[short story, by Sha’Tara]
She knows the end has come. Abandoning her crude, water-logged dugout canoe to float away with other logs down the muddy stream, she runs up a sandy, wet grass-covered bank to the willow line. There she stands quietly, looking in the stagnant waters of a woodland pond, the rusty grasses now barely standing and at the raspy curling leaves from dying trees all around. The breeze carries the smell of death, the stench of a dying god somewhere beyond the hills where lie the remains of a city.
Taking a deep breath she casts off the rest of her ragged clothing and raising her arms to the rust-colored skies she cries out, “Whatever is needed of me I am willing to give.”
At the sound of her voice, or at the power of her words, the waters of the pond stir and rise in a dirty waterspout. Several of the dying trees twist and turn to each other and morph into a dark form. The spout and the dark entity merge and there, in front of the naked young human stands an enormous man, or rather a nature-being morphed to resemble a human male. He changes his size until he stands only some two feet taller than the trembling girl. The ground shakes as he walks to her.
In a voice that echoes far away across the river and into the hills he says, “Who awakens the Woda entering the great sleep of the world?”
The silence following his words is even more deafening to the girl. Yet she replies boldly, “It is I who calls. I wish to continue. I do not choose for this to be the end.”
The nature giant moves closer to her and he pierces her with his eyes. She does not flinch but waits, lowering her arms but raising her head, bringing her firm breasts up for him to look upon. He reaches for her and embraces her. She gasps as he takes her and feels herself being filled with new life. Instantly she knows she is carrying his child, their child. She offered, she accepts, she waits for him to explain.
“You now possess the redeemer body and within you are two beings: a man and a woman. To these twins you will give birth and you shall care for them until they are of age to look after themselves, after which you shall be free again. During this time of gestation and rearing you belong to us, to this world and to them. You must remember this.”
He touches her nipples and again she feels that current of new life coursing through her.
He speaks again: “I have given you the power to bring forth the sacred milk of the goddess. Your breasts will never run dry as long as you feed the twins. To the boy-man you must give your left breast and to the girl-woman your right. Know now and always remember that these beings are not as you would think, brother and sister, but the parents of a new species of Earth humans. Now go. Do not return to your kind for they will sense this new life in you and in fear they will kill you and your unborn. Go into the mountains, into the setting sun. There you will find caves to live in. Find water flowing from within the stones and it will be pure for you. Food you will gather from the green things that grow around you. Fear not. You offered freely and without conditions. This means you are a powerful woman of Earth. We would not have listened to anyone else. Now go.”
Though she senses it is hopeless to ask, she does anyway: “Will you not come with me and help me? Shall I live alone in the mountains and among the rocks and give birth without help? How can I possibly do this? I am on the wrong side of the river. How do I escape to the mountains? And why can I not remember my name?”
“We are leaving; you chose to remain. So we gave you the gift of continuing life in response to your offer. Be thankful. In your many lives here you learned how to do all the things now required of you. Just remember. The river you must swim as you have watched deer and coyote swim it for many years. You know this. Rocks you know how to climb. Green things you understand. Giving birth alone you have done. You have no name because in accepting our gift to you, you became “Other.” You are Mother and Redeemer. Only when they give you a new name will you have a name. Or when you are free of them you can return to your own names.
“Banish your fear as you cast off your ragged clothes, it is an old, useless shadow. During this time do not seek company of anyone for any company that joins with you will die in your arms, adding to your burden and your sorrow. You cannot help any of them except by completing this journey.
The rumbling of his final words were to her as the noise of a waterfall: “Remember this: at the end of this journey you shall find bliss.”
[short story, by Sha’Tara]