Archive | August, 2010

Mora Chapter 1

19 Aug

It’s been a year since I’ve posted to my writing blog. So many things have taken place in my life, so many events changed the path of my future. Yet I still write, and after a wild dream the other night, I suddenly feel the need as I did, 5 years ago. So without further Adieu, I give you the tale of Mora the Raven.

Chapter 1

There are things in my world we just do not speak of. We do not speak of what happens after death. We do not speak of the sacrifices of wedlock. We do not speak of the times prior to the rapture unless within the schoolhouse walls.

The elders say the laws have been past down from the Originators. They survived the rapture. They made this life for us and we, in turn live a simple and yet fruitful life.

Ever since I was old enough to understand, I’ve been told that Pleasure is the greatest sin. Not only will you be punished by Dios, but you will be punished by the elders as well. If you repeat the offense, you will be banished to the Deadlands, forced to survive on your own or die in the deserts that surround the Oasis.

There are 12 Oasis total across the continent. Everything outside the Oasis is barren desert. You don’t survive out there without some kind of support system. Boys are sent out into the desert for 3 days as a rite of passage. They come back men, or they do not come back at all. I woman, will be traded to another Oasis for my wedlock. I will have to trudge that desert. Trust me when I say the idea scares me to death.

I live on Gemma Oasis. It’s a small oasis on the southern part of the continent. The only continent left on the planet earth. We were taught that many, many years ago, our ancestors angered Dios. They were selfish and full of the need to pleasure only themselves. They cared not for their world, their people, their families. They only cared in the fabled icons of the times. Things called automobiles, televisions and telephones. I was even told the story of the Great Kate who was a queen of the land of Fashion. She was obsessed with dousing herself in oils that made her smell as if she’d rolled in the spice bins. She died from poisoning of the oils. She was a fable. A lesson to be taught to never give in to want.

Today I am nineteen years old for the very last time. Tomorrow, I am to ride a trade caravan where I will be traded, livestock for a bride. Me being the bride. Tonight is the last night I spend with my mother and sisters. Tomorrow, I will be a woman sent out to build a family of my own. The women are separated from men at the age of three. Boys are taken by their fathers, raised together and taught man things. I suspect things like hunting, building, spitting and scratching themselves. Things women don’t ever do. I do have to say I always felt slighted because I was denied the chance to learn architecture. The ancient books we have showed the flaws of the architecture of the past in huge high rises, blocking out the glorious sun. I wanted to learn so much and was denied due to me gender.

I was taught such things as sewing, cooking, and basic mathematics to handle trade. Gemma Oasis is famous for their desert rams and alpacas. We raise them and our flocks produce the softest fleece in the new world. Pride is a sin, I only state what is fact. The only time the unwed women are allowed to mingle with the men is during the annual sheering. We celebrate nothing as any type of exuberance is deemed as overzealous and wrong. The elders live in constant atonement to Dios for our past generations. We fear the chaos that angering Dios could bring. Women more than men, need to be an example of humility.

I will miss the annual sheering. I shouldn’t say that. If the elders knew, I would be no longer be traded but given away. Considered an emotional harlot. I had a sister who was given away. We are not to grow attachments to the others but it cannot be helped. I miss her dearly. She constantly defied the elders, our mother and Dios. The final straw was dying her underthings the color of blood. She’d dyed them months ago and thought she’d gotten away with it until a breeze picked up her skirts. The elder accused her of being a harlot and bewitching her with her blood red colorings. He went into penitence, punishing himself for thirty days for craven thoughts about her. I woke up the day after he reported her, and she was gone. Gone in the night, stolen from her bed, and taken into the Deadlands to be given freely to any many who would take her. Or worse, left for dead.

Sometimes, I dream of her. I think of Bani and wonder if she survived. I long to have gone with her. Even if it had been to die, she was the closest thing I had to a companion.

#

“Get out of that tub, Mora. You’re not to lavish in the waters and you know it.” Mother said as she held the large bath sheet open for me.

“That I do know, Mother. I wasn’t lavishing. Just thinking of what is to come tomorrow.” I stood and let the rivulets of water run down my skin into the iron tub. I had sat in it so long, the water temperature had cooled and the fire beneath was nothing but smoldering embers.

“Do not ponder on your future. Dios will grant you a long one if you have been a dutiful daughter. I find that you have. I see no reason why Dios would curse you into a bad wedlock.” I stepped out of the tub and was immediately wrapped in the bath sheet, Mother running her hands up and down my arms.

It was a warm night, the bath house surrounded in netting to keep the biters away. I was to be washed, anointed and prepared for my journey. “Is it wrong to be scared?” I asked.

“No. Dios respects the fear that is inlayed within us. We are but tiny beings to the great lord and we will fear many things. Lack of fear is what is wrong. Pride is wrong. Want is wrong. You must be the epitome of humility. You have studied well and know your craft. Use it to bring your betters and future elders the profit needed to continue at your new Oasis.” She dried me and set the sheet aside; knowing that no member of our Oasis would dare peek into the windows of the bath house as she conducted the ceremony.

Mother stripped down to her underthings and set the tray on the pillar next to the tub. Usually the tray would hold a scrub towel, a bar of soap and space for such things as spectacles or reminder rings. Tonight, it held the anointing oils for the blessing and the torque that would be fashioned around my neck to show that I was no longer available. The deal had been done, and I would be delivered to my new life.

“Do you ever think about Bani?” I whispered.

“No. Do not mention the harlot’s name.” Mother’s face contorted in pain and I realized she just lied to me.

“It’s okay. I won’t tell anyone. I am leaving tomorrow, Mother. Please tell me you will remember me when I am gone too, just as you remember her.” I had turned and faced her as she prepared the blessing oil for my skin and stared into her eyes as the tears started to trickle down her face.

“It is wrong. I am not to want for my children. They have their missions in life and I have mine. She disobeyed. She broke the law and was punished for it. I should be disgraced by her actions and feel nothing but shame for her but I think of her as a child, her taking care of you and the others, her as she created such beautiful fabrics with her dyes. We are to live in a world of humility yet she was my shining star. And now you, my practical Mora is leaving, never to be seen by my eyes again. I will have to do heavy atonement for my thoughts and words tonight.” She sniffled and I did the only thing I could. I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her tight.

We do not show affection to each other. It is not proper and can elicit evil thoughts. But, I couldn’t stand there and watch my mother mourn for her daughters alone. I mourned just as much as she and knew that it was meant to be our little secret. Bani was two years older than me but she was more like my twin. She was eighteen when she was banished and now, being chosen to leave the Oasis was going to destroy what little love was left in my mother’s heart. So I held her. I wantonly broke the law and flouted my love for her, not caring if anyone else would witness it. I was to be gone anyway and my last memories would be defiant by my choice alone.

We separated; she spread the oil on my skin and whispered the wedlock prayer over and over. She set the torque around my neck and flipped the intricate lock in the back. I was finally a woman. I was an early starter; I bled earlier than the other girls. My body showed the signs of childbirth readiness at the early age of fifteen and now, now I would be a wife.

She slipped the soft knighting over my skin and walked me out of the bathhouse to the tradehouse, where I could be staying tonight. I no longer had a room under her roof. I was to be kept with the other wares and livestock for tomorrow’s treck. I would sleep in a simple bed, I would get up in the morning, I would dress and I would be ready to leave.

And my world would be changed forever.