“Because it is the way of nature that everything lives and so everything must die.” But is that
the truth? Who can say why anything happens? Pain and pleasure, good and evil, birth and
death. Is it not all just a jumbled mess that women and men have to fight their way through? Is
this what the gods meant to create?
I don’t answer him.
His voice mocks me. “I knew you were a liar. I had hoped to be wrong, though. I thought
the Kalip Women were supposed to tell the truth.”
There. There is my fire come back to me, deep in my belly. The muscles of my back move
and bunch, sharp points against my red cape, as I settle myself deeper into my chair. Breathing
and rocking. Back and forth. In and out.
“You know nothing of the Kalip Women. Do not test me.”
His smile flares back up, the heat of a sun about to explode. “I know more than you can
possible know.” And with that, he backs away and vanishes.
I do not take my place in the rocking chair at the top of the stone steps again for a week.
Eight moons bleeding away little by little. Seven new suns burning through the mist, calling to
me. I huddle next to the door of the big stone house by the river, hearing people approach the
stone steps. Questions with no answer to be had, not from me. I can hear the intrusion, the
resentment, in their voices because I am not where they expect me to be. I have always been
I am not there.
I have no more answers.
I do not know where I am. Where I belong.
Everything I have ever known, or thought I knew, disappeared when the man with the dead
My belly fire no longer burns, but I am not cold. I cannot say I am empty, for doesn’t
emptiness have its own pull, its own magic? I have none of that.
What am I going to do tomorrow? I cannot hide forever. And what am I hiding from
The door clicks shut behind me as I gaze out into the early morning mist, swirling with
potential, roiling with hope. Everywhere there is a slight green hue to the world and the sun
takes shelter behind some clouds as a low rumble of thunder announces its presence.
Before I can even reach my rocking chair, his voice comes to me, unseen, unbidden, but
heard all the same. “So you have returned.”
“As have you.”
“I have come to remind you of who you were before.”