I stare past the horizon, gazing into the deep reds and magnificent oranges that fade into the sky in a wonderful blend of colours. A loud, echoing boom wakes me from my reverie. I look around, gaining my bearings on reality once more. People have begun to file out of their homes; a trickling stream of individuals. I tie back a loose strand of hair and join what has now become a steady flowing river.
We make our way up a gentle slope; the only sounds are our footsteps on loose gravel, the few crickets that have begun to sing, and the continuous boom echoing in my ears. As we make it up the small, mild slope we have a view of the temple. I can almost see the sound waves resonating through the temple walls as we get closer.
The priest stands three steps up on the pyramid like structure, surrounded by the symbols of the five sun gods. He motions for us to kneel and in one synchronized movement every person of the village gathered here, gets to their knees.
“Welcome.” The man’s voice is booming, powerful. “Let’s waste no time,” he says in that same grand voice. “Kenny,” he turns his attention to a small boy dressed in a light purple tunic, “the name?”
The boy scurries towards him like a frightened mouse. The crowd around me draws in a quick breath. Everyone is waiting, the suspense almost too great to endure. But today the anticipation feels heightened, more suspenseful than any other day for reasons unknown. Kenny’s small head passes under the fifth sun symbol, he’s quickly closing in on the priest.
“Hurry up my boy, hand me the name.” It’s obvious he’s growing impatient; it’s never taken this long before.
Kenny has now reached the stocky figure of the priest and he hands him, with tiny, delicate fingers, a slip of paper. The priest’s hands are like a giants next to Kenny’s as he opens his palm out to the child. With his bulky fingers he meddles with the paper before he manages to unfold it. His eyes skim over the words and once more breaths are held as if we have been piled into a tight lock container.
The priest’s mouth curves into an O. “Olivia Vander-bar,” he bellows.
I scrunch up my eyes tightly and roll my hands into fists. This can’t be happening. It can’t be.
Two large, hazy figures walk over to me, grabbing me by the shoulders and pulling me to my feet. I don’t protest. This is supposed to be an honour. And maybe not just any honour, but the greatest honour anyone can receive.
The men drag me up the steep stairs; my knees buckling underneath me. They drag me past the priest, past the little boy in the purple tunic.
Only now has the fear completely registered and my senses seem to have magnified. I hear every breath that is taken, every quiet rustle of linen, and the sound of someone trying to conceal a loud cough. I feel every scratch running down my shins, the rough stone digging into my legs, my knees. I see every nook, each cranny on the temples surface, each scar on the back of one of the men’s legs. Their shoes, falling apart, shredding at the toes. And the smell; an over whelming stench of human blood.
I’m pushed forward, my head making sharp contact with the stone chopping block. It sends blasts of pain through my body, ricocheting through every vein, rebounding off my bones, whirling through the marrow. I try to stand up, using my upper body strength to pull my frail body to my feet. I tuck my hair behind my ear and tighten the strings on my tunic, under my bust.
The priest has caught up with us. He now stands on a small stage, looming high above me as I’m pushed to the ground once more. He starts to chant the words of the ancients, a language that means nothing to me.
Dry hands press my head to the cold stone block. I breathe deeply, letting the breath go slowly. I will be reason the sun rises tomorrow. I will be the reason it rises the next day and the day after that. I will be the reason the crops will flourish and the flowers will bloom. I will be the-
I feel the cool metal slicing through my neck, the impact my head makes as it falls to the ground, detached from my body. I feel the trickling of blood as it glides down my cheeks, leaving crimson lines down my face. The sky is a dark, navy blue. Two stars shine brightly, easily seen above their dark background. The moon is a tiny sliver, a luminescent white.
Well, at least it’s a nice view.
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