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Submitted on
February 28
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    Whenever we were bad my mother used to take us to the mall to see Genghis Kahn. They kept him in a dusty diorama of a Mongolian steppe, all tall grass and yurts. He sat on a throne of bone (well, plastic shaped like bone), scowling in incomprehension at the American kids who flocked around him like startled lemmings. My mother would usually push us toward him, saying things like “Tell him what you did to your father’s stamp collection.” Genghis would give a grunt, spit a wad of phlegm onto the tall grass, and give us a  wizened, wrinkled grimace, as if he had to go to the bathroom.

    He terrified me.

    My brother couldn’t get enough of him.

    When my brother got caught in my mother’s evening dress, my mother grabbed us both and dragged us to Genghis. It was a slow day, and we were the only kids crowding him. “Tell him what you did,” my mother hissed at him, shoving him toward Genghis. He gave the Kahn a long, slow look, as if his expression were melting onto his face like wax. Genghis scowled, sharpening his dagger with a stone across his knee.

    “Why wasn’t I born a girl?” my brother said softly. Genghis continued to sharpen his dagger, his black eyes giving my brother a sly look. He muttered something in Mongolian, spat, and proffered the knife to my brother, as if it were a candy.

    “Why would you want to be a girl?” I said. My brother shrugged, gingerly reaching out for the knife with his fingertips. Genghis thrust it back, giving a low snigger.

    “You can’t be a girl, you’re a boy,” my mother said, wiping a hand across her eyes. “Look at Mr. Kahn, do you see him complaining he was born a boy?”

    “How can you tell, he doesn’t speak English,” my brother said. My mother huffed, turning her face away, as if she didn’t want us to see her cry. The hum of the mall grew dim as Genghis sharpened his knife into the silence between us.

    “It’s not fair,” my brother said. “I didn’t ask to be a boy.”

    “You don’t ask, you just are,” my mother said. “Now tell Mr. Kahn about what you did.”

    My brother gazed at Genghis with wide eyes, looking more like an owl than a boy. “I dressed up like a girl,” he whispered. “It was nice.”

    Genghis reached into his pocket, pulled out a stinking piece of dried fish. He took a bite with his yellowed teeth, then offered some to my brother. My brother wrinkled his nose, but took a piece of the fish and brought it to  his nose. He sniffed it carefully, then shoved it in  his pocket.

    “”See, he doesn’t care that I’m a girl,” my brother said. My mother sighed, dragging  her fingers through her mousy hair.

    “Mr. Kahn,” she said, “tell my son he can’t be a girl.”

    Genghis slowly masticated his fish, his black eyes glittering like jade. He spat a mouthful of Mongolian, drawing his knife across his throat.

    “See,” Mother said, “now come on, you’ve got homework to do.”

    “But—” my brother stuttered as Mother yanked him away from the Kahn.

    “No buts, Mister,” she muttered, dragging him through the crowded mall. We passed shops filled to bursting with clothes, shoes, dazed people unsure of where they were going. My brother frowned fiercely, his small face pinched and snarled like a knot begging to be untied.

    “I’m a girl,” he said under his breath, “I don’t care what anyone else says.”



    Years later, after the police had shut down the Kahn, I sometimes worried that I had imagined the whole thing. No one seemed to remember him, apart from my sister. Katherine had moved to San Francisco with her girlfriend, and she hadn’t spoken to my mother in five years. She still had a fondness for dried fish, and knives. The summer after I finished college I stayed with them for a few weeks, biding my time till I had to join the real world. They lived in a small apartment above a curry shop, and while drowning in the smell of spices I inhaled their premium weed and let my mind go soft to the colors of San Francisco.

    “Do you remember Genghis?” I asked Kat one evening. She was slicing onions at the kitchen counter, her hair tied up like a spider’s web atop her head.

    “Yeah,” she said, “why?”

    “Mom denies she took us to him,” I said. “She says I made it up.”

    “He was real,” Kat said, a grim line to her mouth. “I wonder where he is. I wish I could thank him.”

    “For what?”

    “For not judging me,” Kat said.

    “How do you know he didn’t judge you, he only spoke Mongolian!”

    “I could tell. It was in his eyes. And he gave me some of his fish that one time.”

    “Okay, I’ll give you that.”

    Watching Kat scrape the sliced onions into the pan on the stove, I had this sense of double vision. I saw the young woman standing before me, graceful, tall; but I also saw the brother who lived most of his childhood in mud, as scraggly as a coyote. She still had the same mischievous smile, but it was softer, somehow. And I couldn’t pinpoint exactly when that changed for me.

    “I wonder where he is now,” I said. “I don’t think you can make a living if all you speak is ancient Mongolian.”

“He conquered most of Asia, I’m sure he figured something out.”
Don't ask me where this came from, because I have no idea. We had to write about a historical figure for my fiction class, and this is what happened. 
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Daily Deviation

Given 2014-03-12
Genghis by TheMitmit ( Suggested by SolidMars and Featured by GrimFace242 )
AkatsukiLoverXDX3 Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2014  Professional General Artist
I love this. X'3
TheMitmit Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you :aww:
vividstarlightdream Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2014  Student Writer
This is amazing just so you know (like you don't already) I love the last line, "He conquered most of Asia, I'm sure he figured something out." It's fantastic.
TheMitmit Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you very much! I'm glad you liked it so much :D
sciencevsart Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This was a wonderful story. Your writing style is simple, direct, no fancy words or long- run-on sentences, but can still convey so much. Big emotions still don't need big words, as usual. The Khan (it's spelled that way, actually, but never mind that) seems like a sympathetic character, and I like how he was a curiousity rather than a plot device. Did he understand? Did he care, if he did? Was he even lucid? Was he the catalyst for the character's brother/sister to embrace his/her inner self? I don't know, and I like not knowing.

There's a pleasure in not knowing.
TheMitmit Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you very much :) I also find pleasure in not knowing, and with this story I purposefully made it a vague question. I'm happy to hear you enjoyed that aspect!
SolidMars Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Wave by chil96
hi there, your lovely work has been featured here: March Feature :heart:
TheMitmit Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2014  Student Writer
Thank you so much, I do appreciate it! 
SolidMars Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
you're welcome :huggle:
DamonWakes Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2014   Writer
This has a brilliant opening sentence. And closing sentence. Everything in between is great too, but it's the beginning and end that really stand out. I like that there's some concern for Genghis Khan, though personally I think it would make more sense to be concerned about Genghis Khan. He's a fascinating character: terrifying, pitiful, and (if Kat's right about him) kind of admirable.

It's a really small point, but I'd recommend taking another look at the punctuation in: "How do you know he didn't judge you, he only spoke Mongolian!" I feel as though it would read better with a question mark after "judge you." As it is, I think it feels a little hurried. I also didn't read it as an exclamation until after I hit the exclamation mark--to me, it seemed like the sort of thing that would just be spoken, or perhaps said with a laugh--but I can't say for sure I'd prefer it with a plain old full stop. Still, it's a significant line, so it'd be worth making sure it reads just right.

I really agree with MacabreAustereRelume about this. After I read the first paragraph, I knew I had to go on. After I read the last paragraph, I was sure I'd remember this story forever.
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