Monday, 30 June 2014

To Engrave a Tetra Star

By Aline-Mwezi Niyonsenga

It surrounded us. A ring untouched in a cyclone inferno, we stood immobile, unable to take our eyes off the hellish blaze. Could it be that we would escape death or would our island haven tighten around us until we too were finally consumed?
As if answering my question, the ring twisted in on itself so that Ambrine and I hugged each other, neither of us squealing, simply waiting.
“Nardone,” my sister whispered. “Do not show them weakness. Do not show them you are weak.”
“We will prove to them we are Gifted. A Minor is nothing.” I repeated along with her.
Of course, it was this vow that kept my lips firmly closed over those cowardly grasshoppers bouncing up and down my chest. As the whirling walls closed ever closer, my hand squeezed Ambrine’s hand and hers mine. Never minding the sweat drenching my body, the dry rasp of my throat, I continued the chant until it amassed a faint glow around our hands. Still this did nothing to stop my brain from losing the oxygen necessary to focus and my tongue began to twist on itself. My sister responded by squeezing my hand harder until both locked fists became halves of one and I made the effort to match her voice again, slowly this time, but steadily.
Never in my eleven years of life did I consider it would all come to an end like this but if it must, as my Gran always said, better be proud than kneeling pitiably. I’ve done my part in this world, time for my energy to be used by the next person.
No, we would not yield to a cowardly death, not at the hands of Fortune Raiders.
Clarity brought a brief waft of cool air in my head as I realized for what purpose I had been brought up like I was. It was to face these vessels of hate with a martyr’s resolve. It was to stand unyielding as they snickered while tightening the field of fire around us.
“But I don’t want to.”
Suddenly, my sister’s grip loosened as she slowly crumbled to the floor. Desperately I tightened my hold on her palm but she had always been the stronger one and my little flow of magic could do nothing to aid her in standing up again. So I kneeled with her. As loud as I could muster, in a sandpaper dryness that scrapped along with my tongue on my chapped lips, I recited our chant, “Do not show them weakness. Do not show them you are weak. We will prove to them we are Gifted. A Minor is nothing.”
“We’re dying, Nardone,” Ambrine whispered. “And for what?”
Finally, I revealed the last line of the chant. My heart rising to my throat, as my eyes squeezed out steam, I nearly mouthed the words, the walls close enough that the pain scorched through my sodden clothes.
“To engrave a tetra star on this earth as a mark of our undying strength through sacrifice-”
I coughed, a bout that wouldn’t end. There wasn’t any saliva left.
“And…” I tried in between coughs, “for that…”
A wave rose to my sister’s throat. Her hand in mine suddenly shook, building with the pressure. The grasshoppers nearly escaped my mouth.
“I would gladly die,” she sobbed.
Relieved, I let go of her hand, ready to let the flames envelop me at last. A cry echoed from far away but I was ready to go. There was nothing more I could do for my sister.
As I closed my eyes, I imagined a boy stepping through the walls of the infernal prison, bearing the crystal eyes and silvery hair of a Cursed born. The last thing I heard before darkness claimed me were his words.
“Neither of you will die, you hear?"
I smiled and let go completely.

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