It was dreadful, the way they covered her in mud. Over her body. Over her face. To her death.
Yes, I know that to do this thing is a custom, a ritual, living history that precedes my opinion and observation by uncounted years but I am a stranger here and I have delicate sensibilities bordering on feminine squeamishness and I cannot reasonably be expected to “go native” in one fell swoop. Frankly, I am scared.
Still, I know I will have to adapt and adjust. No matter what threats they make (or carry out, for that matter) I will never get to go home. I’m sure Lindsay has been contacted and I’m sure he cleaned out my bank accounts while he was still fake-crying on the phone with the fools at the consulate. I don’t blame him. I’d do the same. We fucking hate each other.
This morning a young man with ball-bearing eyes spoke to me though a small sliding panel in the box where they’re keeping me. He was wearing a uniform of some kind but I didn’t recognize it. The sun had not yet risen – it was dark still – but the tunic looked clean, pressed and I thought I could see a few bits of metal on his shoulder indicating rank. Maybe considerable rank.
“Good morning, ” the young man said. His manner was controlled and even. Much more so than I would expect from someone his age. “How long will I be here? ” I asked.
“I don’t want you to ever leave me, ” he replied, “One of us will live forever.” I thought I saw a smile. Maybe not. I wanted so much for him to be human, to be like me, that I can’t say for sure that I didn’t simply believe I saw a smile, no matter how brief. I returned his (real? imagined?) smile.
They covered her in mud, a custom. They wanted me to see this. She was led to believe she was dreaming. She could taste salt and sweet. Her mother’s voice sang and she drifted.
Text and Images © Andrew Auten – All Rights Reserved