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A Language Lost

A Language Lost


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Published by Connor Ludovissy
Henri, a child, finds an artifact from a forgotten time. Flash fiction and a contest entry.
Henri, a child, finds an artifact from a forgotten time. Flash fiction and a contest entry.

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Published by: Connor Ludovissy on Jul 10, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The prompt:

The challenge: According to the New York Times, a recently completed dictionary of the so-called “dead language”of ancient Mesopotamia would have been used by some of ancient history’s heaviest hitters, including Hammurabi, Nebuchadnezzar II, Sargon the Great—and now you. Translate, interpret, extrapolate on, or seek inspiration from the ancient document above to create a short narrative no longer than 300 words. Send us your responses in the form of a short story, a poem, a haiku, a set piece, a vignette, or any other form you can think of. We will announce the winner on July 13.


A Language Lost
The boy ran as fast as he could back to the house. He sprinted through the field, bounded over the bridge, and then barreled down the hill as he made his way to the front door. The boy’s mother turned as the door flew open. Henri stood in the doorway, panting and clutching something to his chest. The prized object was wrapped in Henri’s beat-up jacket that he insisted on wearing day after day despite having a brand new one hanging in his closet. He took a step into the foyer. Dymini, the boy’s mother, loudly cleared her throat. The boy nodded and kicked off his shoes. Dymini asked her son what he had found. Henri wanted to tell her –but the truth was, he didn’t really know. He slowly unwrapped the artifact and sat it on the counter, next to his mother. She squinted her eyes and inspected it. The boy stood on his tiptoes to see what she was doing. He was impatient. Always had been. Dymini smiled and picked up a blue rag. She used it to wipe all of the dirt off of Henri’s loot. She gave it back to the boy and pointed to a small, round button on the object. Henri pressed the button and gasped. Dymini hadn’t seen a tablet computer in a long time. Henri’s eyes lit up as Welcome! flashed across the computer screen. The greeting gave way to a yellow, lined screen with a flashing indicator. Henri pressed his finger against the screen. A gray keyboard appeared with bizarre characters he had never seen before –the symbols of some strange people lost to antiquity. “Xibolo es?” he asked his mother. Dymini smiled and leaned down to pat her son on the head. “English,” she said.

-Connor Ludovissy

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