This is the second installment of the struggles that Cadence faces while living with a family gift. If you missed the first installment, go see the beginning.
A few years later, just a week before Cadence went to college, she began to have a recurring dream. She had been dealing with them for a while, and once she figured them out, they would quit plaguing her. The first had been things she needed to do or fix or even stop from happening, but this one was different. It was old; it was not just old, but ancient. The people were dressed in animal skins mainly, some had a coarse fabric, and they spoke a language that was foreign, but familiar to Cadence. It was not a language she knew, but when she’s in the dream, when she embodied Ceit, she understood everything.
Ceit’s mother was constantly harassing Ceit to hurry. She was going to be late for the fertility rite. Ceit was no older than fifteen, but she understood that she must hurry with her cold bath so she could be taken to the Rite of Damara. She was the chosen sacrifice so her clan could continue to grow.
After she was dressed in the gossamer gown every sacrifice had worn before her, she was taken into the den of The Mother. “Daughter, tonight you are the prize for our warriors. You will be well hidden in the dark forest, so you must be strong. You mustn’t fear of never being found, because they will not stop until the prize is won. Your body is his prize, your virginity is the sacrifice, you will become a woman and a respected wife of the warrior. Do your duty as the strong girl we have learned you to be. Be still as I complete the mourning ritual.”
I know, it’s not Saturday. I really wanted to use this as my first post on my series, but of course it was on my work computer. So here it is:
“Cadie, I’m going to get a few tomatoes out of the garden. Will you keep an eye on Kurt and Grandma for a little bit?” Adilie, Cadie’s mother, asked as she donned her whicker hat and pink floral gardening gloves.
“Ok,” Cadie called from the small bedroom she shared with her younger brother. Since their great-grandmother’s stroke, eight year old Cadence and three year old Kurt had been sharing the smaller of the two spare bedrooms. She snatched her Barbie by the hair and dashed to the living room where Kurt sat glued to the screen of colorful, crime-fighting turtles and her incoherent grandmother rocked aimlessly in her ancient wooden chair.
The blank stare on her once vibrant face unsettled Cadie. Grandma Leila used to baby-sit the two youngsters while their parents were at work until last spring when Cadie found Leila laying on her back porch, unable to be roused. She taught Cadie how to make sandwiches and sweep floors; but most importantly, Leila taught Cadie of her family legacy passed down to the first born girl of every two generations. Cadie had shown signs of having the gift as a baby, but the sight would not completely manifest until she hit puberty, or “became a woman” as Leila always said.
She had felt it was her duty to inform Cadie at such a young age because Leila was getting on in years and Adilie refused to learn, even after Eugene, Cadie’s father, insisted she at least learn basic information. Adilie had referred to this request as “the utterances of a superstitious old lady” and “she wouldn’t poison her daughter with this hocus pocus, mumbo jumbo nonsense.”
Cadie cuddled into the corner of the love seat nearest to her grandmother and peered into her unseeing eyes, much like she had every day since her parents brought Leila home from the hospital, in the hope that her grandma would magically awaken. She prayed every night that her grandma would come back to her. “Please wake up Grandma,” Cadie sighed and looked down at her tattered blonde doll as a tear rolled down her cheek.
“Don’t cry, my darling child,” Leila whispered, startling Cadie. She snapped her head up to see Leila standing in front of her, between her line of vision and her brother’s back. Cadie opened her mouth to speak when Leila put her bony finger on her lips. “Child, remember what I’ve taught you,” she continued to whisper, her voice becoming fainter and fainter. “What you see cannot harm you if you don’t allow them access, block your mind, learn the signs, only confide in those you love, believe in yourself, and know you’ll always have my love. Now close your eyes.”
Cadie did as she was told and felt her grandma’s cool lips touch her forehead, a silent tear escaped the corner of her eye. When Cadie opened her eyes again, her grandmother was back in her chair, stationary, blind to the world. Later that evening, Leila Proctor died peacefully in her sleep.