green willow(a short story)part 1

i figured i’d treat you guys to a short story after
this bit of time away from the blog. i’ll be putting it
up in parts…before i begin though, i’d like to say a
few words on the inspiration for this story. the photo
you see is a painting from Alfie Ebojo, a highly talented
artist and activist out of Los Angeles, California. a
friend of mine put me on to her work 4 years ago and
it has been nothing short of wonderful. this piece is
called ‘she gives me peace’ and basically was striking
enough that i started writing, giving you the story
you are going to read now. if you want to view more
of her work, check her out on Facebook, Twitter as well
as here:
http://www.artslant.com/global/artists/show/8255-alfie-ebojo

and now, the story..’green willow’.

She was afraid.

The drums began at the setting of the sun. The sound
grew and covered these woods around her and the village.
Green Willow felt her heart move in time with the beat
of the drums. The roaring fire in the center of the
village clearing rose into the night. The elders sat
in a group off to her right as dictated by custom. The
warriors sat to her left. She could hardly feel the
chill of the November air through her dress. Everyone
else wore their fur cloaks, which she was prohibited
from doing. The chief, Proud Hawk, held up his hand.
At once, the drumming stopped. He rose up slowly and
stepped into the inner ring a few feet from the fire.
‘Begin the ritual!!!’, he bellowed.

Green Willow’s grandmother, Winter Dove rose. She was
resplendent in a fox fur cloak accentuated by a
necklace of wolves’ teeth. Her gray mane of hair
streamed behind her in the wind as she walked with a
sure step. her mocassins stopped before where Green
Willow sat. ‘Come child, gather your courage. Arise.’
she said in a sonorous voice.

Green Willow stood and faced her grandmother. It was
all for her, the whole ceremony. She had known this
day was coming, and she was afraid but ready. Winter
Dove had made sure of that. She was the village’s
medicine woman, and on this night Green Willow was to
be recognized as one as well. Winter Dove clutched
a stone knife, sharpened heavily with a handle that
was shaped like the head of a hawk. She began to
chant slowly, and Green Willow obediently lowered
her head and took her hands out the folds of her
buckskin dress, stretching them out in front of her.
All of the eyes of the village watched as Winter
Dove’s chants grew louder and saw her hands make a
series of gestures over Green Willow’s head. The
crackling of the fire was the only other distinct
sound to be heard. Green Willow felt the sweat begin
to course down her neck. As afraid as she was, she
was more afraid of those fears that were internally
pleading with her to run. But her heart made its
voice resonate throughout her mind and bade her to
stay still.

Suddenly Winter Dove stopped chanting. “Look at
your path, child.”, she said tilting Green Willow’s
face upwards by the chin. Winter Dove had felt a
twinge of sadness mixed with pride as she gazed
upon her granddaughter. Green Willow’s face held a
shiny copper hue, her eyes as dark as night. Her
full lips were set in a tight line. Dark hair fell
past her shoulders, which shivered. With her free
hand, Winter Dove grapsed both of Green Willow’s
wrists and drew the knife swiftly across her palms.
It took all of her spirit for Green Willow not to
cry out in pain. The tears danced at the corners
of her eyes. A helper ran up with two clay bowls.
Dropping the knife, Winter Dove took one bowl and
let the blood drain into it for a minute. She set
that aside and took the other bowl and withdrew
a mixture of leaves and herbs and slapped it on
Green Willow’s wound. Instinctively, she clutched
the mixture tight as it burned hear skin. Winter
Dove then took the first bowl and tossed it into
the fire. The flames rose mightily upward, their
roar slicing through the tense silence.

“It is done. Let the fire and blood mark this day.
The spirits have found another healer!! Step forth,
Green Willow. You are now worthy to be a healer of
this village and this clan.” Winter Dove proclaimed
loudly, finally letting a smile play upon her face.
Green Willow had shut her eyes, but now she opened
them and let go of the poultice. Her hands still
tingled, but the wound was beginning to heal. The
village erupted in cheers and song as she walked
up. Proud Hawk stood beside Winter Dove as she
placed a necklace of bird feathers and wolves’
teeth around Green Willow’s neck, proclaiming her
to be an apprentice healer. Green Willow was twelve
years old.

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