The Boy Who Slept Until The Past

Eduardo Sure; Quetzalcoatl, 2017; Watercolor on Paper

The boy wanted to cry aloud. His father, the King, was killed by the kingdom’s generals just a few hours earlier. But, he had to hold the weeping in. If he allowed himself to make a sound, then someone might find him. It would be the end of him. So he was quiet, still as a stone, and tried not to breathe as he hid inside of a small cave. He thought that was the safest place because he had hidden there before when he wanted to be alone and no one had ever found him.

The boy did not know what to do. He prayed to Quetzalcóatl. That was his father’s god. That god was the very reason his father was killed. Still, he prayed to him. With trembling hands, he pulled a purple flower from his shirt that he always kept pressed against his skin as close to his heart as he could get it. He rubbed the petals between his fingers as he prayed. The scent of the flower was released as if it were his voice.

The boy only wanted to know what to do to stay alive. His wildest expectation was that he would receive a divine hint that he might or might not understand. Instead of a sign, a feathered serpent came to him. He knew immediately that it was Quetzalcóatl. Since the god himself appeared, the boy asked for more than a way to save his own life: he asked for his father back.

Quetzalcóatl told him that he could not give him his father back in that world. But, in exchange for the flower the boy held, he would give him back his father along with a chance to save him in the future. He explained to the boy that time moves in a circle. He could put the boy in a deep sleep; the world would see all of its sunrises, be destroyed, and then begin again. The boy could wake at a time in the future when he could save his father. The boy agreed to the trade. He stretched out his hand offering Quetzalcóatl the flower. Quetzalcóatl bit the boy’s hand putting him to sleep.

While the boy slept, countless suns rose and set. The moon looked sadly down at the world as it aged and ended. There was darkness. Then, the world began again. Two-thousand-nine-hundred years after the first sun rose over the horizon of that new world, the boy woke.

The boy crawled out of the cave shielding his face against the light. It was so bright to him initially that it was blinding. He fought through the discomfort and forced himself to look around. First, he opened one eye squinting. The trees and rocks around the cave came into focus. They looked familiar to him, but he could tell that they were not the same. As he became used to the light, he opened the other eye and began walking back to the palace. He was not completely sure that he was going the right way. The landscape rose and fell differently. He was very afraid that he had only dreamt about his trade with Quetzalcóatl. He looked at his hand for bite marks, but there were none.

The boy was only sure that he was going the right way when he saw the tops of the pyramids around the palace rise from the horizon. As he got closer, they grew in size. The number of trees around him became fewer and the number of people grew more.

No one paid attention to him in the way that he was used to as the King’s son. He walked into the Kingdom of Tula as an invisible boy. He thought no one could see him until he tried to enter the palace. He had not been born in this world, so the guards did not know him. They did not allow him to enter. They did not speak to him or push him, they merely stood in the way.

By extremely good fortune, King Topilzín walked by the entrance. The boy looked past the guards at his father’s face and into his eyes. That captured the King’s attention and he looked back at the boy. He appeared to remember him. Topilzín commanded the guards to let the boy enter the palace.

Topilzín told the boy that he did not know why his warriors were so protective. He said that when he founded the kingdom, he did not want warriors to watch the entrances to any part of it. He wanted everyone to walk freely. The purpose of the kingdom was to provide peace so that everyone could live their lives to their fullest potential. He hoped that his people would pursue gaining and creating knowledge, perfecting useful skills, and creating beauty. However, a part of his society did not want any of that or even peace. They wanted to gain as much power over as many people as possible. They wanted to take whatever they wanted. They prayed to the god Tezcatlipoca for war, victory, and expansion of the kingdom.

As the boy and the King walked through the palace, an elite warrior asked if Topilzín would listen to a request. Topilzín granted the warrior permission to ask. The warrior said that the current month belonged to the god Tezcatlipoca. The god had led a small group of warriors to victory over a band of nomads. He asked if the pyramids could be used to sacrifice the nomads to Tezcatlipoca that night to celebrate and to thank him.

Topilzín said no.

The warrior asked if the pyramids could be used any night that month for that purpose.

Topilzín replied that they could not be used any night that month or ever. He reminded the warrior that they did not make human sacrifices in his kingdom. He commanded the warrior to release the nomadic people with food, supplies, tools, and safe passage out of the kingdom.

The warrior did not reply, but asked to be dismissed by the Topilzín. Once the King granted permission, the warrior left without uttering another word.

The boy did not like the way that the warrior had acted when his request was denied. He told his father that he was going make sure the warrior released the nomads. He followed the warrior out of the palace and through crowds of people. The warrior walked to a ball court near the palace. There was a game that many people had gone to see. After the boy followed the warrior into the court, he thought it was curious that a number of military elites had sat together to watch the game. Normally, they kept away from each other.

He sat close enough to the group that he could hear them talking. Since the crowd was loud, the men did not whisper. The warrior told the other military elites that Topiltzín had refused to allow them to use the pyramids to make their sacrifices to their god Tezcatlipoca. He also told them that they had been commanded to release the nomads. One of the men was careless in saying aloud that they would remove Topilzín. The others waved their hands as if to silence him. Even a young boy could see that the response to Topilzín’s refusal had already been discussed before by the men.

The boy swiftly left the court. He knew what was about to happen. He ran to his father’s palace and searched frantically for him. When he found the King, he released the words from his mouth like vomit. He told his father that his military was going to overthrow him. The boy said he knew that they would kill him and advised him to leave the kingdom.

It was the boy’s turn not to notice someone. There was an old man in the room with them. In response to the boy’s claim, the old man said that the military would not harm the King. He said that the elite educated people agreed with the King’s teachings. They all wanted his peaceful ways. The elites would back him up and keep him safe.

The old man offered Topilzín a drink saying that it would help him think calmly. As the old man held the cup out to the King, the boy noticed the old man’s eyes. He asked his father to look at them. The old man’s eyes were like a jaguar’s. When Topilzín saw them, he knew that the old man was the god Tezcatlipoca in disguise. Menacing, the god told the King that he was angry that he had not allowed the human sacrifices. He roared as he left.

Topiltzín realized that his son was his truest adviser. He decided to take his advice to leave. They both left the kingdom soon after. The people who agreed with his teachings and beliefs left too. The King swore to return some day to reclaim his throne.

Topiltzín, his son, and his followers left by ship. Later that year, their fleet arrived in the Yucatan Peninsula. Topiltzín, his son, and followers were welcomed to join the Mayan culture and share their teachings. Some people accepted the teachings and some did not. However, they all lived peacefully together growing to their fullest potential into old age.

The End

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