message for him to call me.
After saying good bye to Jason and then walking into the house, I went into the library. I loved all the books here and I enjoyed just laying on the couch and reading. But today I stood in front of the large library window. I thought back to one day when I had stood in front of this window while listening to Father tell me a story about Opal Nation. This story was not one I liked or really wanted to remember very often.
Father had been drinking some of his Special Reserve and then he had gone silent. I knew he was thinking of Mother and if I kept silent while standing in front of the window that Father would start talking. I just had not been prepared for the story he started telling me. Father started talking after about fifteen minutes of silence.
He said, "Do you know the whole time we were in Opal Nation, that we never saw any women."
What does one say to a statement like that. I kept silent.
"It was really strange that at first we did not even realize that no women were around. We were so amazed at all the other things we were seeing that it was just something that we did not pay attention to."
Then Father proceeded to tell me that Carlos was the first to notice that when they went into any of the villages that they were not seeing any women or young girls. There were not even any women that were hidden under the covers of cloth or berkas that some women wore during our time. Then the Professor had noticed that each of the houses had what looked like a large courtyard enclosure at the rear. The fence around these courtyards were over 8 feet tall and solid with no gates or windows. They all seemed to have fountains gurgling very loudly to mute any sounds coming from inside the courtyards. But every so often they could hear laughter, but they could not really tell if it was coming from males or females. A few times they thought it sounded like it was coming from females.
Finally Father's curiosty got the better of him and while in one of the villages he had asked the village leader what the women were doing right now. The men standing around talking, all went silent. Father knew he had done something wrong.
One of the men went to reach for his weapon attached to his belt. He unbuttoned the clasp on the belt. Father said he could not stop staring at the button on the clasp. The button was a large opal and he said it had the most beautiful colors, fire red, green bursts, blue spurts. He looked around at the button clasps on the other villagers belts and some were made of opals. Beautiful, dazzling opal buttons. Father sighed with wonder and then tried to figure out what they meant. Father said that later he had learned that if a man had an opal button clasp that he had served at one time in the Kweelee's army who guarded the Opal Nation and all their precious opals.
Then the village leader raised his hand to stop the man. He told the man that Father and the others were not from the Opal Nation and did not know how rude it was to ask such a question about women. The man then reclosed the clasp on his belt. Why was asking about where the women were, something that one of the Opalites was willing to draw their weapon against Father, Carlos, and the Professor?
They then knew this was one of the greatest mysteries of the Opal Nation. Father had wanted to ask the question again, but figured it was safer to keep silent. Plus they had not answered Father's question.
For those who missed part 14, here is the link. Which also links to parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.
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