(story note) This is going to be a blast from the past. I am back in the office but still pulled away as I process the reason for being away this week. (which I will go through next week once I sort it all out) Just as a quick idea of what is going on or what happened, we took a family vacation, something that hasn’t happened around her in a long time. There are stories to be had but I am still working through how I will share them with you. I promise not to bore you completely with slides and such. But I learned things and encountered some things I never would have expected. It has been an interesting week all around and quite a bit exhausting as you might expect when traveling with multiple vehicles and small children.
So before I get into too much of the oddity that can be my life, let’s visit a story we haven’t seen in a little bit. (It’s good to be back… JMJ)
Our lives are built around the traditions of our families that came before us. We might not always know or understand the original logic and reasoning that built these traditions but they are still a strong part of who we are.
Sometimes the people who taught us the traditions, who brought us up to know and understand them are no longer there for the biggest moments. The best we can do is carry on and give honor to their sacrifices.
The dress, gossamer and white, had been her mother’s. It bothered her a little that she saw her mother when she looked in the mirror. Beautiful and full of life until the end, her reflection brought up too many memories, too much pain of the time before her end. Sarina loved her mother, but she missed her terribly. There was no justice in the world to take her so soon. She wasn’t done with her yet. They still had so much to talk about.
She turned away from the mirror and picked up the dress. With any luck this would be the dress she passed on to her daughter as well, a legacy from the old family. She slid into the dress and fastened the buttons as best she could. The top buttons were out of her reach and required a second set of hands. Lucy could get it when she let her back into the room.
She choose to wear her hair down, like her mother. And there would be no veil. Terrence would see her uncovered and whole when she joined him. This wasn’t a part of the traditions, but it suited her. She wanted the joining to be as much her as it was the traditions of her family.
She picked up the gloves from the bed, the last part of her dress. Long and white, a matched set to the dress, but the material was different, soft doe skin leather. Her grandmother had tanned the hide from her grandfather’s first joined kill. He provided their first feast and the materials to clothe them in the joining. Today, Terrence would hunt the first kill of their joining, another tradition.
Sarina turned and twisted in the mirror, an effort to see how the dress looked from every angle. So much like her mother, it hadn’t been altered and still fit her perfectly.
“You’re beautiful,” Lucy said. She stood in the doorway, the door knob still in her hand.
“You were supposed to wait,” Sarina said. “I wasn’t ready.” She crossed her arms. The leather scratched and chafed her skin so she let them fall to her sides. She motioned for Lucy to come into the room.
Lucy’s face filled with her smile. “Mother lives through you,” she said. The smile fell away when it was confronted by Sarina’s frown. “Sorry, it’s the dress. You look so much like her right now.”
Sarina turned back to the mirror. “Can you button the last few? I can’t reach them.”
Lucy brushed Sarina’s hair over her shoulder then fiddled with the buttons. “I still can’t believe that this dress has survived for so long,” she said. “You honor mother’s memory today.”
“Mother should be here with us,” Sarina said. “I still can’t believe she’s gone.”
Lucy pressed her sister’s shoulders and spun Sarina to face her. “You lead the family now. Mother wasn’t your fault,” Lucy said. “Quit taking credit for the problems of the world.”
“I loved her,” Sarina said. Tears filled her eyes and spilled over to her cheeks.
“Be strong. It is all she has ever asked of you.” Lucy pulled her close and crushed her body in a tight grip. “I will always be here for you.”
“Don’t be stupid,” Sarina said. “You will have your own joining at some point. It is our way.”
“But we will always be sisters.” Lucy stared at their reflections in the mirror, noted but said nothing of the differences in their faces. She had gotten her fathers features, sharp, precise. Sarina looked so much more like their mother with her father’s nose. The differences were pronounced when they stood together, only their raven black hair of their mother displayed their shared heritage.
Sarina smiled at her sister’s reflection. “Go,” she said. “Check on the arrivals. I will be ready and be with you soon.”
Lucy squeezed her sister’s shoulder then moved to the doorway. “Be strong,” she said, then stepped out into the hall. The door closed behind her with a soft click.
Sarina scanned her reflection one last time and took a deep breath. “You never told me that the joining would be so difficult, mother.” She glanced at the picture of her mother she kept beside the bed. “What was it like for you, at your first joining? Were you frightened? Did your mother prepare you?”
She knew the answer to that last question already. Her grandmother passed before her mother’s joining. Another tradition, another part of the life and heritage she wished she wouldn’t have to pass on to her own daughters. But it didn’t matter, the cycle repeats. One day her own child will stand before a similar mirror and question the future laid before her. She might even curse her mother that day, curse her and miss her for not being there on the day of her joining.
Sarina stopped at the hall door. She scanned the room one last time before she opened the door. “I will return,” she said. The room didn’t acknowledge her. The dust settled around her and the room as if she didn’t matter to the life that would go on when she was gone.
Music carried from the first floor, to meet her at the top of the stairs. As if on cue, the orchestra changed songs to announce her entrance into the hall. The collective gaze of the guests on the floor below turned to watch her entrance into their midst. The majority of the guests were inside the main hall. Those at the bottom of the stairs were old family and friends, close ties from her old life.
Lucy met her before the doors to the main hall. “Terrence hasn’t arrived yet,” she said. “I think he wants to make an entrance.”
“What should I do?”
“He will be here,” Lucy said. “He knows the traditions. Go. Enter the hall.”
Sarina bit her lip with a silent snarl, then followed the open path to the main hall doors. The music changed again, an announcement that she was about to enter. A sudden scrape and scuffle assaulted her ears from beyond the doorway as the guests in the hall stood at once. She bolstered her courage with a sigh and stepped into the hall.
As the tradition she walked the aisle to the join the waiting officiate at the front of the hall. She made it to halfway when a ruckus broke over the sound of the orchestra. Voices and shouts disrupted the proceedings. Terrence rushed into the hall from a side door. A small group of men followed in his wake.
He was dressed in a grew striped tuxedo with a velvet grey top hat. The suit was the tradition, the dress his father wore before him and his grandfather before his father. The tradition was completed with the bound girl over his shoulder.
Unlike the pomp and fancy dress that the guests and the bride and groom wore, this girl was close to naked. She wore a black nightie and gold cord bound her ankles and her wrists. If she had been sleeping, it didn’t matter now. She screamed and squirmed on Terrence’s shoulder but he held her fast. He marched at a hurried pace to the front of the hall, to join the officiate.
Once at the front of the hall he dropped the girl in front of him and placed a foot on her chest to keep her pinned down. She fought, squirmed, wiggled, begged, but could not break free. The guests ignored her and Terrence turned his attention to Sarina as she joined him.
Terrence took Sarina’s hand in his and looked into her eyes. “I have brought you sacrifice,” he said. The words of tradition, her moments of fear and dread slipped away as they stepped into the rites of their world.
“I accept your tribute,” she said.
Terrence pulled the girl from the floor and wrapped an arm tight across her upper body. He then gripped her chin and turned her head to the side to expose her neck. “Feast.”
Sarina’s fears and misgivings slipped away as she leaned into the waiting neck. She kissed it at first, soft and slow. When she caught the scent of meat from the offering, she licked her lips and bit deep into the girls neck.
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