A Dreaming Moon by Tami Lynne

EXTRACT FOR
A Dreaming Moon

(Tami Lynne)


Chapter 1

My first memory is of my mother, sitting by our cooking fire and telling me that my body is sacrosanct.
She would sit by the stones, delineating where our life-giving fire was contained, twirling a ribbon of my obsidian-black hair round her fingers while telling me the story of my conception.
“I could not sleep that night. The titi in the trees were calling to each other, begging for someone to come and play with them,” she would begin, smiling down at me, sheltered with my head in her lap.
“And you had to go, didn’t you, anha?” I would say eagerly, knowing that she was going to tell me the tale all over again.
“Yes, there was something about the round moon that night that forced me out of my sling. I broke through the night and began to walk along the beach, letting the petite waves of the dark lick my feet. I walked, not thinking about where I was going, but loving the sound of the junga. I could hear the bearded monkeys following me, rustling the branches of the teak trees as the smaller titi, those little squirrel monkeys, screamed at them from higher up.
“I stopped, staring in wonder at the Stone Sisters rising from the Great Western Water, shimmering with the residue of the waves. Each moment, my feet sank just a little more into the sand, giving me thoughts of the same spell that held the Sisters in place, turning them to stone.
“Just as I was thinking that I should make my way back to the village, I heard something larger moving from the curtain of green. I began to shake, knowing that the big cats of the jungle preferred the taste of young, innocent women.”
“But it wasn’t a jaguar, was it?” I would ask, eyes growing round though I had heard the tale hundreds of times.
“No, it was not, my starlight,” she said, twisting and twisting my hair. “From the junga, there came a god. He was made of sunlight, glowing pale from the moon and smiling, teeth looking like a row of pearls. His hair was the color of the noon sun, thick and wavy and growing on his face as well as his head.
“I knew him for a god right away, and felt my fear trickle away like a tide rolling out. As he made his way to me, I saw that even his eyes were made of the day. They were gold, warm and flowing and staring deep into my soul. They were the same as your eyes, my daughter.”
I would stare at her, letting her drink in the color of my peculiar eyes, amber colored and crystalline, reminding her of this god all those years ago.
“What happened then, anha?”
“He reached out his hands, and I was suddenly in his arms. Palms against my cheeks, he lowered his lips to mine and kissed me. There were no words spoken, only those that were whispered between our two hearts. He spread out the curtain of my hair, and lay me down there in the transient sand. I was the darkness and night, the embodiment of the goddess. He was the gold and light, a god come down from the mountains to find his lost love.”
She would sigh at this point, still twirling my hair, staring into the flames as if she could resurrect her paramour by will alone.
“What then?” I would prompt, snuggling further into her lap.
“Just before first light, when the night birds give way to those that sing for the day, he rose and pulled me up, brushing the sand from the back of my legs and arms. He kissed me again, placing his head to mine and closing his eyes. When he pulled away, he held a piece of the Western Water, strung on a chain of gold. This he gave to me, placing it around my neck as I held up my hair. He tried to leave, put I put a hand to his arm, wanting to give him something in return. I had nothing, being the youngest daughter of my father. Instead, I pinched a lock of my hair from behind my ear and began weaving it into a braid.
“When finished, I cut this newly created rope with his dagger. I plucked up his garments, smooth and cool and unlike anything I have seen before or since, and tied the braid around his waist. He smiled, placing his hand over the knot, then over his heart, then over the jewel he had given to me. Without another sound, he turned back to the junga and disappeared into the vines and ferns.
“I came back to the village and went to the Elders, telling them what had happened. They were, of course, very interested in what I had to say, since a god had chosen me as his wife and I had the necklace to prove it. It soon became apparent that I was going to have a child, and the Elders watched with even more wonder as my belly grew and grew. On the full moons, you would toss and turn inside me, begging for release. Even then you wanted to be out absorbing the life-giving light of the moon!”
Her chuckle was always low and warm. I believe, once, my mother may have laughed with no restraint. But since she had become the mother of a semi-divine child, she was reserved and regal. I still loved the tone of her mirth, a sound born from deep within her.
“Even your birth was momentous. The mountain to the north of our village rumbled and shook, blowing out great gusts of fertile soot that settled around our land. The moment that the smoke stopped, my pains came. I was delirious with the exquisite agony of you making your way into this world. Before I knew what I was doing, I had walked down to the ocean and screamed, begging for help from the goddess.”
“She heard you, didn’t she, anha?”
“Yes, daughter, the goddess in all her empathy and mercy heard me. The waves stopped and the water grew calm, taking some of the hurt from my body and dragging it to the depths. The other women of the village tried to get me back into the hut, but I yelled and told them that only you would dictate your birth. My back and stomach seized and with a mighty crack of my body, you were born into the great Western Water.”
Her eyes would mist over as she looked lovingly at me, the child that had caused her so much physical pain.
“I knew you when I was born,” I would whisper, tracing a pudgy child’s finger along her beautiful face.
“I do not know about other women, but the moment I pulled you from the water, I felt every inch of my self gather in your tiny flower-petal smile. Never had a baby so young smiled so wondrously upon their birth! You never cried, even as your teeth bloomed along your smooth gums…”
“But I would never sleep through the night!” I would protest, drawing another of her lovely chuckles.
“Only on the full moons and still, you never cried. You would gaze out the portal of our hut, giving the Elders much to ponder as you saw first one, then two twelve cycles of the moon. By that time, you were walking and talking as if you had been born doing such. Knowing which plants were safe, wanting to be near the ocean, playing along with the fish and rays which were never frightened by you, they knew you were special.
“The chief requested that the Elders start to teach you the old legends and for the old women to show you which flowers to grind and which roots to dry. You took to it naturally, never having to be told twice what happens when.”
I would smile to myself, knowing that I was loved and respected from a time before I could grasp.
“And now, you have begun having visions, something that will make you even more revered. You, my precious gift from the god of the sun, will change the way we live for years and years to come.”
So it was.
After my tenth year, I began seeing events that had not yet happened. Later that year I began making prophecies, something that the Elders could not believe in one so young. Being a girl, it was even more puzzling to the Elders, who were used to the gods sending them men with special gifts.
It was innocent enough, and at first, I did not pay it much mind.
I would be talking with someone from our tiny village, having a conversation with them about the impending rain or a bird I had seen that day. From no where, I would tell one of the women that she should make haste back to her hut, or I would say that the men should dip their lines in the water.
There was no reason behind it, just words that would be out of my mouth before I could stop them.
But always, always, I would be right.
It was in my twelfth year that the Elders approached my mother with a proposition.
“I do not know why you are asking me,” she said, giving each of them a cup of chicha as they settled around the fire. The strong brew, made of fermented corn mashed and steeped with water and sugar, was only brought out on special occasions.
“Because you are her mother, the one that was chosen by the god all those years ago,” Tehi told her, being the senior member of the Elder council.
“That is true, but she is old enough to make her own decisions. You know how Hatebe is, she stopped looking to me for guidance years ago,” my mother answered, wrapping her long, lean legs around her body and sitting at a respectful distance.
“Even still, Hatebe is a child, and we would need your consent before we would agree to anything further,” Chana answered, sipping the cool drink with delight.
Being the chief’s wife did not mean that one would necessarily be listed among the Elders. But Kuranal’s wife was a healer in her own right, and was much respected in our village.
“What am I being considered for?” I asked, bringing the entire congregation’s attention to my entrance.
Chana smiled at my impertinence. Of course, she herself had nurtured such an attribute, and thought that it showed strength. Lakal, the second most senior on the council was not so amused. He clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth and looked away from my boldness.
“We have come to ask if your mother would consent to dedicate you to the gods and goddesses of our land,” Tehi said, smiling and setting his wooden cup near his crossed leg.
My heart sprinted from my body, causing my mind to go numb. I had seen some of the sacrifices made to the volcano to the north of our village, where the Quepos people lived, in order to appease the gods and keep the running fire from taking over our encampment.
Seeing the look on my face, my mother rose and came to my side, guiding me to the fire and seating me among the wisest of our village.
“No, my starlight, they are not asking you to die for the gods, they are asking you to live for them. Dedicate yourself to the worship of the great ones, heal those that need it, explore your gift of prophecy and help our village grow and prosper,” she clarified for me, smoothing my thick hair behind my ear.
“The Mulebek traders have told us that there are strange people that have come to the land. They clothe themselves in moonlight and have spears made of the same. They have come by way of canoes bigger than the mountains and have begun trading with the tribes by the Eastern Water. We have meditated on the occurrence, and have all come to the conclusion that a great change is coming for our people. We believe that you may be able to help guide us in the coming times, and are asking if you would give yourself to the deities of our people,” Tehi said, cocoa eyes boring into me.
“That sounds the same as what I have been doing for the last few years,” I shrugged, leaning more into my mother’s hand.
“There is more to it than that,” my mother said, wrapping her arm around me.
“Your anha speaks the truth,” Chana told me, reaching out to take my hand. “You will never have your own teccat, instead living in the communal house used by the council. You will become a possession of the entire Brunka people, available to them at all times to assist, heal or educate. You will be exposed to sickness, you may have to go and intervene with these alien people should they make their way to our lands.”
“And you will never know the touch of a man, since your body will belong to the gods,” my mother finished, head dropping to avoid my eyes.
“But, how will I live when I get older? If my fingers are no longer able weave or grind, how will I feed myself?” I thought aloud. Parents cared for their young children, and then the children cared for their elderly parents; that was the way of our people.
“The tribe will be your children, Hatebe. The Brunka will care for you, and will make sure that you are valued until your last breath has returned to the gods and goddesses. You have no need to worry about that,” Chana assured me, releasing my hand to pick up her cup and drink.
“What about my mother? Will I be allowed to assist her with gathering her food and grinding her meal?”
“Yes, my daughter, you will still be allowed to help me, although the tribe will give me assistance when I need it as well. Since you will belong to the tribe, it is up to our people to make sure we are in good health. You and I both,” she told me, a proud smile taking form on her perfectly sculpted, thin lips.
“Then I accept,” I announced, needing to think about it no longer.
“Child, it is not up to you to agree to or deny this request. You are still too young, and we are here formally requesting your mother’s consent,” Lakal said, pointedly insulting me by continuing to look away.
“If that is the case, I would tell you to come back in one year’s time and ask me again, when I have become an adult in the eyes of the Elders. However, if I am old enough to please the gods, I believe I am old enough to make this decision.”
Two or three of the council gasped, clicking their tongues and hissing in disbelief. Chana just smiled, taking another sip of chicha to hide the grin.

A Dreaming Moon by Tami Lynne

EXTRACT FOR
A Dreaming Moon

(Tami Lynne)


Chapter 1

My first memory is of my mother, sitting by our cooking fire and telling me that my body is sacrosanct.
She would sit by the stones, delineating where our life-giving fire was contained, twirling a ribbon of my obsidian-black hair round her fingers while telling me the story of my conception.
“I could not sleep that night. The titi in the trees were calling to each other, begging for someone to come and play with them,” she would begin, smiling down at me, sheltered with my head in her lap.
“And you had to go, didn’t you, anha?” I would say eagerly, knowing that she was going to tell me the tale all over again.
“Yes, there was something about the round moon that night that forced me out of my sling. I broke through the night and began to walk along the beach, letting the petite waves of the dark lick my feet. I walked, not thinking about where I was going, but loving the sound of the junga. I could hear the bearded monkeys following me, rustling the branches of the teak trees as the smaller titi, those little squirrel monkeys, screamed at them from higher up.
“I stopped, staring in wonder at the Stone Sisters rising from the Great Western Water, shimmering with the residue of the waves. Each moment, my feet sank just a little more into the sand, giving me thoughts of the same spell that held the Sisters in place, turning them to stone.
“Just as I was thinking that I should make my way back to the village, I heard something larger moving from the curtain of green. I began to shake, knowing that the big cats of the jungle preferred the taste of young, innocent women.”
“But it wasn’t a jaguar, was it?” I would ask, eyes growing round though I had heard the tale hundreds of times.
“No, it was not, my starlight,” she said, twisting and twisting my hair. “From the junga, there came a god. He was made of sunlight, glowing pale from the moon and smiling, teeth looking like a row of pearls. His hair was the color of the noon sun, thick and wavy and growing on his face as well as his head.
“I knew him for a god right away, and felt my fear trickle away like a tide rolling out. As he made his way to me, I saw that even his eyes were made of the day. They were gold, warm and flowing and staring deep into my soul. They were the same as your eyes, my daughter.”
I would stare at her, letting her drink in the color of my peculiar eyes, amber colored and crystalline, reminding her of this god all those years ago.
“What happened then, anha?”
“He reached out his hands, and I was suddenly in his arms. Palms against my cheeks, he lowered his lips to mine and kissed me. There were no words spoken, only those that were whispered between our two hearts. He spread out the curtain of my hair, and lay me down there in the transient sand. I was the darkness and night, the embodiment of the goddess. He was the gold and light, a god come down from the mountains to find his lost love.”
She would sigh at this point, still twirling my hair, staring into the flames as if she could resurrect her paramour by will alone.
“What then?” I would prompt, snuggling further into her lap.
“Just before first light, when the night birds give way to those that sing for the day, he rose and pulled me up, brushing the sand from the back of my legs and arms. He kissed me again, placing his head to mine and closing his eyes. When he pulled away, he held a piece of the Western Water, strung on a chain of gold. This he gave to me, placing it around my neck as I held up my hair. He tried to leave, put I put a hand to his arm, wanting to give him something in return. I had nothing, being the youngest daughter of my father. Instead, I pinched a lock of my hair from behind my ear and began weaving it into a braid.
“When finished, I cut this newly created rope with his dagger. I plucked up his garments, smooth and cool and unlike anything I have seen before or since, and tied the braid around his waist. He smiled, placing his hand over the knot, then over his heart, then over the jewel he had given to me. Without another sound, he turned back to the junga and disappeared into the vines and ferns.
“I came back to the village and went to the Elders, telling them what had happened. They were, of course, very interested in what I had to say, since a god had chosen me as his wife and I had the necklace to prove it. It soon became apparent that I was going to have a child, and the Elders watched with even more wonder as my belly grew and grew. On the full moons, you would toss and turn inside me, begging for release. Even then you wanted to be out absorbing the life-giving light of the moon!”
Her chuckle was always low and warm. I believe, once, my mother may have laughed with no restraint. But since she had become the mother of a semi-divine child, she was reserved and regal. I still loved the tone of her mirth, a sound born from deep within her.
“Even your birth was momentous. The mountain to the north of our village rumbled and shook, blowing out great gusts of fertile soot that settled around our land. The moment that the smoke stopped, my pains came. I was delirious with the exquisite agony of you making your way into this world. Before I knew what I was doing, I had walked down to the ocean and screamed, begging for help from the goddess.”
“She heard you, didn’t she, anha?”
“Yes, daughter, the goddess in all her empathy and mercy heard me. The waves stopped and the water grew calm, taking some of the hurt from my body and dragging it to the depths. The other women of the village tried to get me back into the hut, but I yelled and told them that only you would dictate your birth. My back and stomach seized and with a mighty crack of my body, you were born into the great Western Water.”
Her eyes would mist over as she looked lovingly at me, the child that had caused her so much physical pain.
“I knew you when I was born,” I would whisper, tracing a pudgy child’s finger along her beautiful face.
“I do not know about other women, but the moment I pulled you from the water, I felt every inch of my self gather in your tiny flower-petal smile. Never had a baby so young smiled so wondrously upon their birth! You never cried, even as your teeth bloomed along your smooth gums…”
“But I would never sleep through the night!” I would protest, drawing another of her lovely chuckles.
“Only on the full moons and still, you never cried. You would gaze out the portal of our hut, giving the Elders much to ponder as you saw first one, then two twelve cycles of the moon. By that time, you were walking and talking as if you had been born doing such. Knowing which plants were safe, wanting to be near the ocean, playing along with the fish and rays which were never frightened by you, they knew you were special.
“The chief requested that the Elders start to teach you the old legends and for the old women to show you which flowers to grind and which roots to dry. You took to it naturally, never having to be told twice what happens when.”
I would smile to myself, knowing that I was loved and respected from a time before I could grasp.
“And now, you have begun having visions, something that will make you even more revered. You, my precious gift from the god of the sun, will change the way we live for years and years to come.”
So it was.
After my tenth year, I began seeing events that had not yet happened. Later that year I began making prophecies, something that the Elders could not believe in one so young. Being a girl, it was even more puzzling to the Elders, who were used to the gods sending them men with special gifts.
It was innocent enough, and at first, I did not pay it much mind.
I would be talking with someone from our tiny village, having a conversation with them about the impending rain or a bird I had seen that day. From no where, I would tell one of the women that she should make haste back to her hut, or I would say that the men should dip their lines in the water.
There was no reason behind it, just words that would be out of my mouth before I could stop them.
But always, always, I would be right.
It was in my twelfth year that the Elders approached my mother with a proposition.
“I do not know why you are asking me,” she said, giving each of them a cup of chicha as they settled around the fire. The strong brew, made of fermented corn mashed and steeped with water and sugar, was only brought out on special occasions.
“Because you are her mother, the one that was chosen by the god all those years ago,” Tehi told her, being the senior member of the Elder council.
“That is true, but she is old enough to make her own decisions. You know how Hatebe is, she stopped looking to me for guidance years ago,” my mother answered, wrapping her long, lean legs around her body and sitting at a respectful distance.
“Even still, Hatebe is a child, and we would need your consent before we would agree to anything further,” Chana answered, sipping the cool drink with delight.
Being the chief’s wife did not mean that one would necessarily be listed among the Elders. But Kuranal’s wife was a healer in her own right, and was much respected in our village.
“What am I being considered for?” I asked, bringing the entire congregation’s attention to my entrance.
Chana smiled at my impertinence. Of course, she herself had nurtured such an attribute, and thought that it showed strength. Lakal, the second most senior on the council was not so amused. He clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth and looked away from my boldness.
“We have come to ask if your mother would consent to dedicate you to the gods and goddesses of our land,” Tehi said, smiling and setting his wooden cup near his crossed leg.
My heart sprinted from my body, causing my mind to go numb. I had seen some of the sacrifices made to the volcano to the north of our village, where the Quepos people lived, in order to appease the gods and keep the running fire from taking over our encampment.
Seeing the look on my face, my mother rose and came to my side, guiding me to the fire and seating me among the wisest of our village.
“No, my starlight, they are not asking you to die for the gods, they are asking you to live for them. Dedicate yourself to the worship of the great ones, heal those that need it, explore your gift of prophecy and help our village grow and prosper,” she clarified for me, smoothing my thick hair behind my ear.
“The Mulebek traders have told us that there are strange people that have come to the land. They clothe themselves in moonlight and have spears made of the same. They have come by way of canoes bigger than the mountains and have begun trading with the tribes by the Eastern Water. We have meditated on the occurrence, and have all come to the conclusion that a great change is coming for our people. We believe that you may be able to help guide us in the coming times, and are asking if you would give yourself to the deities of our people,” Tehi said, cocoa eyes boring into me.
“That sounds the same as what I have been doing for the last few years,” I shrugged, leaning more into my mother’s hand.
“There is more to it than that,” my mother said, wrapping her arm around me.
“Your anha speaks the truth,” Chana told me, reaching out to take my hand. “You will never have your own teccat, instead living in the communal house used by the council. You will become a possession of the entire Brunka people, available to them at all times to assist, heal or educate. You will be exposed to sickness, you may have to go and intervene with these alien people should they make their way to our lands.”
“And you will never know the touch of a man, since your body will belong to the gods,” my mother finished, head dropping to avoid my eyes.
“But, how will I live when I get older? If my fingers are no longer able weave or grind, how will I feed myself?” I thought aloud. Parents cared for their young children, and then the children cared for their elderly parents; that was the way of our people.
“The tribe will be your children, Hatebe. The Brunka will care for you, and will make sure that you are valued until your last breath has returned to the gods and goddesses. You have no need to worry about that,” Chana assured me, releasing my hand to pick up her cup and drink.
“What about my mother? Will I be allowed to assist her with gathering her food and grinding her meal?”
“Yes, my daughter, you will still be allowed to help me, although the tribe will give me assistance when I need it as well. Since you will belong to the tribe, it is up to our people to make sure we are in good health. You and I both,” she told me, a proud smile taking form on her perfectly sculpted, thin lips.
“Then I accept,” I announced, needing to think about it no longer.
“Child, it is not up to you to agree to or deny this request. You are still too young, and we are here formally requesting your mother’s consent,” Lakal said, pointedly insulting me by continuing to look away.
“If that is the case, I would tell you to come back in one year’s time and ask me again, when I have become an adult in the eyes of the Elders. However, if I am old enough to please the gods, I believe I am old enough to make this decision.”
Two or three of the council gasped, clicking their tongues and hissing in disbelief. Chana just smiled, taking another sip of chicha to hide the grin.

EXTRACT FOR
A Dreaming Moon

(Tami Lynne)


Chapter 1

My first memory is of my mother, sitting by our cooking fire and telling me that my body is sacrosanct.
She would sit by the stones, delineating where our life-giving fire was contained, twirling a ribbon of my obsidian-black hair round her fingers while telling me the story of my conception.
“I could not sleep that night. The titi in the trees were calling to each other, begging for someone to come and play with them,” she would begin, smiling down at me, sheltered with my head in her lap.
“And you had to go, didn’t you, anha?” I would say eagerly, knowing that she was going to tell me the tale all over again.
“Yes, there was something about the round moon that night that forced me out of my sling. I broke through the night and began to walk along the beach, letting the petite waves of the dark lick my feet. I walked, not thinking about where I was going, but loving the sound of the junga. I could hear the bearded monkeys following me, rustling the branches of the teak trees as the smaller titi, those little squirrel monkeys, screamed at them from higher up.
“I stopped, staring in wonder at the Stone Sisters rising from the Great Western Water, shimmering with the residue of the waves. Each moment, my feet sank just a little more into the sand, giving me thoughts of the same spell that held the Sisters in place, turning them to stone.
“Just as I was thinking that I should make my way back to the village, I heard something larger moving from the curtain of green. I began to shake, knowing that the big cats of the jungle preferred the taste of young, innocent women.”
“But it wasn’t a jaguar, was it?” I would ask, eyes growing round though I had heard the tale hundreds of times.
“No, it was not, my starlight,” she said, twisting and twisting my hair. “From the junga, there came a god. He was made of sunlight, glowing pale from the moon and smiling, teeth looking like a row of pearls. His hair was the color of the noon sun, thick and wavy and growing on his face as well as his head.
“I knew him for a god right away, and felt my fear trickle away like a tide rolling out. As he made his way to me, I saw that even his eyes were made of the day. They were gold, warm and flowing and staring deep into my soul. They were the same as your eyes, my daughter.”
I would stare at her, letting her drink in the color of my peculiar eyes, amber colored and crystalline, reminding her of this god all those years ago.
“What happened then, anha?”
“He reached out his hands, and I was suddenly in his arms. Palms against my cheeks, he lowered his lips to mine and kissed me. There were no words spoken, only those that were whispered between our two hearts. He spread out the curtain of my hair, and lay me down there in the transient sand. I was the darkness and night, the embodiment of the goddess. He was the gold and light, a god come down from the mountains to find his lost love.”
She would sigh at this point, still twirling my hair, staring into the flames as if she could resurrect her paramour by will alone.
“What then?” I would prompt, snuggling further into her lap.
“Just before first light, when the night birds give way to those that sing for the day, he rose and pulled me up, brushing the sand from the back of my legs and arms. He kissed me again, placing his head to mine and closing his eyes. When he pulled away, he held a piece of the Western Water, strung on a chain of gold. This he gave to me, placing it around my neck as I held up my hair. He tried to leave, put I put a hand to his arm, wanting to give him something in return. I had nothing, being the youngest daughter of my father. Instead, I pinched a lock of my hair from behind my ear and began weaving it into a braid.
“When finished, I cut this newly created rope with his dagger. I plucked up his garments, smooth and cool and unlike anything I have seen before or since, and tied the braid around his waist. He smiled, placing his hand over the knot, then over his heart, then over the jewel he had given to me. Without another sound, he turned back to the junga and disappeared into the vines and ferns.
“I came back to the village and went to the Elders, telling them what had happened. They were, of course, very interested in what I had to say, since a god had chosen me as his wife and I had the necklace to prove it. It soon became apparent that I was going to have a child, and the Elders watched with even more wonder as my belly grew and grew. On the full moons, you would toss and turn inside me, begging for release. Even then you wanted to be out absorbing the life-giving light of the moon!”
Her chuckle was always low and warm. I believe, once, my mother may have laughed with no restraint. But since she had become the mother of a semi-divine child, she was reserved and regal. I still loved the tone of her mirth, a sound born from deep within her.
“Even your birth was momentous. The mountain to the north of our village rumbled and shook, blowing out great gusts of fertile soot that settled around our land. The moment that the smoke stopped, my pains came. I was delirious with the exquisite agony of you making your way into this world. Before I knew what I was doing, I had walked down to the ocean and screamed, begging for help from the goddess.”
“She heard you, didn’t she, anha?”
“Yes, daughter, the goddess in all her empathy and mercy heard me. The waves stopped and the water grew calm, taking some of the hurt from my body and dragging it to the depths. The other women of the village tried to get me back into the hut, but I yelled and told them that only you would dictate your birth. My back and stomach seized and with a mighty crack of my body, you were born into the great Western Water.”
Her eyes would mist over as she looked lovingly at me, the child that had caused her so much physical pain.
“I knew you when I was born,” I would whisper, tracing a pudgy child’s finger along her beautiful face.
“I do not know about other women, but the moment I pulled you from the water, I felt every inch of my self gather in your tiny flower-petal smile. Never had a baby so young smiled so wondrously upon their birth! You never cried, even as your teeth bloomed along your smooth gums…”
“But I would never sleep through the night!” I would protest, drawing another of her lovely chuckles.
“Only on the full moons and still, you never cried. You would gaze out the portal of our hut, giving the Elders much to ponder as you saw first one, then two twelve cycles of the moon. By that time, you were walking and talking as if you had been born doing such. Knowing which plants were safe, wanting to be near the ocean, playing along with the fish and rays which were never frightened by you, they knew you were special.
“The chief requested that the Elders start to teach you the old legends and for the old women to show you which flowers to grind and which roots to dry. You took to it naturally, never having to be told twice what happens when.”
I would smile to myself, knowing that I was loved and respected from a time before I could grasp.
“And now, you have begun having visions, something that will make you even more revered. You, my precious gift from the god of the sun, will change the way we live for years and years to come.”
So it was.
After my tenth year, I began seeing events that had not yet happened. Later that year I began making prophecies, something that the Elders could not believe in one so young. Being a girl, it was even more puzzling to the Elders, who were used to the gods sending them men with special gifts.
It was innocent enough, and at first, I did not pay it much mind.
I would be talking with someone from our tiny village, having a conversation with them about the impending rain or a bird I had seen that day. From no where, I would tell one of the women that she should make haste back to her hut, or I would say that the men should dip their lines in the water.
There was no reason behind it, just words that would be out of my mouth before I could stop them.
But always, always, I would be right.
It was in my twelfth year that the Elders approached my mother with a proposition.
“I do not know why you are asking me,” she said, giving each of them a cup of chicha as they settled around the fire. The strong brew, made of fermented corn mashed and steeped with water and sugar, was only brought out on special occasions.
“Because you are her mother, the one that was chosen by the god all those years ago,” Tehi told her, being the senior member of the Elder council.
“That is true, but she is old enough to make her own decisions. You know how Hatebe is, she stopped looking to me for guidance years ago,” my mother answered, wrapping her long, lean legs around her body and sitting at a respectful distance.
“Even still, Hatebe is a child, and we would need your consent before we would agree to anything further,” Chana answered, sipping the cool drink with delight.
Being the chief’s wife did not mean that one would necessarily be listed among the Elders. But Kuranal’s wife was a healer in her own right, and was much respected in our village.
“What am I being considered for?” I asked, bringing the entire congregation’s attention to my entrance.
Chana smiled at my impertinence. Of course, she herself had nurtured such an attribute, and thought that it showed strength. Lakal, the second most senior on the council was not so amused. He clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth and looked away from my boldness.
“We have come to ask if your mother would consent to dedicate you to the gods and goddesses of our land,” Tehi said, smiling and setting his wooden cup near his crossed leg.
My heart sprinted from my body, causing my mind to go numb. I had seen some of the sacrifices made to the volcano to the north of our village, where the Quepos people lived, in order to appease the gods and keep the running fire from taking over our encampment.
Seeing the look on my face, my mother rose and came to my side, guiding me to the fire and seating me among the wisest of our village.
“No, my starlight, they are not asking you to die for the gods, they are asking you to live for them. Dedicate yourself to the worship of the great ones, heal those that need it, explore your gift of prophecy and help our village grow and prosper,” she clarified for me, smoothing my thick hair behind my ear.
“The Mulebek traders have told us that there are strange people that have come to the land. They clothe themselves in moonlight and have spears made of the same. They have come by way of canoes bigger than the mountains and have begun trading with the tribes by the Eastern Water. We have meditated on the occurrence, and have all come to the conclusion that a great change is coming for our people. We believe that you may be able to help guide us in the coming times, and are asking if you would give yourself to the deities of our people,” Tehi said, cocoa eyes boring into me.
“That sounds the same as what I have been doing for the last few years,” I shrugged, leaning more into my mother’s hand.
“There is more to it than that,” my mother said, wrapping her arm around me.
“Your anha speaks the truth,” Chana told me, reaching out to take my hand. “You will never have your own teccat, instead living in the communal house used by the council. You will become a possession of the entire Brunka people, available to them at all times to assist, heal or educate. You will be exposed to sickness, you may have to go and intervene with these alien people should they make their way to our lands.”
“And you will never know the touch of a man, since your body will belong to the gods,” my mother finished, head dropping to avoid my eyes.
“But, how will I live when I get older? If my fingers are no longer able weave or grind, how will I feed myself?” I thought aloud. Parents cared for their young children, and then the children cared for their elderly parents; that was the way of our people.
“The tribe will be your children, Hatebe. The Brunka will care for you, and will make sure that you are valued until your last breath has returned to the gods and goddesses. You have no need to worry about that,” Chana assured me, releasing my hand to pick up her cup and drink.
“What about my mother? Will I be allowed to assist her with gathering her food and grinding her meal?”
“Yes, my daughter, you will still be allowed to help me, although the tribe will give me assistance when I need it as well. Since you will belong to the tribe, it is up to our people to make sure we are in good health. You and I both,” she told me, a proud smile taking form on her perfectly sculpted, thin lips.
“Then I accept,” I announced, needing to think about it no longer.
“Child, it is not up to you to agree to or deny this request. You are still too young, and we are here formally requesting your mother’s consent,” Lakal said, pointedly insulting me by continuing to look away.
“If that is the case, I would tell you to come back in one year’s time and ask me again, when I have become an adult in the eyes of the Elders. However, if I am old enough to please the gods, I believe I am old enough to make this decision.”
Two or three of the council gasped, clicking their tongues and hissing in disbelief. Chana just smiled, taking another sip of chicha to hide the grin.