INVENTION OF THE WHEEL

It was a new method of doing things. One that none of them had seen before. In fact, it was like magic and it made them certain they had met some form of deity. The three men hunkered around and exchanged nods. They have met a god.

“You need four, no more!” Usul explained again and pointed at said four. Finely curved large poles that were cut off from trees and used primarily as supports for transport. There was a short one, shaped to curve around the animal they would use. Two long ones of equal size that would go along the sides of the animal. And the last, slightly shorter, meant to combine the two and hold up the goods. It was a man-made transportation system and your only worry was the animal you would use. He explained again that a horse was better because it could carry more. It could also be adapted to the weather. Usul explained this several times but the three faces looking at him seemed more and more perplexed.

He couldn’t really blame them. He had had that exact expression when it was explained to him.

Usul breathed in deeply to draw their attention again. The three cave men perked up and moved in closer to listen. Seated in an open meadow filled with pretty flowers and scarce trees, it was the perfect air for such demonstrations. And around them, tamed horses grazed freely waiting for their keepers. The four men all wore skins from different animals and of different designs, either beaded or left bare, that kept most of their body covered. They were held with loose fitting straps that also served to hold knives and other implements. And in the midst of them were the four poles of varying lengths. The traveller touched each constantly, struggling to explain their purpose. It was a simpler way! A better way to travel!

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“It is better if one remember one pole and the other, a second. That way you never forget my travel machine.” Usul said and the three nodded eagerly. “You!” he pointed to the oldest and he responded by holding his spear behind him and leaning forward. “You remember this little one.” Usul pointed to the pole that would go around the horse’s front. “It is strong and is for the animal to push. It goes below neck.”

“I remember.” The man nodded and reached for the pole. He held it easily with one hand and turned it around severally as if committing it to memory. He ran a hand through the smooth edges so he could gauge how to work it from ordinary wood. Then with a nod at the traveller, he placed it back with the others.

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“You,” Usul pointed to a youth who seemed like a son of the first man. This time the response was to move his fore body closer and place one hand firmly on the ground as support. “You remember the long ones. They are two brothers of the same birth. Must then be same in everyway.”

“I remember.” The youth nodded and stood quickly to examine the poles more intently. They were longer than the little one. And they were of the same size, weight, and length. “Twins.” He commented and the traveller nodded understanding. The youth placed inexperienced hands on the poles to gauge various things he couldn’t tell. He tried to lift one and failed but pretended to have understood anyway. Once he was done he loped back to where he had sat and nodded, a whimsical smile playing on his lips.

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“You,” Usul pointed to the youngest. He could barely contain his excitement. He must be a boy of around eleven or thirteen, Usul reasoned. The child moved his whole body forward by picking himself up with his hands. He didn’t mind it when the precious wolf-tail he used as a belt got dirty. “You remember another little one. It is for the back of animal. It helps animal move. Makes easy the ground to drag on. Carries.”

“I…remember.” The youth stammered and rushed closer to the item. He picked it up for just a while before his eyes were drawn to the traveller again. “You come from where?” He asked what the others feared most. It was one thing to see a god; it was another thing to acknowledge it. The traveller with his red hair of such wiry quality was completely different to them and their dark locks. He stood more easily and spoke more readily. Like no human they met before.

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The traveller rose up and stared beyond the open field, the trees and at the distant mountains. “There where the sun touches the earth.” The others stood as well and awed at it. Usul understood their concerns and said, “I come from a place where wood is made into many things. I am no god. A true God has no need for this gift. I travel and learn new things.”

The three men seemed content and the traveller decided to say his goodbyes. He was still a long way from home and there was so much to share along the way. He left the men there among their horses. They waited until he was farthest away before they could reveal the importance of their encounter. Their faces lit up and they could barely keep still. They rushed to their little tents of thatched grass and began tearing it apart. They tied other thongs around their waist to hold up more weapons and tools. A strong blow of the youth’s flute called all the horses together and they were quickly buried under everything the men had acquired of the rich land. There were foods, meats, hides, decorative stones, honey and more. Things that seemed less valuable now. There was no time to waste. They had a story to tell and a new device to share with their community. Before they set out, they came together in the middle of all their belongings and drew the brown dust into their hands. They threw it around themselves, asking for safe passage on their way through uninhabited land.

Many days past before they made it home. But after seventeen new suns rose, they were finally among their people.

The people who lived near the wide waters gathered around their three sons to hear strange stories from their journey. There was so much to tell. ‘A river had divided a land from their reach and they had to swim across.’ ‘A deer had walked into their temporary dwelling, surprised to find humans there.’ ‘And they met a man who came from where the sun touched the earth.’ The group gasped in unison. They were seated close, all seventy of them, listening to the tale of the god-like man. They faced the roaring ocean and sat in the middle of trees that were surrounded by numerous small fires of every home. Before them, the sun was setting but not so much that you couldn’t see their faces full of fear and wonder. The god-like man had given them a gift that could change their world. Such new ways were rare.

When morning came and the light was plentiful, the men gathered outside the village to build the devices they saw. The first little pole was completed as the eldest remembered. The twins were also done to perfection. But the youngest had forgotten and to the dismay of the community, couldn’t quite recapture the device. Nothing he tried looked the way the traveller had said and he knew he had to remember it exactly. You were never to distort the words of a god. He remembered only one word. ‘Carries’. This device should be able to carry things.

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The young boy worked with the wood carvers for days until he achieved something that could carry. A large round tree trunk, uncut but left in its circular form. When it was placed across the two polls it seemed capable of carrying. But not enough, and not well. As the youth sighed again, and the community collectively, he picked up his round wood and started walking away with it. The demonstration he hoped for was over. Everyone was leaving. As he walked, he was too depressed to look keenly and he didn’t notice the tree root. His foot slipped perfectly into the bend and it threw him forward. His creation flew out his hands, bounded and landed on its edge before it rolled away. It rolled all the way into the ocean.

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