Epitome. Funny little word. Comes to us from Greek via Latin. Via comes to us via Latin, too. Does the English language have any words that aren’t nicked from some other language? I suppose it does, but even some of those seem to be from older languages. My kingdom for a single word that is genuinely and originally from the English language! But I digress. Thanks to Latin, I’m able to do just that.
Anyway, epitome. From Latin, via the Greek word epitomē, which derived from epitemnein, meaning “abridge”, a conjunction of epi, meaning “in addition”, and temnein, meaning “to cut.” So, let’s see, “in addition to cut,” maybe “an additional cut,” abridgment, how did we get to where we are with today’s most prevalent meaning, a “perfect example of a particular quality or type?”
Just what constitutes being a buddy? A bud. A BFF. Can you be a buddy with someone you just met? Or is there some unwritten rule that says you can’t be best buds until some certain period of time has passed? Is it like a probationary period, are you like “buddies in waiting”, or maybe “provisional buddies?” And if you’re buddies, can you fall out of “buddy-ness”, like we humans fall in and then out of love?
I’ve had lots of buddies over the years. There was my buddy Peter, who lived across the alley when I was a kid. I look back on that time, and I think we were inseparable, but then, we weren’t, because I haven’t seen him for decades. Were we really buddies?
A searing light invaded his consciousness, from everywhere at once, so bright he wanted to turn away. As he tried to move, every bone, tendon, ligament, fiber and nerve screamed in an excruciating chorus of pain. The pain was instantaneous, as if by a switch, so intense his consciousness recoiled back.
Consciousness returned, the light, less bright, the pain, dulled. He heard air, moving slowly, punctuated by high chirps and low murmurs, swirling, a cacophony. As he tried to separate them he suddenly smelled heavy, medicinal, antiseptic odors, layer upon layer, unidentifiable as the sounds were indecipherable. Consciousness, overwhelmed, retreated again.
The stone stairs tumbled down the breach dug into the side of the hillock, steep and uneven. Grass burst from the spaces between the slabs, moss clung to their faces. The tumble poured into the earth, down a shaft that ended at a rough hewn door, a vertical plank of wood that seemed carved in place, as if from the taproot of some massive oak tree that had once stood on the mound.
Nature had long ago curled her tendrils around the head and jambs of the door’s timber frame, trying hard to pull it deeper into the hummock, the door appearing to meet directly with earth. A rough wooden dowel poked from a horizontal slot cut in the left side of the slab, and to the right four rusted carriage bolts signaled the iron straps that held a slide bolt to the inside of the door.