Drama Fiction African American

Everything was ready for the ritual. Elijah had been up all morning checking and double checking the preparations they made for this night. It was just after sundown when he woke her up.

" Are you sure about this?”

Elijah asks his wife.

" I’m sure”

Miriam yawns, still waking up. She searches her husband’s face in the failing candlelight. He looks afraid even though he’s trying not to. She reaches a hand up to caress his worried face. He responds by kissing her hand and then her forehead. He pulls her into an embrace and says.

" Well I’m not sure. I’m not sure if it’s worth it. ”

His eyes glowing white with his confession as his wife pulls back to look at him.

" Save it, we’ll need all of our magic tonight,”

she says in reference to his glowing eyes. Her expression softens while still looking at him.

" I am sure.”

She begins, her hands going to her pregnant belly.

" We are the last two left Elijah. We have to raise another one before our time is up.”

He knows that his wife is right but the risk is too great. The strain it puts not only on Miriam’s body. But on their relationship. He wasn’t sure they could survive another heartbreak.

Elijah helps Miriam to the bath he prepared. Twelve gallons of moon water, boiled on a wood fire stove. The water was full of rose petals, lavender oil, and pink salt. The couple worked in near silence. The only sounds were the light splashing of water as they bathed Miriam’s pregnant body. They finished her bath by scenting her hair with rose flower oil. Elijah dried his wife off as she braided her locs up and off her shoulders. Placing flowers along the braid created a crown. Bracelets made from strips of animal leather and seashells played the tambourine at her wrists and ankles. She wore two diamond shaped veils made from countless rows of beaded sea glass. One that covered her face just below her eyes and another that draped over her shoulders and spilled down her back and over her breasts. Their frostiness matched the overcast night sky. Elijah escorts Miriam to the birthing site they prepared. A six-foot wide path leading to the sacred mirror. The path is marked on either side by twelve large stones spread a foot apart, with a one foot deep trench below it. On the outside of the stones marking the path were two more skinny shallow trenches filled with oil. Elijah leaves Miriam to walk to the end of the path. Using his magic he lights the oil in the smaller trenches. Sending brilliant blue and purple flames racing towards his wife. Once the flames reach the head of the path. Elijah takes his seat at the drum and begins to play. Bum-ba-dum-bum-bum… Bum-ba-dum-bum-bum… With his eyes closed he lends his voice to the night. Miriam locks eyes with her reflection in the mirror in the distance and begins her procession down the dirt path. Each step she takes is music. The beads and seashells clinking together with her movements. Still focused on her reflection, her voice cries out. Joining that of her husband. Helping to set the atmosphere for the ushering in of the last of them.

Memories flash behind Elijah’s fluttering eyelids. A day ago when he stumbled upon Miriam in the meadow behind their house, picking flowers for her hair. He’d just returned from fishing. She looked so beautiful, like Gaia herself. With the sun at her back and her feet dug into the earth. Carefully selecting flowers while speaking to the baby in her belly. He stooped down behind some tall grass to observe his love from a distance. She was telling the baby about the work she was doing and about what it meant to be one of their kind. Elijah felt so proud watching her. He was falling in love with her all over again. Then she broke his heart by saying.

“I might not make it out of the delivery. This might be the only way you get to know me. As, the vessel that carried you, nurtured you, and loved you until your arrival. I’m not a young woman anymore. I haven’t been for quite some time. That’s why my pregnancies haven’t… You are different. I know it. You are special. If I don’t make it, it’s alright as long as you do. Your daddy loves you and he’ll take good care of you. He’ll be sad for a long time after I’m gone. Don’t give him too hard a time about it. He’ll do the best he can…”

Elijah couldn’t listen anymore. His chest had seized up as hot tears slipped from his eyes and down his face. How could she say those things? Part of him knew that she could be right. But to hear her say it out loud felt like she was speaking it into existence. He stopped himself from continuing that train of thought. Miriam wasn’t going to die. The baby wasn’t going to die. No matter what happened, everyone was making it out of this birth alive! That memory fueled his drumming and reinforced his intent. By this time Miriam had reached the birthing trench at the end of the path. Elijah stopped his drumming to assist his wife and continue with the ritual. Two tiny coffins carved out of psyche tree wood; held the remains of their two stillborn daughters. They are prepared in such a way; they look as if they are to be taken up from the altar by the ancestors. A lamb and a kid are tied to a tree just a few feet away from the altar. Elijah sacrifices both animals. Spilling their blood into a large wooden bowl. Dipping his fingers in the blood he draws a rune on Miriam’s forehead and then on his own. He then carries the bowl of blood to the mirror. Setting it down before the hunk of polished, flat, obsidian. Elijah returns to Miriam, standing behind her. The two of them face the mirror and Elijah speaks some words over his wife.

" La mieto she´ nah reolkajghe- There is no fear within the light”

As those words finish on Elijah’s lips Miriam naturally starts going into labor. Her water breaks, spilling into the trench at her feet. Elijah helps his wife get into position. Feet dug into the ground with a firm grip on the oar like appendages sticking up out of the ground on either side of the trench. He moves around in front so that he can deliver the baby when it’s time. The baby hasn’t moved into the correct position. Instead its turned sideways. Elijah tries his best to coax it into the right position but it won’t budge. There so much blood and he keeps having flashbacks of the two previous failed deliveries. They were very similar to this. Everything is going wrong! So much so that he cannot regain his composure. He looks down at himself covered in his wife’s blood. Hysteria begins with a pleading look in his eyes that turns to helplessness when he looks into his wife’s strained face. His movements are frantic and his speech is a jumble of whimpering gibberish. Seeing her husband losing the fight with his sanity; Miriam grabs him by the collar of his shirt. Bringing his face to hers, she kisses him on his third eye. Using her magic to send calm into his mind, which makes him sleep. As his body falls into the trench beside her, she begins her prayer.

“I call upon the Mirror Keepers of old. Those of heaven, earth, and the places in between. The guardians of sacred spaces and the demigods of secret passages. Deliver your child into this world. The last of our kind. The last keeper of the sacred mirror. The door to all places known and unknown. Usher him, in all of his cosmic glory. He is a child of the heavens. Born out of the place which gave life to life itself. Hear me! Lords of the universe. This is your child! Deliver him into this world! Deliver him!”

Miriam’s voice rings out with strident desperation. The heavy child, like a warm stone in her womb. She fears that she is once again carrying death inside of her. Refusing to lose another child. Miriam focuses her energy. Calling up all of the magic she can. White light begins to glow from her hands. Placing them on her belly she begins a chant. The same words Elijah spoke before she went into labor.

“La mieto she´ nah reolkajghe! La mieto she´ nah reolkajghe! There is no fear within the light!”

Her womb contracts as a spill of crimson splats from between her legs. Her body is weak and she’s lost too much blood. Miriam’s eyes roll to the back of her head. The burning fever, the pain, and sheer exhaustion knock her out. Elijah wakes up right at that moment. Having been released from his wife’s magic.

" NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!”

Seeing Miriam passed out, he springs into action. Scrambling to pick himself up off the wet and bloodied ground. With a flash of lightening and the sound of thunder, rain begins to pour and the wind starts to pick up. Elijah climbs out of the trench and walks against the wind to the mirror. Eyeing the gruesome looking scene of his wife’s unconscious body, laying in the mud with their unborn child trapped inside of her. He releases a yell to the heavens out of frustration. A primal clarity takes over his mind as Elijah grabs hold to the mirror. Calling up his magic, his entire body begins to glow white. Transforming the mirror into a rippling portal of time and space. A large crack of thunder close by speaks to the urgency of the situation. Over the whipping sound of branches in the wind. Elijah speaks to his unborn child.

" Yuriel! The light, the flame of god. That is your name my son. La mieto she´ nah reolkajghe- There is no fear within the light. You do not have to be afraid because you are the light. You are the last of us. The one to bring our kind into this new era. It is time for you to wake up son. Be born of your mother. Live!”

Elijah weeps into the last of his words. His voice breaking hoarse over the sound of the wind and the rain. Thunder cracks again and an arc of lightning surges through Elijah, into the mirror, and into Miriam’s belly. The celestial electricity shocks Miriam back to consciousness. Through half opened lids she can see white light pouring into her from the mirror. Looking down at her belly she can see the baby moving into the proper birthing position. Still trapped in place by the intense arc, Elijah is stuck holding the mirror. Wearily, Miriam grabs hold of the oars on either side of the trench. She takes a couple of deep breaths and then screams at the top of her lungs. Several pushes and she can feel that the child is coming but, she needs help. For the first time since this began, sobs of fear arrest Miriam’s resolve. In an effort to regain her composure. Miriam searches for her reflection in the obsidian disk. Her search is met with a familiar set of eyes. That of her mother. More familiar faces emerge from the mirrors portal. A procession of ancestors come streaming from the other side to aid their daughter. Ancient hands filled with skill and magic lay upon Miriam; helping to guide the baby into this world. Each ancestor that passes through the portal adds weight to the mirror in Elijah’s grasp. The intensity of all the magic being spent combined with the lighting that was drawn to it; causes the mirror to dematerialize, being absorbed by the baby in Miriam’s belly. With the mirror gone. Elijah rushes back to his wife. His magic is still active as he delivers his son. Loud, hiccuping cries replace the sounds of the storm in the nights sky. After three-hundred years. They finally did it! They delivered their baby. The last mirror keeper. 

October 27, 2021 05:06

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RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

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