Laúm waited for the sounds of sleep from the others before turning on the small light above his bed and reaching into his backpack for the paper-thin document reader storing his ascension speech. The child’s two eyes stared at him in the darkness, reflecting the light of his reading lamp. He turned away from her watchful gaze and silently mouthed each word as he would in front of the Elders: men and women he hoped to one day emulate. The hours before dawn passed quickly. The child had fallen asleep and Laúm switched off the reader and turned off the light. It didn’t appear as if he’d catch any sleep before his ascension ceremony, but he counted on the adrenaline and the excitement of the occasion to pull him through to the other side.
The ceremony was a blur. It was held in one of the communal buildings not far from his family’s hut. Laúm and two other teenagers stood and pretended to listen to a number of speeches on what it meant to be an adult. The adult’s in each teen’s life spoke on behalf of the character and achievements of each of the “candidates,” which Laúm thought to be a silly word to use. They would all of them make it through the ceremony following speeches of their own. It took a lot of active work to not reach the ascension ceremony. If a malcontent truly resisted the Quondan codes of living, that teen would not make it to the dais like the three of them had today.
There was a small feast afterward—which meant double rations—and Laúm and his peers were toasted numerous times with the beverage that Sophus so heartily endorsed. Sophus himself looked a little green. Laúm supposed, as he became what must be “drunk,” that he would look similar in the morning. Exhausted, Laúm excused himself as soon as decorum allowed and returned to his family’s unit. Once in bed, he dreamed that he was boldly hunting wild bears and fierce beavers as his hero, Bjorn The Mighty, had in the Book of Kith.