Chapter 19:


The Stray Princess

The man carries the girl in his arms until they arrive to the riverbank, he puts her down. She is still feeling pain in her abdomen but somehow chewing the leaf that her grandmother gave her is making it bearable so she is able to walk by her own.

“How leave us” The old lady says to her son “Go to the village and tell everyone, we can celebrate this night. Please bring clean clothes and my trusty bar of soap that is in my hut, I also need...” She whispers something into his ear.

“Okay, I’ll try not to take long” He says and leaves “Love you both!” Then he yells from the distance.

The old lady waves her hand as she sees her son’s image disappear, Chia thinks for a moment if she should follow the man but decides to stay with the girl, the smell of blood worries her.

“Okay, he is gone” The old lady says and looks at her granddaughter “Take off your clothes and go inside the river” she points with her hand.

She does as told, this river is not very deep and the cold water goes very well with the warm temperature that the day is having.

“Gran Gran” The girl says once she enters the water and the stream takes away the blood on her body “Am I going to be okay?”

“Don’t you worry my dear child” The grandmother sits on a big rock by the riverbank, Chia perceives that they are getting relaxed so she goes and sits on the ground at the old lady’s right side “Do you remember the story of the god of destruction and the goddess of creation?” She continues and extends her hand to pet the dog.

“I think so, they were enemies but even so they created everything we see”

“Exactly, long ago there was only a ball of light and darkness in the sky. Then one day it divided in two, so the god of destruction and the goddess of creation were born. She moved her feet and created the soil and the rocks; he didn’t like it so he used earthquakes and destroyed them. She moved her hands and created the grass and plants, so he used fire and burnt them. She moved her hair and created rain to stop the fire, he used wind to move the rain but he failed and got angry. ‘Why do you do this?’ The goddess asked, ‘Creation is pointless, everything eventually will only meet doom’ He answered, ‘Even if doom arrives, only new things will be created from it’ She tried to talk to him but he didn’t hear a word. And no matter what the goddess did, he always found a way to destroy it. When she created plants, he brought insects to eat them. When she created fruits, he made the birds able to consume them. When she created flowers and trees, he made the humans capable of ripping and cutting them down. The goddess laughed when seeing this. ‘I told you that no matter what you do, everything will be destroyed at the end’ he said, ‘Are you sure?’ she asked ‘You never destroyed anything, thanks to your earthquakes the mountains were created, thanks to your wind the seeds of plants can travel and germinate in other areas, thanks to your insects, honey appeared, thanks to your birds the music was born, fire was the most annoying of your attacks but thanks to your humans it was tamed and now they use it to create objects with clay, to cook, and many other things. Don’t you see? You created many things, just like me’. He didn’t like what she was saying, he just hated to be wrong so in a last attempt to destroy everything he created war, but just in that moment he understood the words of the goddess, they were always one and the same, when she creates, he destroys like when his birds ate her fruit, and when he creates, she destroys like when her rain extinguished his fire, and after each destruction a new thing is born, they are trapped in an eternal cycle. But he noticed this too late and his own ultimate invention, war, took control over him. He became a beast of fire and rock and spread chaos everywhere he walked and to stop him, the goddess became a beast of wind and water, their fight was a long one. When their first collided, pieces of fire went flying in every direction, some of them very far in the sky so the stars were born. He made the last attack and his hand pierced her abdomen, since she was in the form of a beast, she didn’t bleed but instead water came out of her thus creating the ocean. She took advantage of this situation and with a hug she made him fall into the water, with a column of smoke his flames disappeared and the first clouds appeared in the sky. He finally got back into his senses and asked for forgiveness after seeing what he had done and how their fight made humans and animals disappear. This time they worked together to create them again, she couldn’t revert from her beast form or the injury that was left would bleed and kill her, he didn’t revert either because the guilt didn’t allow him to. When they finished repairing everything they promised to never fight again and flew up to the sky to watch over us from there, he became the sun and she the moon. Thanks to them is why we humans have the abilities to create and to destroy, how we use them depends on us, and since we were created again in the moment where the goddess was hurt… her injury still exists in our bodies and appears when we become adults. And even if she is now the moon you can see her bleeding from time to time when it turns red”

“I don’t like this Gran Gran, will it get healed someday?”

“When you get older it will someday disappear. But you have to bear it every moon until then”

“Every moon!? Is my dad in the same situation?” The girl worries about her dad and if he also has to endure the same pain.

“Oh no, he and the other boys don’t go through this since their souls aren’t as linked to the goddess as ours”

“That’s not fair!” The girl yells “If that’s the case, I don’t want to be linked to the goddess” She splashes water and submerges in the river doing a tantrum.

“Here is what you asked for, mom” The man appears and gives the old lady a basket made of straw “I’ll leave you two alone, this is a night for celebration!”

The grandmother uses a big bar of soap she made and washes the girl’s dress, and gives her another one to clean her body. Chia watches them all the time, she doesn’t understand a thing of what is happening, when she was called Princess one day, they took her to the vet and while she slept, they had surgically removed her uterus and ovaries in a process called sterilization. Obviously, she doesn’t know about it, her body doesn’t produce estrogen, she can’t go into heat or produce any offspring.

After the girl was clean and dry, her grandmother gave her a new pair of underwear with more layers of fabric than usual, only the women of the village know and use this piece of clothing that has been handed down through generations.

“With your mom we worked very hard on it, we knew that sooner or later this day would come. It will help you to not stain your dress” The old lady says “It’s a shame she couldn’t be here, let’s hope she comes back soon from the city”

She didn’t want to go back to the sunflower field and watch the butterflies, with her grandmother they went to the village, it was almost empty except for a couple of women that came to talk to them. They congratulate her and said something about getting the ink ready for tomorrow. The girl looked confused at her grandmother so she moved her left arm to show the mark on it. The other women did the same, on their arms there are drawings, some look like a simple circle, others like a totally black circle and others seem more like moon on a crescent form.

“When you become an adult, the moon will give you her blessing” One of them said “The night of your first day as an adult will be drawn on your arm, and the shape that the moon has that night will be the one that gives you luck each time it appears”

“And tonight, it will be a full moon! Oh you will be blessed the same way as your Gran Gran” The old lady says as she squeezes her granddaughter’s right cheek “Don’t forget to chew the leaves again if you feel pain” She continues and gives the bag that she is carrying to the girl “Also, each time this happens you can take off three days and rest from your moon duty tasks, unless you want to do them” The old lady smiles with her eyes filled with pride and melancholy “To think that you were a small baby not too long ago… Well, go and rest, I’ll get everything ready for your ceremony tonight” The old lady and the other women push the girl and leave her in her hut, Chia follows and stays with her.

She starts patting the dog and sits over her bed “I don’t get why everyone congratulates me, I’m not happy about it, what is to celebrate?” She covers her face with her hands “Am I supposed to be happy for feeling pain? Why my skin needs to have a mark? I DON UNDERSTAND ANYTHING!” She lays on the bed and rests, Chia stays all the time by her side.

After some hours her father enters the hut saying: “My little sunflower, I’m about to cook for the ceremony. What do you want to eat? Do you want me to kill a pig or maybe a chicken or two? It’s your special day, I’ll do whatever you want”

“I have seen enough blood for the day, I don’t want a living being to suffer just because I am now a grown-up” She says, the pain in her abdomen is low thanks to the leaves that she keeps chewing “Can I have another thing? Maybe just the soup that Gran Gran always does”

“Of course,” he says and hugs her.

“Hey dad” She says “It scares me that everyone is excited about this, and they were saying things about marking my skin”

“Oh, well. It’s because it has been a long time since we last made a ceremony like this one, you are the youngest of the village and our future, so everyone is excited. Please forgive them”

“Okay” The girl smiles “Dad, do you have also a mark on your arm?” She was scared of asking, thinking that only her and the other women were forced to be marked.

“Of course, I have!” He smiles and points to his arm, his answer takes her by surprise.

She searches around the arm and doesn’t see anything out of the ordinary, then decides to ask: “Where?”

“Here, here” The points at a black circle hidden on his triceps.

“What? Isn’t that just a big mole?” She can’t contain her laughter.

“How dare you! It is true that it was a bigger mark when I was young and my muscles cover it a little, but it’s still my moon blessing”

“But if you don’t bleed, how do you become adults?”

“When hair appears on our bodies! When the first tiny hairs appear here on our faces, we have our ceremonies… It’s not the same but it is how we know that the time has come. Then the hair moves to our arms, legs, belly, armpits and never stops growing”

“Ew gross!” The girl laughs and takes out her tongue while closing the eyes.

“Rude, your mom finds it cool” He crosses his arms and does an expression like a small child “Anyways, when I had my ceremony, I was really sad. That was a night with no moon or stars, the sky was just black… I felt left out, like the only one without a blessing. I hated my black dot” He pauses and inhales deeply “But one night just like that one, you came into my life… and that’s when I knew that I really was blessed” He touches his daughter’s face gently with his hand “Okay, soup it is! I must go find mom, she knows how is done” And with that he leaves.

The girl felt more relaxed after talking with her dad, she decides to stay in bed all day with Chia. The dog stops worrying when she sees the way that the girl is now reacting, softly they hug and take a nap.

“Let’s go” The bearded man kindly moves her daughter.

She and Chia open their eyes, her father holds a torch. The light and shadows dance in the room, he extends his right hand and helps her getting up. They walk outside the hut with Chia walking behind them.

The sound of drums starts playing, then a slow clapping follows. There are people outside that start walking with them as they sing a song about happiness and family, the sky is filled with stars and the full moon is bigger than usual. They arrive to the center of the village where the bearded man throws the torch into a pile of sticks and wood, the light of the flames extends and a bonfire is created.

Everyone claps and screams with joy, they serve soup in clay bowls, the music doesn’t stop and now the sound of flutes and panpipes join. The clay expert touches the girl’s shoulder.

“I heard what happened to your ocarina little miss” The old man says “Let’s create tomorrow a new one, but for now you can play this one” he extends his hand and gives her an instrument just like the one she had in the morning. She hugs him and then joins the party.

Many are impressed by the melody that she is able to create, and the ones who aren’t eating or playing start dancing. Chia wags her tail in excitement, goes in front of the girl and tries to stand on her back legs to get her attention. She stops playing the ocarina for a moment and takes the opportunity to grab the front legs of the dog.

“Dance with me Chia” She smiles and slowly dances with the canine “Maybe growing up is not so bad after all” She whispers to her dance partner “I wonder if you are an adult”

“Look!” The old lady points at the starry sky and a shooting star crosses with great speed.

“Wow!” Is the first time she sees a shooting star, even if many cultures share beliefs when seeing one, this indigenous group doesn’t have any kind of action when seeing them, but still, they admire their beauty.

Then another one appears, and a third one, a fourth one, a fifth one. A meteor shower fills the sky, everyone stops what they were doing and just look at the sky. The bearded man and the old lady arrive to each side of the girl.

“Seems that you are a lucky one” The grandmother says.

Her father rests his left arm on her shoulder, the girl opens her hands and Chia falls to the grass. The dog then turns around and watches the sky as everyone else, the lights moving in the sky reflect inside her big brown eyes, she sits on the grass and pants with a smile.

Chia has lived cold nights, warm nights, nights with hunger, nights with her stomach full with food and many sad nights alone, but this night is the happiest of her life.

THE END, for now.

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