Remember, they chorused.
The memory filled her mind, pushed against the bones of her skull until it ached from the pressure. The clarity of detail was precise. The years flowed away. Her mother’s long black hair glistened under the moonless sky as she bent over the nest of blankets, her breath cool and sweet, the creature of darkness she’d become after the rebirth. Basilia could feel the slender too-smooth fingers trace her infant cheek, heard the words resonate in her bones, and tasted ashy smoke.
Embrace the flames. Seize the pain. The god will love you.
The earth stirred. The rumble of impatience brought a smile to Basilia’s face.
Her time had arrived.
The northern solstice marked the arrival of the Summer of Joy. A melody fluttered up from the village square, already the musicians played in front of the fountain, the delicate notes drawing dancers from repose. The festival of Verano de Alegria began in earnest as morning dawned.
The inhabitants gathered, awaiting her descent.
The fragrance of flowers filled her nostrils, stoked the hunger deep inside until she thrashed on the narrow bed. White blooms hung heavy around the window, laden with nectar, and ripe for tasting. The blossoms framed her only view. Rainfall during the night had washed the air clean of late spring heat and her pulse skittered with excitement as she threw off the woven blanket and slid from the warm comfort of her cocoon. A sliver of azure glowed on the horizon, separating sea from sky. Her toes curled away from the chilled tile of the floor and the knowledge struck her that she’d never sleep here again.
Her solitude ended, this life ceased and Basilia’s new existence began.
The thumping of drums and the piping of flutes echoed up the twisted path to the sanctuary door. Heat pooled in her stomach. Anticipation built. Tonight she planned to open herself to the god beneath the smoking mountain. Finding her worthy, she would awaken tomorrow sated by his carnal lust and carrying his sacred seed.
Some in the community no longer believed but the whispered voices spoke their names aloud. Too many youth allowed their responsibilities to wane.
Basilia had not.
This was the way of her people. Verano de Alegria was her season. She’d been born to this honor.
The old ones whispered again.
Tomorrow when the earth cracked open and she rose from the fiery crevice, whole and intact, the doubtful would bow before the goddess-made-manifest.
She released the loose tunic; let the soft thin fabric slide over her head, the red color caressing her breasts like the delicate touch of bird wings. She swayed in sync with the musical trill and nodded her agreement.
They will burn with joy.
Flash Fiction Challenge: Song Shuffle Stories @ www.terribleminds.com