This story is my entry for the Spring Theme Carnival. The theme is “Spring.” I hope you enjoy!
They say it was meant to be, but I don’t believe them. God, Dios, is not that capricious. No, it was just a twist of fate that killed my daughter, and I intend to twist it back.
The sun crested the ridgeline as I walked into the valley where the old temple stood. We’ve managed to keep it secret from the Whites, the Gringos with their archaeology and desecration, but the elders say it is only a mater of time. I don’t care. It was enough that for now, I was alone. The temple stood, a silent sentry, its stones moldering into history. Grass and other plants made their home on it, covering it so that it seemed to be nothing more than a mound.
I stepped onto the first stair, and the hair on my arms stirred. There was power there, ancient and restless and, some of it, evil. I wasn’t interested in the evil, just the power. The power to talk to God. If the Priests wouldn’t talk to Him for me, so be it; I’d do it myself. I climbed the temple to the top, my lungs aching and my knees complaining. It wasn’t very large, our temple, hardly half the height of places like Teotihuacan. No one knew if that’s because the valley floor had risen, or this temple was just a smaller one, once part of a network across all of the land the ancients controlled.
The top appeared, the sun now up over the mountains. It shone down, oblivious to the long, long winter that held us in its grasp. I smoothed a spot on the top of the temple, the cloth I’d brought bright against the earth. I laid out the corn cakes, the bit of cheese, and water. Lastly, I pulled out my knife. It’s a good, strong blade. My husband, Jose, bought it for me last year. He would not have agreed with me bringing it here, a good cooking knife, but I had nothing else. I kneeled on the cloth and called out to God.
I drew the blade across my hand. It didn’t hurt right away, so I looked to make sure I broke the skin. As soon as I saw the first drops of blood well up, it stung. I flung them forward, over the side of the temple. They sparkled a little in the sun. I cut my other hand and let the knife fall to the ground next to me, the blood on it seeping into the dirt.
I started to feel dizzy, so I bent to lay my forehead on the blanket, bowing to the sun. As my hands fell to the ground, they slipped off the cloth into the dirt, my blood mingling with the earth. My heartbeat seemed to get louder as I prayed.
I heard my name called. I blinked. My hands bled faster, as though the earth pulled the blood like water out of my body. I couldn’t raise my head.
Jose scrambled up behind me and stumbled to a stop. I think he thought I was dead, but I couldn’t speak to him. There were others with him, I could hear their voices, but they didn’t make sense to me.
“Lourdes?” Jose called to me. He fell to his knees next to me and touched my back, his hands sweaty from climbing. “Can you hear me?”
“She is praying,” one of the Priests, a young man called Juanito, told him. “She has brought all the tools.” His voice sounded approving.
“The knife!” Jose cried. “What has she done?”
“It’s her hands, Jose. Not her wrists. This is not for death, but life.” Juanito knelt nearby, I could hear his robes moving. “It may yet work…”
Jose ignored him and brushed my hair out of my eyes. He pulled me over onto my side to lay against him and then slipped his arms around me, lifting me off the blanket.
“Paco. Get her things, please?” Jose called.
His brother, taller than Jose by several inches and strongly muscled, collected my knife, the food offering and then the blanket.
“Jose,” Paco called softly. “Look.”
Jose caught his breath and crushed me to him. “Lourdes!”
“Jose?” My voice sounded weak. I couldn’t see what he was looking at. I tried to crane my neck, but he held me too tightly.
“Take her back,” Juanito told him quietly. “She’ll be very weak.”
Jose didn’t answer right away. “Lourdes?”
I didn’t have the energy to answer him. The sun seemed brighter, burning down onto my skin like something tangible. Jose turned, casting most of my body into the shadow of his body, and started down. The sun warmed my face, its light making my eyes squeeze shut.
“Lourdes, look,” Jose whispered, squeezing me.
I managed to get my eyes open. We were at the base of the temple now, near the burial grounds. Ana’s grave lay closest to us, since it was the newest.
There, on the newly-turned earth of my daughter’s final resting place, we saw it.
“Spring has come!” Jose cried, his tears dripping onto my face. “You are the new Tia, Lourdes!”
Ana’s grave, barren since we laid her to rest, was covered in a soft ripple of green. The first blooms, small white and lavender flowers, opened their shy faces and turned to worship the sun.
God had given His answer.