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Claywoman

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A Ghostly Tale...Part IV...
By Claywoman
Tuesday, March 26, 2002



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A GHOSTLY TALE…PART V

She didn't know how to answer her mother, what did she know of babies? She herself was an only child so she had no knowledge of newborn babes since they were kept from view for the first two months of life. Looking down at the face of her newly born daughter, she gathered her thoughts before speaking.

"Maybe because she is born in the warmth of the sun instead of the dark of the night she looks so pale."

Her mother looked away at this statement knowing it was not true but tribal ethics forbid her from asking more. Turning to leave this small abode and letting the mother and child be together to bond, told her daughter to lie still and rest, food would be provided. As an afterthought, she told her she'd tell the new father of his daughter. She also told the young woman of the disease outside her door and warned her about letting anyone in her house. Then she left to go and prepare food for her daughter and to prepare food for newly created motherless homes. She was near exhaustion from tending to the ill and tending her daughter but she knew she must continue until these days of sadness passed. In a few days, her daughter would be strong enough to prepare her own food once more. Her young husband would not only hunt for her family but for his own. He was still forbidden from seeing his wife for until the bleeding stopped, she was still too powerful to be within his sight.

The newly made grandmother joined the women still able to walk for their morning ablutions but the laughter and joy was missing from the gathering while each talked of who'd died during that night of birth. For the first time the new grandmother felt her age, her bones aching with the untold duties that lay ahead. The women Shamans bore the brunt of the tending of the ill and so far few of them had died. But age old remedies no longer worked, the ceremonies to rid the body of demons no longer worked, and the herbs for the lowering of fevers no longer worked. All they could do was comfort and give hope. Every morning there was another cry of grief from some home. The disease progressed relentlessly.

In the little abode of joy, the new mother looked at her child's body and knew whose seed had found its way to the baby. What was she going to do now? Her daughter's fat little body squirmed to find again the nipple that gave her life; in her newborn search, she opened her eyes and briefly looked at her mother with milky-blue eyes. A small cry escaped her mother's lips and frightened the child. Both cried for a long time, one in guilt and the other from the startling. One was placated with food, the other with resolve.

Her daughter was the spawn of the stranger and she knew it, she also knew there were light-skinned children born of dark-skinned parents. These children became the shunned ones until they proved themselves worthy of acceptance. She would have to continue to claim innocence and just pretend this was one of the Creator's mysteries. She held her child close to her body and wept, not from grief, but from the joy that this perfect child, this child of light came from her body. She needed no time to bond, they were bonded together against the world for life. When her mother finally brought food for her to eat, the babe was covered in light blankets which made her skin seem darker. The child slept while mother and daughter talked about the future.
"My child, there is so much sickness outside your home that I fear you leaving this place. I've tended the ill but I wash before I come to you but I fear I will bring some hidden demon in here with me so I will place your food outside your door rather then bring it in here. leave the soiled tufts outside the door and I will bring you more each day. If you, or your child, become ill, cry out with a trill and I will come immediately. I fear for both of you because right now you are weak and the demon's prey upon the weak. I will say the prayers for both of you to keep you from harm."

"Mother, please keep yourself well! I hear the cries even in here and I'm afraid for you! Where did this all come from?" Knowing she asked a question, the woman dropped her eyes in supplication. Her mother answered without acknowledging the fact her daughter asked a direct question,

"Some say the stranger brought this illness." she said in weariness, "I don't know that for a fact, but the illness did strike after he was here among us. I've got to go now, do you remember Yellow Dawn? She started talking about the spirits visiting her, she talked of a child born of evil then she fell into the sleep of dying. Today her body is covered with the red spots of death. She is screaming for water to quench her thirst yet she cannot drink. She is dying and her young husband is sacrificing himself with the cutting. His arms are striped and so is his chest and legs. But his wife is slipping even as we speak, there is no hope. I must leave you now, I don't want to give you and my first grandchild this horrible disease!"

With that her mother got wearily to her feet and left for the last time, this small home of safety. Left alone once more the new mother gave into the thoughts within her head, the thoughts she'd tried to forget. I did this to my People, his desire of me brought him to our village! Why? Where did he see me? Was it during bathing time when I splashed water with the children? Was it during gathering time when I was with my family? Where? That one night of hurt and passion, that one night I knew was wrong, why did I let it happen? Now I have this child, this precious child and now this child has to pay for my unholy union.

The fright was real, if this became knowledge if they knew what happened, they would take she and her child out to the desert and destroy them both! She knew she had to keep this secret, she must protect her child. Were the stories true ? Her child was so fair and wonderful, there could be no evil within her, could there?

In the real world, the world beyond her dreams, the sun was casting its first shadows, its rays rising above the mountains painting the canyon in bright orange of rebirth. The storm of the night before became a memory and the day dawned with hope. The young woman and her child roused from their dreams. Tears stained the young mother's face when she awoke from her nightmares to a new day of brightness. The babe, unwilling to let go of the sleep protested slightly and gently drifted back into sweet slumber while her mother rose from their bed of straw and hardened earth. She looked at the ashes on the hearth and the sleeping form of her child and walked slowly out of the adobe. She hurried down the ladder to the ground below and quickly walked to the soothing waters of the small stream. She needed to shake off the dreams of the night to cope with the survival of the day.

Removing her clothing, she bathed herself clean missing the laughter that accompanied such activities in the past. Quickly she accomplished her mission and then set out for what used to be the corn fields in search of something to eat. Perhaps one or two stalks of corn lived long enough to grow enough corn to feed them. Amongst the rows of dead corn plants, she found her quest, a small patch of growing corn, dried yet there were ears ready for plucking. True, the ears were worm eaten, but there was enough for a small meal. She also observed a covey of land birds and made a mental note to construct a small lair; with any luck, she and her child would have meat for supper. She hurried back up the ladder to her child, afraid her child would try and wander in an unfamiliar space. In the light of day she saw the village much as it was when she left.

True, vines now grew but in the heat of the summer coming, the vines would die out and then the green would disappear. In the daylight the cliff homes didn't look as foreboding as they did at night. There was almost a comforting feeling to be back in familiar surroundings after she'd been gone for so long. Although it was only months, it seemed like years; she'd traveled so far and ridden on roads never seen before. Her journeys took her to places her People had never heard of, and seen People not unlike her own but with customs and languages very different from her own. In the short period of under a year, she was so alone, and she only met strangers. She then felt her own weariness, a part of herself that wanted to lie down not to get up again. But she had to live, she had a child; a child born out of coupling forbidden but a child who filled her life with joy.

She searched the village and gathered up pots and charcoal so they may stay dry and warm for this is the season of the cold wet. She listened for the sounds of her child's awakening, satisfied her child still slept, she continued her search for food. She went to the community's Kiva to search for any food stores left behind when the others left. She knew if strangers visited, they may have taken the food if they'd known what the round building sunk into the depths of the cliff meant. When she opened the doors of the cellar-like building, she was met with the dank, musty smell of disuse. As she climbed into its darkness, her eyes adjusted to its dimness and she could look around for something, anything to eat. She found a treasure trove, enough dried corn to carry her and her child through many weeks if they ate sparingly. When she satisfied herself of that fact, she climbed out of that place and hurried to her home.

She scrapped the corn off the cob and listened to its hard tatting as it hit the bottom of her grinding stone. She took up a found pestle and ground the corn with the wrist movements so often used in the past. Doing a familiar task and once the rhythm was established she took her eyes off her work and looked about the familiar surroundings. In the midst of her daydreams, she pictured the village alive as it was just a few short months ago. Children again ran and played in her mind, very young girls sat close to their mothers and mimicked the grinding motions with small rocks and little containers. Every so often without taking pause in their speech, the mother's would give these girls a morsel or two of corn to practice grinding. It was a thing done by all since the beginning of time. From this small practice, the children gained the strength and skills they'd need when they themselves had a family. When her grinding was complete, she took the flour and dipped in some water. She'd built a small fire earlier before she started grinding and laid in some flat rocks on which she'd cook the meal cakes. She kept a small amount of the flour coarser to make a thin gruel for her child. Her child was getting to the age of wanting food to eat and the gruel was thin enough for her to swallow; this with her breast milk would be her child's diet until old enough and with enough teeth to chew other foods. By now she heard the voice of her child cooing within her old home. she hurriedly rose and went to her. This child was so beautiful!

In the past few month she'd grown so much but was still baby enough to have the glow all baby's so at that age. She seldom cried but she had a solemn look in her eyes. She could also break out in an infectious laughter that rivaled the bubbling of the brook as it splashed over rocks in its hurry. Her eyes changed from blue but were a lighter shade of brown then her own; they were the color of the copper in the hills, her hair was black but not the black of a raven's wing, but the dark, dark brown of the earth deep within the forest. Her cheeks were a vivid pink and in her excitement would become pinker. Her hands were still baby-chubby and grasp at anything. She smiled with a four-tooth smile and you never knew until she bit you, that she cut through a tooth. Her skin was lighter then her own and she burned easily in the sun so her mother kept a thin coat of mud on her skin to protect it from the rays. The baby still unnamed was her mother's joy, her mother's only reason for life. She was unnamed because either everyone who needed to be at the naming was either dead or left in the great migration. This was the child born of an evil coupling yet loved because of that event.

After eating, both the mother and child played and wandered around the cliff homes, the child in great discovery and the mother searching for the tools for survival. Their searching left both ready for sleep since it had been a long journey and the sun ran across the sky in a hurry leaving the cliff dwelling bathed in early twilight. After they supped on their meager diet, they again curled on their bed of straw. The young mother again covered them both and they drifted off into a dreamless sleep, at least one did.

She was remembering the touch of her husband when she and the baby could finally leave their alone time. the look on his face when he gazed upon their child for the first time. he was pleased at the size of their child, she was a chubby baby, and then he noticed her strangely colored eyes; brown but still with flecks of blue. He noticed the color of the child's skin and he drew a breath inward, knowing this child could not be his. But if this child was not his, who's was it? Who'd lain with his wife before him? Who planted the seed within and robbed him of his own fatherhood. He turned abruptly and left the adobe, he left a broken hearted man knowing his wife had known another and instead of coming to him as a virginal woman, she came to him carrying another's seed. How could he stay?

Continued in Part V…


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Reviewed by Judith Bailey 6/17/2003
While the moving from time to time was at first confusing, it is fairly easy to know which time is being told. It sounds as though you are 'remembering' it yourself... I like it.
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 6/16/2003
keep writing!!
Reviewed by Amor Sabor 6/30/2002
Again ..coming along very nicely...still gaining momentum...although the moment of recognition (father regarding child) was a bit short in contrast to the details preceding it
Reviewed by Poop Monkey 5/30/2002
Very detailed and interesting. I found the ending of this part just a tad confusing.
Reviewed by James Samdavid1 4/3/2002
Told in the finest detail. Easy to follow, for me and I liked it very much. Even learned a few things. Good job. Lady Clay..SD1
Reviewed by Lawrance Lux 3/27/2002
Still a great tale!
Reviewed by Roger Nelson 3/27/2002
Great tale telling Claywoman!
I await Part V.


Return of the Canoe Societies: Second Edition by Rosemary Patterson

A riveting Literary History and adventure novel that celebrates the cultural resurgence of Coastal First Nations peoples...  
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Return of the Canoe Societies: Second Edition by Rosemary Patterson

A riveting Literary History and adventure novel that celebrates the cultural resurgence of Coastal First Nations peoples...  
Featured BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members

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