My reason for fighting evaporated in the predawn air on the final moon-day of the full harvest, along with the mist.
Magnhild was too proud to be left back in the village with the other shield wives. And she proved the mettle of that pride time and tim(more)e again on the battlefield. She was primal, fierce, her endurance unnatural and unyielding. And it only seemed to grow over time. Months into the campaign, with the men's strength running dry, she only seemed to bloom, growing more and more beautiful with the glow of war in her heart.
When I found her on Reaping Day, fallen like any other, I couldn't comprehend it. We knew our enemy was formidable, but I'd seen uncountable waves of men fall before her. A crown of ocher leaves wreathed her face, lines of dry blue paint cracking like lightning across her cheeks. Through a life of violence, it seemed she had found peace.
My village-mother once told me that death is a gift that our ancestors asked of the gods. We possessed immortality once, much like they do. It was a boon we unwished from ourselves when we donned flesh. To be borne and to come undone, and to be vulnerable all the time in-between, allows us to fight battles that the immortals cannot.
She also once said that the unproven things we tell ourselves in order to pass bravely through the vale of life are just as true as truth itself, if they make us better people.
When we find ourselves incapable, death is a kindness to look forward to. It's nice to think that, someday, I might forget what pain I have known here, and come back as something strong enough to protect the things I love.
three hours of belt whipping and bruise-ups and there i would be, knobby knees pushed rough into the earth beneath the stalks of green corn and my mottled, faith-beaten skin shining red and purple under the light of the moon. (more)i used to cry-- before, when i was a kid --but now nothing would come, just a little crippled whimper as i stretched out the rippled surface of my back to lie prostrate under the corn.
"jesus," i whispered into the softness of the dirt. "jesus make me disappear."
bang. screen door slamming shut, and i shrieked at the sudden clench of fear in my shoulders, pain licking clean and hot up my spine. i expected the rough clutch of my father's hand at the scruff of my neck, but instead, my brother, lean and gentle against the slope of my shoulder and his mouth, warm and seeking the bruised point of my cheekbone.
"come inside, he's gone quiet."
i was shivering. clenching another breath between my teeth, i curled in tighter, focusing on the bloodless ease of my numbing fingers and toes.
"come inside," he kissed the corner of my eye. "he's gone now."
Aware. That's the only thing she can make out right now. Awareness... There isn't a form to recognize, an edge to see or anything that lends itself to some sort of orientation. There is just awareness.
It's hard for her to tell how long she's been in this(more) state, all she knows is she's _here_ and she isn't bored. From time to time she can feel reverberations - but can't quite make out what they are. There are times when she's sure one rumbling felt different than the last - but the moment after that thought crests her consciousness, the second-guessing starts and she can't be sure of anything.
Time isn't something she's aware of, but there is an accumulation of thoughts and moments that serves as its proxy. The layers of cognition have been gobbed on, over and over again - but what are they sticking to? There is no framework, no form, no mold no _air_. Nothing is actually changing but everything feels different than it did just a moment ago.
THERE. This one. This one is different. She's never felt this kind of rumbling before. She can feel the intentionality and it's building. The pace doesn't quicken, but each new sensation is deeper than the last. There is no denying it, no confliction of consciousness, no other point of view to take and no arguing with what she and her consciousness is experiencing. Something _different_ is happening to her. It's fear without being afraid. It's something without being anything. It's her life changing without any happening.
There were so many different rhythms, pulses, angles, weights, sensations, ripples and drips - then it all just stopped. She can feel a tightening sensation at first, but fades as rapidly as it began.