Disclaimer: The Twilight story and all publicly recognized characters in it are the creation of Stephenie Meyer, and further elaborated and elucidated by all those who brought them to life on the silver screen. I'm just playing in this lovely forest. Homage, not copyright infringement, is the purpose.
Gratitude: To Geo3, who dared me to write this. To averysubtlegift, who beta'd first. To quothme, who straightened out my tenses. To friends and betas who will be mentioned by name in the chapters they midwifed. To the body of work - of literature and myth and fanfiction - from which I draw continuously as I write. To you readers, for venturing into this story.
O our Mother the Earth, O our Father the Sky,
Your children are we, and with tired backs
We bring you the gifts that you love.
Then weave for us a garment of brightness;
May the warp be the white light of morning,
May the weft be the red light of evening,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow.
Thus weave for us a garment of brightness
That we may walk fittingly where birds sing,
That we may walk fittingly where grass is green,
O our Mother the Earth, O our Father the Sky!
"Song of the Sky Loom" ~ Tewa prayer.
The sand and little rocks are all dry and hard and crunchy under my sandals. I can hear every step that I take. Mom and Phil are in the kitchen, back in the house, puttering around with the coffee. She thinks I'm still in the house, too. In my room or something. It's okay. I'm a big girl now. And I haven't really gone that far. The desert starts right at the edge of our yard, after all.
It's almost nine o'clock in the morning, and the sun, my one true love, has already climbed a good way up over the edge of the world. But it's also the beginning of January, and the whole half of the planet where I'm standing is tilted away. I'd wanted to be doing this in summer, when the sun would be hot and strong on my skin, not distant and pale like now. I wanted my last memory of the sun to be warm and close. But I couldn't really say that to anyone, and no one was listening to what I was saying. They were too busy trying to talk me out of it, trying to tell me that there was no need for me to go.
But showing is always stronger than telling. I could see how Mom went all mopey each time Phil went on the road. And I definitely saw the phone bills those two racked up. Now, she's free to go with him. I figure my plane ticket will pay for itself in a month, tops.
The little bit of wood is in my hand. It's knotted and funny-shaped. I don't know whether it was a branch or a root, once upon a time. All the bark, or whatever covering it had, is long ago stripped away. Only the inner wood remains. As smooth and soft and pale as my own skin. It's something I found just laying on the ground on one of my walks. Picked it up. Kept it. Later I started looking for things. Bits of fiber that I stripped from a dried and dead yucca plant. A hard, round little seed of a plant that I don't know, just know that it's a seed. Is it cruel of me to keep it, rather than planting it? But we're not staying here, and who knows what will happen to the little bit of garden Mom and I made, once we're both gone.
So these were things that I'd picked up. Here and there, now and then, a few hundred yards from suburbia, in the desert on the outskirts of Phoenix. Here where it's silent and clean and still. Where the life is hidden – under the sand, in the shadows of rocks, or clinging to tumbleweeds. Where, if the wind is right, you can smell creosote and maybe sage, mixed with the gritty taste of stone. Where the sun bakes you, challenges you to keep enough water in your body to stay alive. Where it's harsh and it's beautiful and it's absolute. And where I'm leaving. Again.
I had braided the yucca fibers into a thin, tough string. Bored a hole through the seed with, of all things, a large sewing needle. That took a long time. I'd threaded the string through the hole, tied the seed onto the scrap of wood.
But it's not quite complete. I still need something. So I'm out in the desert, walking around aimlessly, and the houses are getting smaller behind me. In front of me are mountains. All around me is flat. With lots of rabbit bush and the stray saguaro. And January's weak sun.
I see a tumble of rock. Clumps of little button cactus are squatting in the crevices, where water will condense at night. Their spines have caught one, single little down-feather – from … a roadrunner? Maybe. It's white and fluffy and tiny and perfect. I tie the bit of down onto the souvenir that I've made, winding it on with the yucca thread, next to the seed.
I can hear Mom calling me now. She's frantic because I'm not in the house where she thought I was. Even though she knows that I'm already packed. Even though my flight's not leaving until one. Even though, in all the almost three years that we've lived here, I've never gone out of sight of the house. She worries about mountain lions, I guess.
I'm going to leave my little scrap thing on Mom's dresser. I'm pretty sure she'll see it before she and Phil leave for Jacksonville next week. I wonder if she'll take it with her. Wonder if she'll see it and understand that this is goodbye. That I'm not coming back. That it's Dad's turn, now.
"Song of the Sky Loom" is a translation of a Tewa prayer made by white ethnographer Herbert Joseph Spinden, and published in his book Songs of the Tewa, . This book can be read at sacred-texts dot com.
The Tewa are a tribe belonging to the "Pueblo" group of First Nations peoples whose homeland extends through parts of New Mexico, Arizona, and western Texas. Other well-known tribes in this group include Hopi and Zuni.