NaNoWriMo: Posted November 21@11:21
Milani pinched the speck of Earthen glass between her thumb and forefinger, turning the piece so that it caught the light in its iridescent patina. What was once broken trash cultivated itself into newfound beauty. It reminded Milani that while everyone praised the sun god, she loved the moon god.
Chand had the glass mounted onto a central disk which then had gold vermeil wire encircling it.
“Like the planets encircle each other, the moons and the suns,” he told her.
She opened the necklace’s clasp and put the jewelry back around her neck, gently touching where the excavated beauty of Chand’s home planet graced her skin, near her heart.
She missed her husband.
Aamin’s shouted carried undertones of terror that she heard from her son only one other time – when the sheep were attacked and killed.
His voice cracked.
Milani’s head shot up. Aamin darted from the around the back of their homestead, near the cliffside.
Liana and Hafeez were no longer with him. Milani pressed one hand against her thigh and the other against the ground as she scrambled to her feet as quickly as she could. She didn’t even get out “where’s your brother.”
“Liana’s leg is caught in a trap!”
“What”…it was a word of reactionary disbelief. Milani knew exactly what Aamin said. She even watched him run to the homestead shed for tools, C clamps. He’d been with Chand before when they had to release another villager. She loved her boy. He memorized survival tactics and procedure without any effort.
Then it was like lightning hit her heart. The organ went from peacefully beating to thumping so hard Milani felt it in her throat. “Where’s Hafeez?”
“Village…I told him to get more help.”
“She’s not going anywhere,” he shouted, sounding irritated.
Milani slowed her run a beat – who taught her boys to be such smart asses – then ran into the house for clean water and towels.
Milani and Aamin merged as she ran out of the house with her hands full.
“What kind of trap?” she asked her boy so she could be mentally prepared when she got to Liana.
Almost as bad as a bear trap.
Then, as if things couldn’t get worse, Milani felt the first drop of rain hit her bare forehead. As the rain picked up, the soil and the path became muddy, each step slippery. Milani hoped a villager brought blankets. She was dumb to not have.
They ran through a series of trees in the forest then down a small embankment.
“Careful,” Aamin warned his mother as he pointed to a rock the size of a sheep’s head. “Don’t step on that for footing. It’s not stable.”
Milani said nothing, just avoided the stone. Her feet accepted the ground at an angle, with each step it slipped down the hill. Mud swooshed between her sandal and bare foot. All around them the rain hit the forest’s leaves. It popped and crackled, but protected them to an extent. When they were down the hill Aamin’s swerved left. In the distance Milani saw familiar faces. Both groups ran in the same direction. Milani tried to calculate where they’d converge.
Then she saw Liana, lifeless on the ground. Her body twisted and contorted in unnatural angles.
And coming up the wrong side – behind Liana’s crumpled body – was a H’tushan. A Hunter, that kind that wore soft clothing colored with mixes of brown and green to blend into the forest. The kind that ate whatever landed in its trap because in a world of survival…food was food.
The H’tushan Hunter slipped the bow and arrow from its back, expertly placed the arrow on the arrow rest and opened her stance to draw.
Milani screamed, her pace picking up and kicked mud behind her as she broke into a run. Every other step slipped and she had to catch herself. The Hunter ignored the screams, as she was trained to do. Milani screamed again, holding both hands out in from of her in a universal sign of stop and peace. She had no weapon. She came with water and towels that now existed somewhere in the forest. Villagers shouted, mostly men. Warnings. Threats. The women sounded like they cried.
The H’tushan took aim at the small unconscious but not dead child. She’d never feel her death. The arrow would pierce her brain. The H’tushan would behead her. They never cared to eat that part. There’d be nothing left to even bury.
And Atman would fall extinct, failing to thrive before it even got the chance.
Milani wished Chand was with her to help. She thought of him, of her boys and of the little girl she vowed to protect then barreled her shoulder into the Hunter. Milani became the enemy. She knew she’d have to fight for her life now. Hunters never surrendered. They never accepted defeat.
As Milani hit her, the Hunter grunted in pain, all of the air in her lungs expelled free with one swift blow. At her back, she heard her little Hafeez panicking. Aamin’s footsteps slowed to a stop with a short set of quick beat, four steps per side then he was at Liana’s side to work her leg free. Aamin shouted orders at Hafeez to keep him focused, safe and calm. Milani took her advantage and kneed the hunter’s body twice before attempting to wrap her arm around the woman’s neck. The Hunter hooked a punch into Milani’s kidney.
It was like time stopped.
But only for Milani.
Her body burned in pain and should have doubled over.
That’s a body shot, she thought remembered a conversation she’d had with Chand months back. That’s a body shot, and it really hurts.
Then time started again, and the Hunter’s punched landed crookedly on Milani’s face. The pain was there, she felt it all before it somehow all became background material to the more important issue of figuring out her positioning in the world.
Milani found herself on her hands and knees like a kicked dog. She coughed as her body attempted to find more oxygen from anywhere in order to remain awake. Blood spilled from her face and pooled on the ground between her hands. She blinked in slow motion and watched the pool grow as two drips fell like drool.
The world spinned around her, everything disorientating.
Then a boot connected with her face in the same spot as the unbalanced punch hit. Milani felt the cold ground against her oozing cheek and bare neck. Every breath and the ability to keep her eyes open was a fight in itself. She finally heard the voices of village men, but they were muffled in her ears. She felt the action around her from the vibrations on the ground below her. She heard the woman crying as Aamin opened the trap and freed Liana, heard the instructions between the women about what to care for first.
Finally, Milani felt her Earthen glass necklace around her middle finger and ring finger. The gold chain was twisted around the top knuckle of those fingers, broken and torn off from her neck.
If she could have, Milani would have cried at the jewelry’s destruction.
But she didn’t have the chance.
A heavy boot stepped on the middle of her back, pressing Milani’s spine. A dirt encrusted hand slide across Milani’s forehead and pulled it backward. When that hand slipped, it switched to pulling Milani’s bangs so that it could expose as much of her throat as possible. The position choked off Milani’s airway, and she grunted for air until a cut blade slit across her thinly skinned throat burning the flesh open and bubbling up blood that finished off the job.
The ring covered Sita’s middle knuckle. It looked like a vivid blooming petal flower but was actually an intricate set of beads linked to form the design over an elastic so soft the ring felt like an extension of herself. The merchant assisting Sita wore ten, one for each of her knuckles. Her hands looked like gardens.
Sita loved the plain red one, but she knew Tara would enjoy the flower with the mixed blue and green leaves. She only had enough to buy her sister one. Bankim waited patiently next to her and offered to make the purchase for her since Lynthian women were not allowed to buy jewelry. Raj or their father would have to have to formally gift Tara the present for Sita, but thankfully neither man cared the Sita bought the gift nor did they mind helping the gift transfer from one owner to the next.
Sita sat on the boat studying her flower ring. The ring she bought her sister for her birthday not even a year ago. At her feet, wrapped and swaddled in two thick blankets rested Tara’s baby. She napped after a fussing morning. When the sun hit the day’s high mark, the boat would leave, traveling over the pond for Loches, and her new life with Bankim.
WORD COUNT: 1515
AUTHOR’S NOTE: So as I decided to research traps (including bear trap) and snares I came across a video of a guy (in a radio studio I believe) who recorded himself punching a bear trap.
Who does that?!
Regardless of the answer – thank you crazy guy for allowing me to see first hand how insane you are and how gross it was. I was going to write that portion of scene tonight (11/21) but have decided to take the day off and enjoy my LION KING DAY (seeing it on Broadway – can’t wait).
On a different note, some of the objects described were purchasable in a catalog I received in the mail. They were beautiful. One never knows what might come about or happen upon that strikes a writer’s fancy (make sure you write about it!)
Copyright ©2010-2014 by Kristine A. Strauss, Amara SuraShakta. All rights reserved.
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