Karin Mitchell's books on Goodreads
Between Families Between Families
reviews: 5
ratings: 8 (avg rating 4.75)

Friday, August 22, 2008

The River Currant: A Fable Part V

That night, the silence was thick with the tragedy of the day. So thick, that it was felt even in the tribe. The medicine man, who’d sent his shadow to visit, was particularly lost in the sadness that seeped through to him. No one was helped by him for a month. The tribes people worried that their gift would be lost with the family. How could the girl find her way in the dark?

The animals worried; the whole menagerie was askew with talk of hopelessness. “How could a hopeless girl be their key?”

When the month of moping and sadness ended, the sun came out and caste a beautiful rainbow for all the tribe to see. The sun refracted their worries, changed the light. The worries melted and faith came through in three broad, colorful bands.

Beneath, the animals too grew tired of their mopishness and began to stew. As their discontent grew, ideas came forth. They thought of getting the girl to taste currants again, or maybe if they gave her milk to replenish her breasts, but no-they had no way to get currants and her breasts had already refilled, even if it was not with the hope they needed. Where before they had stayed away, now they gathered near her whenever she left the house.

They brought her the things they’d found before: the piece of twine first as it seemed the most useful. She wondered aloud where it might have come from. And as she did she remember the babies tied to her own body, and began telling them the story of an eagle who’d found a single piece of twine and used it to build a grand nest. The babies flipped and bubbled and she knew they wanted more. The light within her womb glowed when she told the stories. The babies were happy and her stomach shone.

This light traveled across time to the dreams of the tribes people. They dreamed wonderful stories and told them to each other’s children while they made bread. They told stories to their parents while they ate and to the snakes when they went to fetch drinking water.

The menagerie animals became excited when they saw the girl’s belly had grown and brought her the scrap from the storybook, hoping it too would nurture the tribes gift in her womb. She cried thinking of the beautiful book it’d come from, the one her mother had been reading over and over since their arrival in the village. The one her mother had read to her when she was small. She had paid no attention to which book it was her mother had been reading until this very moment. She felt tears of joy in the memories of those quiet times with her mother.

She brought the page to the river where she picked up a rock and threw it, imagining water in the dried up bed. In her imagination the rock skipped all across a broad stream. When it landed on the other side something magical happened. A rock broke open, and inside it were currants. See, the medicine man’s shadow loved her too much to return to his world without leaving some gift, some reminder behind.

She ate a currant and as flavor burst in her mouth, a vivid image popped forward in her mind: the pictures that went along with the story her mother had read. She used the currants, rubbing them on the porous rocks in the riverbed to illustrate her story. As the last drop of currant joined the illustration, the oldest member of the tribe shot awake.

He began laughing and running around the village waking people. “I have news I have news! Everyone, come with me to the river!” Because the tribe respected age above all else, they followed him eagerly. They were worried too though as they arrived and saw nothing.

The elder told them to sit and watch the river. He whispered over the crowd that this was a lesson of the moon and we’d have to listen carefully to see it. The medicine man knew that these were a sun people, and to ease their sight and hearing, he’d do the same for them as he’d done for the girl. He fetched all the currants he could find. As the taste spread throughout the tribe, they began to see the girl’s picture in the water. The artists tried adding colors, but the water diluted the color and swept it away. So they simply watched the picture emerge enjoying its luster. They were thrilled by the experience and no more sleep was needed that night. They danced in the moonlight and felt the wonder of bodies moving.

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