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Exercise #12: Fear of Water

Tomorrow the god will show his face in the shadow of the big temple. Then the priests will feed us a meal of corn and beans and give us a drink from a gold cup, wash us, paint our faces with the signs of Kukulkan in red and blue, and dress us in gold and feathers. And then they will lead us to the cenote.

I want to believe I will have the courage walk on my own legs and that they will not have to drag me, as I have seen them drag others. At the edge of the great well, they will say prayers to ask the god to accept us and bring an end to the drought. And then we will jump into the cenote, or we will lose our nerve, and the priests will pick us up and throw us in. If we survive the fall, they will pull us out of the well, and the god will give us the gift of prophecy.

I want to be brave. I want to make this sacrifice for the sake of our people, but especially for my parents and for my little sister. But I am not sure that giving up my life will bring the rain. I am young, but I am not too young to remember last year and the year before that. The priests gave victims to the gods, but the rain still hasn’t come. Why do they think that this year will be different?

Once my father was gone for eight days, scouting with a party of warriors. When he came back, he told me about a man that they met in the jungle to the west. The man was tall, with long limbs, and he told them of a place many days’ march to the north where rain falls nearly every day, and of places far away where the gods make rain flow across the ground in a kind of roadway of water.

I don’t want to die. I want to escape to a place where the gods don’t ask so much of their people.

Note: The prompt was to write about “a time you were afraid of water.” I didn’t feel like writing a hurricane story, so I tried something else.

© 2009 Edward F. Gumnick

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