Nanowrimo – 2019

Nanowrimo – 2019

As it would turn out, I did not have as much luck as I would have hoped. My mother was sitting at the table holding a mug of steaming tea while Lotus stood over a brewing pot, talking animatedly about recent dramas. Apparently our neighbors were expecting a third child. And little Laney from the north side had just gotten over a terrible cold.

I stood by the door, watching Lotus move her hands as she talked. It was hard not to notice the wrinkles and scars she carried all over. Her stark white hair was braided over one shoulder, she kept flicking it away from the flames as she added ingredients to the stew. When she turned around, she caught me. A warm smile slipped onto her face and she nodded to my mother. “It seems Raine has returned from her stroll,” even her voice was warm, it was old and welcoming.

My mother jumped and turned in her chair, staring at me with wide eyes. “Raine! Don’t you ever do that to me again! I thought I had lost you too,” her voice broke as she struggled to stand up.

I felt my heart clench at her words. I hadn’t even considered her to take it that way. “Momma, I am not Drew. I won’t disappear. I was angry. I couldn’t sleep. If I stayed, I thought we were going to fight, so I thought it would be best to take a walk. And then I came across a deer. I tracked it for a while. Before I knew it, it was sun high and Kreek stumbled into me.”

I walked towards her and wrapped her into my arms. I felt her clutch at my shirt, felt her wet tears soak through. “I was so scared, mi hija. So scared. I didn’t know. I’m sorry. Never take a title, I don’t care. We can manage. We always do. Never do something your heart does not sing for.”

Shushing her, I started to murmur chants of peace and calmness. Eventually her shoulders slumped and her breathing evened out. I led her over to her bed and helped her lay down. Without even realizing it, I began to tuck her in, the way she did to me when I was sick and little. Staring at her peaceful face, I brushed back her hair. The messy red curls were back in a rats nest. It was thoroughly knotted. It matched the dark circles that lined her eyes. The longer I looked, the worse I felt.

Standing, I turned to face Lotus. Immediately, my head dropped and my right palm touched my fisted left. A sign of respect to my leader. She laughed and swatted my hands away. “Dear Raina, how many times must I tell you to knock it off?”

“It’s a way of showing you my respect, Sarin.”

“We’re alone. I won’t stand for it. And call me Lotus, or else I’m going to get mean,” she said with a smile. At this, I let out a laugh. She swatted me again and when my mother started to stir, she led me outside. The bright sun blinded me for a moment before my eyes adjusted. Lotus was holding a hand out to me. “Help an old woman walk home? I live far and I’m not sure I’ll be able to hand the mud spots.”

“I should start swatting you around when you talk like that,” I said accepting her arm. “You’re the farthest thing from old.”

“My hair is white, I carry wrinkles, my back hurts when I awake. I am old, child. Let me have my fun, mocking it.”

“If you insist, but what mud? The ground is dry, we haven’t had a rain in days. The only way we have mud is if someone spilled water from a bucket,” I chuckled at her. She laughed with me, with her free hand she waved to the people who watched us walk by.

The clan was busy with people talking and children playing in the grass. Huts had smoke rising faintly from them. It was unusually busy. But everywhere we went, people stopped what they were doing to stare at us with wide eyes. Their auras were bursting with excitement. Something was happening. 
The village was set up with a massive clearing at the center. At four of the edges stood four willows. One for each directions. North, East, South and West. Their roots ran deep and had been there for countless generations. The Sarin’s home sat entangled with the South Willow, while the Kiro stood just behind the North Willow. At the center was a dirt pit, surrounded with stone for every hour of a day.

Everywhere else was open. Big enough for the entire village to sit in at once. Clan ceremonies were done here, as were meetings to inform all of the clan. Four parties were held here yearly as well. The Spring Equinox, the Summer Solstice, the Fall Equinox, and the Winter Solstice. A ceremony was given at each of these before a party would start. And it would last until dawn. Different bands would play; people would dance, laugh, drink, and have fun. It was a time when almost anything could happen.

“Raina, I’m afraid I do have something important to talk to you about,” Lotus said just before she opened her door and stepped inside.

“You can talk to me about anything,” walking in behind her, I closed the door and followed her to the fire pit at the center of the house. I sat crossed legged as I watched her hands skillfully work up a blaze.

“I joke and poke fun at my age, but in truth I am getting old,” her voice grew serious, her face ominous. My stomach started to roll, nerves filled me.

Something seemed wrong. She began to look defeated. I tried to find the words to respond with, but they all but left me.

Thankfully she started talking again, “For over a year now, I have sought you out. I have started to teach you the ways of the Sarin. I know at times you have wondered if it was because of your brother or father, that I started to talk to you. But in truth I have been watching you since you were born. Before that even. It is a sense a Sarin has. Feeling the next Dacara. I knew you were coming. And now on the days before you turn sixteen, I have to ask you a question I should have asked long ago. But first, understand, you may have been chosen by the spirits to be the next Dacara, but there is no guarantee that you will become the next Sarin. The path of the Dacara is a hard one, not many survive and those that do have had to sacrifice greatly. They must learn things that no one wants to hear. And be willing to protect the clan. This is why I have put off asking you to be initiated. It is no small thing. And I didn’t want to scare you off, until you knew the joy of healing. Of how much you have to give.

“Being the Dacara does not have to be all bad. You’ve felt some of what it is like. Helping others. I know you love that feeling…And I can help you with the things you see. The things you dream. I know what you see, I can help you not be afraid. The auras, they are normal for you, but you can do so much more with training. You can manipulate them. Look past them, touch the hurt. Bring energy. You could be a leader for this clan. I know you’re not concerned with titles, but regardless with this you will gain one,” sometime during her talk, she had sat down across from me. The fire flickered between us.

“So choose your fate.”

My eyes closed. I took a deep breath. I didn’t want to do it. I did want to do it. There were answers here. But if I joined, I was in it for life. There would be no escape. I would be bound as Dacara and then as Sarin, if I survived that long. But it called to me. It always had. There was only ever one choice. My future had been chosen long before I was born. My ancestors had set me on my path. Choking back my fear, I answered in a steady voice, “I want to be the next Dacara.”

Lotus smiled gently, but her face clouded with grief. My heart froze for a moment before it started its steady rhythm. It was the right choice. It was the only choice. She held her hands out from around the fire. I placed mine in hers. She started to chant. After a moment I recognized it as a prayer of hope. I stared into her eyes as I took up the chant myself.

“There is much to be done.”