Silence, Dawn Child
CHAPTER 1: The BeginningThe sun burst from the darkness and brought new colors to the blackness of the world. I took my first breath of life again. It was like this each day, I was dead- dormant- each dusk until the sun peeked back over the world again. Life and death, such an easy transition, is it not? I have been doing this cycle-living and dying- for almost 15 summers now. I sat up and stretched, rolling my shoulders and adjusting my clothes. Some call me a phoenix in the human guise, but I am the only one who knows otherwise. I'm not a phoenix, nor am I a ghost or zombie, but simply a dawn child of the sun god, who dies and revives as I do. I have many names: a different one for each tribe I have lived amongst. My current name is Domona: sight of the sun, and I am living with an Iroquois tribe in the east. Nearly all my names have some connection with the sun or life or supernatural beings.
I feel no fatigue yet; the night's drowsiness has no hold on me since I wasn't even living during that time. I look at the ground, my long, straight, and healthy honey brown hair curtaining my face. All my life I have been classified as different. I do not have the ebony black hair as the other natives of the mother land nor do I have the light bark colored skin or dark chestnut brown eyes. Instead I have hazel/honey hair and a mix of hazelnut and walnut skin, but the main difference is my eyes. They are a mix of molten gold- like the sun- and fiery orange, like the night's fires. It is these factors that tear me apart from others most of all. I still sit, waiting for my strength to return with the sun. I have time, even the earliest of the villagers I am with do not awaken until the sun is halfway at its peak, and I am with enough strength to begin my morning chores. As I wait, I watch the remnants of the night fade away with the day. With the slightest hint of irony I smile as the stars die and go dormant as I do. We trade places in the cycle of life and death.
Soon I can stand and move around. "I am like a doll, the sun's play toy, and I die when it is his bedtime." I think aloud. Soon the other villagers- the men- awaken and begin their early morning tasks, while the woman I can hear are tending to any children they have. "Domona, what are you doing out in the fields so early? You should be with mother Hantaywee performing the morning prayers." Chayton- the lead farmer asked me. I blinked; I had forgotten that today was the prayer day. It was usually my duty to help the elderly mother of faith with the sacrifices and the speech afterwards. I bowed my head and turned tail towards the temple in the center of town. "Sorry about that I had somehow forgotten today was prayer time." I panted as I ran into the temple, bowing deeply next to mother. She turned to the sound of my voice, but did not look at me; it always scared me to look into the blind gray eyes of mother Hantaywee.
"Domona, you have lived amongst this village for almost a full summer now, how could you forget-and today of all days- to come to the temple?" mother asked me, a stern tone in her voice. I gulped, fearing when she would strike me. "I do not know…" I answered, my voice barely breaking a whisper. Mother sat up from her mat, and tapped my head gently. I hesitated to follow her silent command to look up, but I knew mother did not like to wait. As I lifted my head and rested my hands on my knees, I felt the warm caress if her calloused hand on my cheek. "I do not understand how you could forget your own celebration." She told me with a grin. I would have giggled at my own stupidity as well- had I recognized what it was she was talking about. However I had no inkling, and I looked upon her looking none too intelligent at all. Mother Hantaywee understood my silence and laughed a soft, crackled, old woman's laugh. "I see, you actually do not know of your coming to womanhood. You are of age, you know." She told me.
If she could see my face she would've laughed harder. I could not believe it, technically every day of my lives I always started out anew- a babe in a way. However, all of the other village girls and woman steadily grew- truly grew, and somehow it was astounding to me that the Iroquois- whom I heard were the strictest towards foreigners- would accept me so soon. "B-bu- but how? So soon, mother?" I stuttered, not yet recovering from my initial shock. Mother Hantaywee smiled and cupped my shoulder. "It has been longer than you think, little one." She told me. "We Iroquois know what you are- how your life has been spent, and this is our official way of welcoming you as one of our own." She said.
I leaned back, falling off balance and landing on my back. No, I wasn't supposed to have stayed this long. I didn't know this would happen…I needed to go. Now. I stood up shakily and Mother frowned. "What are you doing, Domona?" she asked. I shook my head, tears forming in my eyes. "I must go. I wasn't supposed to be here this long, Mother. I'm sorry." I replied, kneeling to hug her. As I expected, she didn't hug back. With remorse and sadness I left the temple, breathing deeply when the sun hit me and I glowed a little. "Domona!" Chayton called again. I turned to him, and I had to quickly duck as a flying stone whizzed past my face. "What is this?" I asked irritably. Chayton readied another stone in his slingshot. "You have betrayed the mother you witch!" he yelled. Mother staggered to the door of the temple, her blind eyes suddenly filled with color…a shocking red.
What had I gotten myself into by leaving now? A few years ago in a Hopi village something like this happened. They were going to start worshipping with me after their mother died, and I had to depart. They didn't call me Kachina, the dancing goddess-child any more. Now history was repeating itself, not two years later. I had to duck backwards to escape more stones and Mother Hantaywee staggered towards me, foaming at the mouth. She leaned frighteningly close to my face, and when she spoke, it sounded like many voices, many, many scary, evil, and regal voices. "Domona…you have overstayed you welcome in this land. You have opened your mouth one too many times, and the god of the sun- who watches all and knows all- has seen you're near betrayal. He will not tolerate this childish foolishness from his spawn.
Then, right before my eyes, I saw the gleaming gold and bronze skin of him. The shining head wreath of fiery phoenix feathers and the long, indestructible bow carved from the life trees in heaven. His quiver slung tightly around his muscular chest, and the same, golden and orange eyes that glared disappointedly and angrily at me, and scared me to my core. My father: Tawa- the sun god of all. Like me, he has also traveled to village from village and clan to clan, and has many, many names. He puffed out his chest and pulled back his hand, releasing and striking me across the face so forcefully I was flung into the fields. I rose to my knees, my face sporting a ragged burnt cut next to my eye and bleeding all over, dripping disgustingly down my face and trickling down my neck, staining through my clothes and pouring over the soil.
Tawa manifested before me yet again, his face now sullen and pained. "My daughter, why have you done this so?" he asked me with a whisper. I held my tongue, knowing full well that you do NOT speak to the gods. "Yet again, only two summers ago we had this same confrontation, and yet again you make the same mistake. Now I have to punish you fully, the other gods demand me so." He told me, crying tears of fire that sizzled away as the hit the ground. I gulped. "Ate, I am so very sorry, I have disobeyed you yet again. I can only dare to hope in your presence that I shall be punished accordingly." I replied the mandatory answer. Tawa smiled very minutely at the traditional father term I called him by, instead of 'O great one'. That was the one rebellion he did not kill me for using repeatedly.
"Yes, cunks, I shall punish you. Stand and hear your sentence." He said, I smiled as small as he did at the daughter term he called me by in return. Tawa did love me, I knew this, but alas. He was a god, and not the chieftain god either, not in the Iroquois tribes, thus he had to obey by their rules, and I was no exception to those rules. He kneeled to face me, his height still towering over mine. "You will not be able to speak for ten summers, Domona. Until that time you will continue to live as you do, and if you disobey me yet again, I will be forced to kill you, my sweet child." He boomed softly in my ear. I gasped and cried hard. To have one's speech taken away for a whole decade…just a summer was horrible enough! It took away one's right to voice their mind, their importance. However, I had no choice, and I nodded, knowing that if this happened again father would not hesitate to kill me.
He took his bow and struck my throat with it. The magical powers of it didn't kill me, but I felt the bone-shattering pain of its strike. My mouth opened to cry out but no sound came through, instead the gasps of pain and air that followed after my cry. I could hear myself- an echo in an invisible wind, but not outside of that. I was confined to voice my thoughts to nothing but the wind spirits who could not hear- could never hear. I gazed at Tawa with pained eyes that pleaded for undeserved release, knowing I would not get my silent plea. "Ten summers, Domona. Hopefully you have learned you lesson and will not throw your life away." He spoke sternly, taking the same hard face as when he first appeared. Then, just like that he was gone, fading into nothing but sun dust as he whisked away to the heaven land.
I was met with the once again blind and angry face of mother- who was no longer my mother. "Be gone! May the gods torment you until you rot, and then may your soul be burned in the land of torment!" she cursed me, and I cried even more, knowing I would be unable to repent to her before departing. Instead I was slapped yet again and thrown out of the gates, receiving evil glares of hatred until I could no longer feel them peering into my back and heart. And so my span of silence and punishment has begun. Let it seem shorter than it sounds. I thought in one last plea to the gods and goddesses as I walked weakly away into the woods.