Writing prompt: REVENGE
Tonight they’ll sing of I know not what because I do not understand their language, but they have told me, by gestures and movements, that each will sing alone as well as in chorus, and that I’m expected to sing.
Singing is a frightening idea. I do not sing in the shower, never have, and even if I manage to break out of here and find my way back to that old life of showers, combs, comfortable beds and warm food, probably never will.
But singing in front of all those men and women takes frightening to a new level, because in the time spent here, I’ve seen what happens to those who are deemed embarrassing in front of the evening crowd.
Through the crack in my wooden prison wall, I can see a beehive of activity. Since the prison hut is just a few steps below the Chieftian’s, it is higher than the rest of the village. I watch the preparation for tonight’s singing under the moonlight, the painting of faces, the sharpening of knives and teeth, the polishing of drums and cymbals. But above this hum, a noise draws near, and one by one all heads rise towards the source of the ruckus.
I cannot believe my eyes what my eyes see next, because into the clearing walks a child, a girl no older than ten or eleven, dark-skinned, with large silver anklets on her feet that plink and jangle with each step. She is not wearing much, not that I can see, only her hair, long, rough and cloud-like, that falls below her knees. The crowd around her is silent.
Someone has called the Chieftian–and this strikes me as odd, his walking into the clearing in daylight. All are summoned to his hut, this is the first time protocol has been reversed, for an admittedly strange, but nevertheless young girl.
A woman’s voice booms, but it has emerged from the lips of the dark little girl. It throws me, but it terrifies the Chieftian and his men. Women gather their children and back away towards their huts.
Rough hands grab me by the shoulders and stand me up, and I find myself being hurried out to the clearing. None of the usual shoves and cuffs, though.
When I reach, the Chieftian is on his knees, and though I do not understand his language, it is impossible to miss his air of supplication. His sweat reeks as much of his fear as his posture: here is a monster of a man begging for his life from a child.
I look at her staring the Chieftian down. She senses my gaze and looks up. In those eyes I see rivers of light. It is the gaze of a mare upon her foal, but there is also the adoration of a child towards its mother. Her eyes wash over my skin like a warm towel after a long, dusty journey– they touch my head, smooth my hair.
“Come, my child,” the voice purls up at me in clear, ringing English, “I have been a long time waiting.”
As I step towards her, the back of my naked legs are splattered with a warm liquid, all the way up to my buttocks. Without thinking, I look back, and down. It is the Chieftian’s blood. He lies in the dust, or what is left of him, because he has no head. My mouth opens in a wordless scream and I take a step back.
“A long time waiting, my son, this will be sweet revenge indeed. Let us sing.” The voice pours into my ears like viscous, warm honey before I pass out.