Each spring a golden child sprang from the dark bowels of the loving fruitful earth, and the past fifty years I was there to take the children lovingly in my arms. They mewl and cry and thrash like any other children, but none doubt any longer that these children are golden. Did not Tanedorph, born of the earth thirty springs ago, become the greatest chief our people ever saw? Did not Menia, she of the dark eyes and thick curling hair, open up the skin of the earth and teach us all how to bring forth nourishment much more easily? Our golden children shower blessings on us.
But that might come to an end, now. Jassarl was here not long ago, Jassarl of the booming voice and bulky limbs, Jassarl of the curling sneer and the glittering, hateful eyes.
“Damn you, you secretive cunts!” He yelled at me and my sisters. He has no respect for the sisterhood, nor for our quiet and careful stewardship of the womb of the earth. “You’d keep us in the dark forever, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you? Show us the secret! How do you make such good children? How? I must know the secret. Why only one child a year? Why not two, or ten, or twenty, damn you? If we had twenty golden children each year, think what we’d accomplish!” Thus raved the madman, Jassarl who would force his will on Mother Earth herself. But many in the village listen to him, many even of the golden children who have come of age. They wish to betray their mother, as though they knew not from whence they came. My bitter tears and prayers seem not to move any changes in their hearts.
Jassarl came, and Tanedorph, and Menia, and Yalset, and a dozen other golden children along with a hundred common folk. They crowded into the bowels of the earth, where my sisters and I worked so long. They plumbed the tunnels and caverns with their torches until they found the earth womb, and then they took it apart with their hands, clubs, axes, and other tools. They took apart the womb of mother Earth, though I sobbed and begged them to stop. Do not do this thing, do not commit such a crime against the mother of us all, the earth, I said. I watched them dig out square sheets of hard metal, and clumps of strange strings, and much water and viscous liquid, and other things for which I have no name. They disemboweled mother earth, and I sobbed until my tears ran dry. The other sisters cried with me, and we cursed all of them for this desecration.
“How does it work?” Jassarl demanded of us. He shook his fist in our faces and threatened to kill us if we didn’t speak.
“We do not know, she was the mother, not us!” We told him. “You have ruined us all! Look what you’ve done to our mother.”
“Nonsense, what priestly nonsense,” Jassarl glared. The defilers took the womb apart for some time, then scratched their heads when they found no children inside, and no clear understanding either. In their pride they thought they could understand the earth mother. Fools, all of them, but they have covered us in their foolishness as well.
When they could not take the womb apart any longer, they scratched their heads and tried to put it back together again. I didn’t watch as they did it, but when they were finished they’d made it look, at least on the outside, as it had before. Then they apologized — Apologized! — and begged leave of us.
“We have found nothing that we sought,” they said. Jassarl stood off to the side, his face bulging and red and his arms tightly folded on his chest. They bowed their heads slightly to us, out of courtesy, and left. We sisters cleaned up the mess they had made as best we could, and went about our duties. For a time we forgot it had happened.
But, the next spring, no golden child came from the womb. We sisters felt great sadness, and drained our tears again on the cavern floors. The younger sisters are convinced Mother Earth is merely resting, and that a golden child will come next spring. I know better. Our mother will not give us any more children after the abuse she suffered. She will not. News has spread to the common folk, and when I go to the cavern entrance some nights and look out, I see many more torches lit than necessary, and I hear the rumble of drums and the wail of voices. What is happening? Have mother’s children gone mad?
© Douglas T. Vale
Douglas T. Vale lives and works in the northwestern USA.