2 of 5 stars.
The rites of culture and religion threaten to pass into hollow routine unless meaningfulness is re-upped.
In this subtle tale, the narrator is born of two people from opposite sides of a civil war. Her outsider status helps her to see through the cultural trappings of her hometown. A childhood game of “Falcons-and-Sparrows” [ie “Tag” mixed with “Blind Man’s Bluff”] serves as a metaphor for what she experiences around her. In the game, a blindfolded falcon tries to find the sparrows eluding him.
The narrator heads to the local shrine and queues up for the scribes as per routine. The scribes chronicle the prayers of the devotees, each on its own piece of paper which is then folded [into a sparrow] and released. But she notices that the scribes aren’t actually writing anything down or listening to the prayers. The papers already have writings and drawings on them . . .
This tale appears in the New Lovecraftian anthology, The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu edited by Paula Guran. I received my copy of the anthology directly from Prime Books. I’ve previously read this author’s “Combustion Hour” and “Wine”.
[Check out my other reviews here.]