Kath made his decision the same way he always did: slowly, quietly.
For some uncounted number of days, he rolled his reasons over, tucking them under every other thought of the day until they disappeared behind oatmeal breakfasts and afternoons hauling lines and shoving the wind to the proper side of the ship with the crack of supple canvas. Under afternoons trading coins over a barrel top with the gentle direction of hands won and lost. Under the taste of salt always on the back of his teeth. Under the roll and rush of waves that roared and shouldered their way beneath the hull. Under the creak and whisper at midnight, lulling him to sleep after his watch.
And then it was there, a conclusion heavy as iron, enduring as stone.
At the age of ten, my father knew exactly what he would be. Like his mother and his grandmother, he woke one night to an over-warm room, the walls glowing in cascading white-blue-black from the liquid flames pooled around his hands. Like his mother and his grandmother – all keimon born from keimon – he had known it was coming, and did what any ten-year-old should have done in the quiet confidence of midnight: he raised his hands and let the light chase the shadows for hours.
By the time he woke up, he had figured out how to shape the fire, so rather than tell his mother the precious good news, he walked a delightfully clumsy starburst of an animal across her path. He said it was a fox. She said it was a little monster with three legs and a second head where its tail should have been. They both grinned at each other.