“The Night of the Sun”
WE knew it would happen all along. The Moon-Haired Elder had said so when he caught her mother under the elm tree, licking her fingers. He pulled her fist open and saw inside her hand the blood-red juice of the brook’s berries, the ones no one touches, the ones that kill. But she could, because she was born on a day when the sun went black and that’s how we knew that she was going to die during another darkness and take our memories with her.
She was skinny as a new-born doe but we loved her above all the young. She alone among the women was allowed to eat with the Elders. She was not strong. She stayed awake all night, even after that long wandering, when the angry sky-water carried all our things with it and we had to leave so many of us behind, stiff with frost and hunger.
She didn’t know how to sleep but she knew how to bring us food, how to quiet the anger of the earth, and how to frighten fear. Her mother told us that she never saw the little one close her eyes. The babe used to cling to her nipple and stared at her until the woman fell asleep. As soon as the child learned the way of the woods and when the sky was darkest, she’d leave the tent and walk into the night. And we let her, because we knew she was the only one who knew how to talk to the Shadows. By morning, we would find her sitting on a rock, naked, on the white earth of winter and asked her what the woods had told her. But she said nothing, for the darkness had stolen her words.
My sister. She’s still inside my eyes. I was already thick with child when she was born. She was not good for woman’s work but her breasts began to grow just as she learned to walk. The younger men never looked at her face. They were afraid of her, for she had the power to send people and beasts to the sky.
The best among the Elders lay with her even before she bled, because they knew that she could keep things alive. She always stayed outside, her eyes fixed on the stars, always the same ones. She was able to see them even during those nights when the clouds erase all light.
Some of the men had brought her mother from the other side of the Great Mountain during the spring gathering. Her people gave her to us for fifty bear furs and many shiny stones. She had big eyes, the color of rivers, and did not speak our words. Maybe that’s how her child learned the ways of silence. But as soon as she was swollen with her, water began to fall from the sky and it did not stop. It became thicker as her belly grew. And we were hungry because the beasts hide when the sun is wet for too long. So the Elders wanted to send the stranger to the woods and feed her to the wolves. They thought they had angered the clouds by bringing a woman with water-colored eyes. But they didn’t. And they were right, for when her child was born, the sun came back and the trees were heavy with fruit. The rabbits and deer jumped around stupidly, so our men returned from the hunt with more food than we could eat. And the pups of wolves walked silently to our fires, following the smell of burning fat, and stayed with us. They had heard their mothers’ calls in her moans and never returned to the woods. They said she had a wolf inside her.
The rock where the Stranger bore my Sister is still red with her blood. We have stretched our furs in many places since then, but every year, in the hot days, we go back there. The she-wolves call for their lost pups, and their young point their ears and scan the night with their noses trying to find their howls. Sometimes when they sleep, they whine softly, looking for mothers they no longer remember.
As she grew taller, she spent her hours in the brook and then sat under the Mother Tree, licking the mud off the colored pebbles she picked in the bank. But after her mother drowned, she walked through the frozen prairie clapping her hands and beating the ground with her feet. We didn’t know why. My mother said that she was trying to wake up the worms and the snakes that hide inside the ground, to come and help her. And she ran by the edge of thecliff quickly, as if she had no weight, making quiet noises with her lips and her tongue, like a ghost who’s no longer allowed to scare.
We were all afraid of the Shadows she’d bring along when she came back at night, so we made large fires and burnt our best-smelling twigs to keep them away. But she always stayed still, sitting on the white earth until we fell asleep again and the clouds became pink again. Many moons later, she came back, mumbling sounds she’d learned from the beasts that our fathers had killed long ago. And other sounds, too. The rattle that the chest makes when one runs, and whines and yawns and hiccups. We all sat and listened. The children did not move. And when she stopped, we yelled and asked her to make her sounds again.
After the great sky-water took us to the other side of the hill, the men did not want to go to the new river, because they had to climb very high and then go down a steep, slimy slope. Besides, the water there was very fast, and the fish too.
My Sister stayed away from us for a long time after the river took her mother away. I saw what happened that day inside my eyes, because she told it to me. But she also saw it inside of hers because she had been there.
The woman was sent to the river after the angry sky-water had passed. We had nothing to eat and the Elders thought she could find food in the water since she had the colors of the river in her eyes. The women and children scraped the rocks to get those shells that stick to them, and dug the sand to find the ones with many legs, for they are sweet to eat after you burn them.
But the hunger did not want to go away. So the Elders gave the Stranger a long, angry stick, one of those that men take to the pools where fish sleep. She should not have been sent there. The river was fast and it was hard to walk down rocks. Besides, that water did not belong to us.
But she did as she was told. She left with the sharp stick in one hand and a pouch on her back and walked slowly over the rock. And her feet were small. When she got to the top, her toes could not grab the wet stones and she fell again and again, and she was dead, again and again. Every time she was alive again, her arms and her legs were asleep, so she could not hold onto to the skin of the rock, and she fell and was carried away by the foam of the river who took back his colors from her eyes.
So since her child had no one, my mother said she was now to be my sister. And that was good because, after I was born, my mother did not make any more children. And my sister loved her. But my mother was loved by everyone. Because she brought us the best shells to wear around our ankles and legs, and rubbed our faces with flowers and sweet leaves everyday right before sunrise, so their colors and smells would stay on us. And she covered our hair with colored mud she brought from the riverbed and painted lines and dots on our bodies with feathers. She also poured it on our heads, smoothing it with a fish bone. She split our hair into long bands and then, turned them tight, and when the mud dried, we were good to look at. And that’s how our hair stayed away from our eyes when we picked nuts under the sun, and when we chewed on the skins of the catch at night.
The Elders said that my mother should cover the hunters’ bodies with the her best colors. And she did. But when they failed to bring us food, she shaved their heads with a sharp stone until their scalps bled and they had no colors on their heads to keep the cruel sun away. And she rubbed the blackest ashes from our fires in their mouths so they would look toothless, like newborns and old men, and they were alone, because no one wanted to look at them.
But for me and my sister, mother saved the brightest colors and made lines and waves on our faces, and on our arms and legs. She also wet our hair and wrapped it around our necks and she piled it high upon our heads. Then she pulled some strands down and rubbed them with fat, so they were soft and shiny all day, crawling down our backs like laughing snakes.
My sister was no longer feared because my mother loved her, but also and above all, because she taught our people something nobody knew. She showed them how make strange sounds that everyone wanted to learn. That is why she and I were allowed to sleep near our brightest fires and eat the first meats of the catch, with the Elders and the hunters. Mother added more fat to my sister’s hair whenever we gathered to see her make those sounds she knew, and her pretty head snakes followed her as she jumped up and down, skipping like a doe in heat, until she ran out of air and collapsed, laughing.
This happened only during those nights when the moon does not come out and our fires are most bright, and we sit on the ground and eat the guts and the sweetest fat of the catch.
The Blind Elder said that he could see my sister prancing and making her noises inside his eyes. And that she should wear a deer skin around her waist and eat before anyone. At times, she walked inside the belly of the Mother Mountain and stayed there all day, doing her shivers and noises, and the earth did not shake again. But one day, her flesh got hot and red and wet. We thought she was going to get cold and never open her eyes again; that we would not know how to stop the shake of the Great Mountain; that we would have to cover her with flowers and leave her alone there so the earth would think she was a prairie.
During those days, we heard the earth scream again, louder than ever, and the Mother Mountain began to crumble. So, we asked the Moon-Haired Elder what the rocks had said, but he told us that only serpents understand Her words and that we had not learned to speak to them yet. Only my sister’s noises made sense to them, but now she was still and pale. So we all stayed very quiet by her side for many days. Everybody knows that, mountains don’t like to hear the cries of our babes or the sighs of our dead when they rage.
But one morning, her body stopped shaking and her mouth and her eyes had colors again. She told us that the Mother Mountain wanted us inside her -- that She would fall and swallow us all unless we learned to make the sounds she had taught her to make. And so we did. First she taught the little ones. They were the only ones who were not afraid. The younger women came next, and then a few of the men, the ones who had not learnt the hunting ways yet. Later, the older ones learned them too, though they didn´t want to. They did it after they tasted the juice that scares fear away. My sister made it from those berries she picked every day, the ones that kill. When you keep them and they begin to shrink, they bleed, and their juice becomes the blood of ghosts. It stings the tongue and makes you laugh and then sleep as if you were dead. The juice was bitter, but it made us dream when we were awake and laugh, and tumble, let us make the sounds our Sister makes. It tasted like the water one drinks when one is thirsty in a dream.
That night, we spent many hours making her sounds, drinking the ghost juice, and hitting the ground with our feet just as she taught us. When they drank it, the men became numb, they didn’t want to wake up so they went to the hunt very late. But the beasts were numb too, as if they also had been drinking the ghost juice all night. So, we ate till our bellies were full of sweet meat and stinking air.
But then it happened. When my sister grew tall, she only wanted to stare at the Sweetness Hunter, our new boy. He was different from us too, just like her. He’s gone now but we can still see him when we close our eyes. He was strong but had no hair on his face. I don’t know why he was allowed to follow the hunters because he never returned with a catch. One day, he came back with a big fruit filled with sticky juice. His hair was the color of the sky just before the sun goes away.
While the men followed the deer, they sent the young hunter to watch the land uphill at the spot where the boar and her cubs grazed. He could see the hunters from there, taking their places, and then, closing-in on the animal and her young and scaring them into the slant of the rock to see them fall. The Moon-Haired Elder had taught them the old hunting ways. He said that he had learned how to trick the beasts from one of his Fathers, who had learned it from the wolves, back when people understood what animals said and before their young began to follow us and become people.
And this is how it happened. The young hunter lost track of our men. He was afraid, alone. But suddenly, he saw the animal we all love and fear, the black bear. He was eating, so the young hunter hid under a bush. He wanted to know what he was eating. The bear ate softly, as if he didn’t want to hurt the food. And the food was beautiful, a golden fruit with many tiny holes.
As he heard the rustle, the beast turned around. He dropped his food on the ground and started walking towards the young hunter. He stayed still and the bear looked at him, came close, smelled him. The hunter felt the animal’s wet breath on his face and it looked at him with his tiny, black eyes for a long time. But then he walked away and started to look for the food he had lost. He hid first, and then ran fast and jumped on the bear’s back and stuck his spear into his chest. And the bear scratched him hard, again and again. And the hunter plunged into his flesh harder still, until both were locked in a bloody embrace. The bear’s eyes were still fixed on the hunter’s, when he opened his mouth and yawned out his pain.
He waited, holding his breath, because the bear’s eyes were still looking at him. When he saw that the animal was not moving, he picked up the fruit and ran. Then, he held the thing and smelled it. He licked it and sucked it, just as the bear did. And so, he understood why the animal did not eat it with his teeth, but with his lips and his tongue.
The sun-haired hunter brought the fruit to us. We had never seen anything like it. We all licked and licked and we licked the bear’s scratches on the boy’s flesh too. We thought his wounds would be as sweet as the fruit. But my sister did not eat. She just stared at him with a frightened smile. And he looked at her, walked to the spot where she was crouching; broke a small piece of what was left of the shell of the fruit and put it on her lips.
And the men were angry. They had never killed anything sweet. So the Elders told my mother to paint black lines around the young hunter’s lips. They said that, from now on, he should wear shame on his face because he had stolen the pride of his brothers’ eyes. And that day, just as the sun was leaving, they went to the brook where my sister and I were playing and The Elders took her. They told my mother to cover her face with water lines and bring her to the edge of the sea. They made her lie on the sand, and then, one by one, forced their stiffness into her. And she spoke no word, but the water in her eyes erased the waves and clouds that my mother had painted on her cheeks. I saw the redness in between her legs, and the whiteness that men leave inside us. And her toes trembled, but not like when she jumped up and down and did her pretty screams for us. I held her hard and asked her to make the eye-water stop. And we stayed there, alone, listening to each other’s breath. I think that was the first time my sister slept.
As the sky grew red, I helped her walk back to our fires. When we arrived, the women covered her with shells and my mother drenched her tresses in wet clay and covered her face with ash, and the Elders gave us the best part of the deer to eat. And our children splashed on her body the berry juice she had made for us, and we all made the noises she had taught us. Her eyes were open now, but they did not shine. And the darkness came. She got up and walked away on the white earth, naked, just as she used to when she was small. And we didn’t see her until the moon was round again.
When she came back, she brought tiny blue fruits for the young hunter. She looked at him while he ate. And her breath got thick, as if she were trying to smell the sea under the waves. She started to make her pretty noises again. And the more she looked at him, the stranger her noises were. He clapped and she pranced like never before, until she fell without any air left inside her. So the young hunter picked her up and carried her to the mouth of the Mother Mountain. It was far, so he ran, holding her.
She later told me that when they got there he was very tired, that he lay down and slept, still holding her, and that she stared at him till day came, in happy fear. When he woke up, she opened her legs, sat on his face and rubbed his lips with the pink flesh.
Time passed, but the night didn’t want to get dark, and the wolves did not howl. She listened to his breath and invented noises that sounded like those her mother made when she clung to her breasts, staring at her. We all learned them, but we don’t make them now. We can’t stand to listen to them because, whenever we do, we remember her. And she’s been gone for long and we don’t want to see her Shadow, unless the Great Mountain shakes or there’s no sky-water. Then, we need her.
My mother still paints river colors around our eyes, like those the Stranger had inside of hers, and cuts lines into the chests of the young men like those the bear left on the young hunter’s flesh. And I still close my eyes and see the two of them inside the belly of the Mother Mountain, holding on to each other like twins waiting to be born, or already dead.
The Moon-Haired Elder said that we must forget her. He went on doing what he always did, teaching our men how to sharpen stones. But one day, he cut his wrist as he worked and his hand got swollen and full of thick white juice, and worms started to grow inside. We kept taking them out but they kept growing back. The women searched for the best leaves to rub on the hand but then, it stop moving and it turned hard, black and smelled dead.
The Blind Elder said that we had to cut it away from him, or else he would turn black and die. So, the best among our hunters brought their sharpest stones. Some held him down and the strongest one came down on the wrist of the Elder and tore his hand off. And our Elder screamed and we screamed too. We had never heard our voice cut into the air that way ever before.
Then his hand was alone. So, we took it. Made a hole in the sand, and spat on it with our eyes full of water. We were afraid that we would never eat again now that our Moon-haired Elder’s hand had lost its voice.
We brought some of those shining stones my sister picked up from the brook and placed them around the quiet fingers. And we spoke to them. All of us spoke to them, we didn’t want them to be quiet because they had made our stones cruel, and fed our fires with the scent of fast flesh. And so it happened that the wise hand became the food of those small beasts that crawl on the sand. And that is why they learned to walk in all directions, just as the Elder’s fingers did when they shaped our stones.
But his arm remembered what his hand once knew, so he kept teaching our young men how to make their stones hurt. Women were not allowed to listen to his lessons, but my sister and I did. We hid behind the bushes and learned them too.
We were sent with our children to find nuts and fruits in the woods everyday. Only some of the older among us knew which ones were bad and killed, even if they were sweet. That if you ate them, you went stiff and cold and could not speak anymore. Others were good, so we saved those for the hungers, though they were so bitter.
The children piled them into small mounds by color. They set the round ones on one side, the long ones on the other, the soft ones apart from the hard. And then they wrapped them into bundles in dried hare gut. No one was allowed to touch them till the angry hunger came, but we all wanted them because they were good to the teeth and the tongue.
Sometimes, at night, we gathered around the Moon-Haired Elder to hear the stories he had learned before we killed his hand. One day, he explained to us why the Moon was not with us sometimes; that the Darkness wanted to catch Her in his cloud. So, she hid in the Sun’s Light. And there she waited quietly and then ran fast.
He also told us why the Moon got more and more round as the days passed. He said that it was because the Sun loved her more than He loved anything, so he made her thick with stars. And we knew he was right. There were so many more of them after the Sun scared the Darkness away. Some of the babe lights could not hold on to the sky and fell, and we all ran to catch them. The Elder said that we were stupid. That stars were not like fish or fruit. That, no hand can get a hold of them. And that when we try, they run away and fly around our fires, jumping up and down, making fun of us. Some are red and fly away. Some are pale blue and fly about. They are the youngest children of the Moon, who get lost playing in the dark and can’t find their way back to their mother’s clouds. We love to see them when they come and stay quiet and don’t fly away. We blow hard on their tiny wings to help them go back. But they can’t. They fly into our fires because they think their mother may be there and they burn. We don’t know how to keep babe stars alive.
Then he told us why the sky-water goes cold and makes the land white. It’s because the Sun gets tired of shining. Like our men, He doesn’t want to work sometimes. But then, He wakes up. He looks at the Moon and smiles hard at Her. She’s so good to look at! And, she becomes sweet water.
She’s not like us, women. As they pass by us, day in and out, we get thinner and pale. Our hair turns white and then we cannot walk, get cold and blind one day, and fall asleep forever. And the Moon’s smile fades when Sun does not look at her and the land’s tears become as white as our hair. But soft, too, like the words we mutter to our children when their eyes can’t stay closed at night.
And that’s what the Moon-Haired Elder said before he left us. We found him asleep one day, curled up like a babe. We spoke to him and shook him but he didn’t want to wake. We burnt sweet branches for his nose and eyes to open. We shook him hard and talked to him loud. But he didn’t want to move. He did not want to listen. He was very tired. So, we carried him to that spot in the beach where we had buried his wise hand, but the Cold was hard and we couldn’t stay by his side when it got dark. The Wind was angrier than ever that night, so we covered him with our best furs and left him there, alone. Our Moon-Haired Elder, the Elder we loved most. Sometimes the Wind tries to sound like him and tells us stories. But we can’t understand them. He speaks with strange words, but doesn’t explain anything. He does not listen to us, like our Elder did.
And time past. After we all ate from the sweet fruit there was nothing left but the wax shell. We asked the young hunter to get us more, but he couldn’t find another. And we hated him, because we thought he had kept another one, just for my sister and himself to lick. So one day, when the women were sorting out our berries, one of them saw a fruit that looked just like the young hunter had stolen from the bear. It was hanging from a tree-branch, all the way up, but it was covered in a cloud of flies. Fat flies, yellow and black. Some of our children climbed the tree to get it, but the angry flies fell on them and made their bodies red and swollen with their buzzing bites. We tried to make the mean flies go away. And soon one of the women-children was red and could not pull air into her breath. So we ran away and left her there, because we didn’t want to catch her madness.
One of our women walked back to the men and said that the Sweetness Hunter had lied. That he did not steal the fruit from the bear, as he had said. That the fruit grew in the branches of the large elm tree. They all saw it. So they came on him when he slept and cut his flesh raw, deeper still than the bear had. He fought hard to get away and called out for my sister, but she did not hear him. He called for us, too, but we stayed away. And then, the Sweetness Hunter had nothing left to bleed. Our brothers’ stones were hard on him. Then the wolves came, the brothers of those who crawled into our tents as pups followed the smell of his flesh, and we all ate. When the darkness came, all that was left of the swift body of the Sweetness Hunter was some flesh still clinging to his bones and his sunset hair.
My sister went blind when she saw him. She did not speak or eat and again, she forgot how to sleep. She ran into the Mother Mountain. And we feared her again, because we knew that the Mountain loved her and would turn her pain into the loudest thunder. But we were wrong. She returned one day, thick with child. One night she made one, and was born without breath. Then, she made another one, who screamed when he came out of her and took to her breast. The silent one looked just like the one that suckled, they were the same. The Blind Elder said that the one that was still born had to be burnt, because one is allowed to have only one shadow. So the ashes of the silent babe were left in the belly of the Mother Mountain. And we tried hard to forget him. But the one that screamed was strong. He sucked so hard he made my sister’s nipples bleed. And we loved him. He had the colors of the sunset in his hair, like the young hunter we had killed. And he had river eyes, like that stranger, my sister’s mother.
Soon he was crawling all over our furs and all the women wanted to hold him, and all the children wanted to play with him. He was the best of us. But my sister was afraid of him, because he followed her with his eyes all the time -- hungry eyes, as if asking her for something she did not know, or have. Sometimes he laughed for no reason. Other times he stared at a small stone he held in his hand without blinking all day. The Blind Elder said that he would become our greatest hunter. That one day he would make us strong. That because of him people would remember us until the sun left the sky forever.
He followed his mother all the time, quietly. One day he hid behind a tree and saw her running on the frozen lake naked, her arms wide open, embracing the air. He heard her scream beautifully, but he didn’t understand her sounds. Suddenly, he tripped over the slimy stones and she turned around. She thought she was alone with the Shadows. She grabbed him and hit him, again and again, and the child cried. She said, “These Shadows are mine!” And then she pushed him hard and he fell and he ran fast. She sat on the ice, like she used to when she was small, the eye-water came out. The blows she had put on the small face hurt her hands. Then, the Shadow of the woman with River Eyes came to her and whispered loud. “Cover your face, only a cruel tree can hurt its fruit!”
And my Sister came back to our tents and looked for her child. But he hid from her. When she found him, she walked towards him slowly, offered him her hands and lowered her head, and the child came running to her and held her hard. He wanted to crawl inside her belly again and stay there. But he couldn’t, so he fell asleep in her arms. She looked at him and made the most silent sound ever heard and her shame left.
As soon as he learned to run well, he followed our hunters. And he listened to them, too. He saw how they took the young deer and put a fast stone just where the neck throbs loudest, so the beasts didn’t have time to understand what had happened to them. And he learned. But my sister told him that he had to do something more, something no one else ever had, that it was time, and she sent him away. The boy was gone for many sky-waters. He went looking for animals that no one had seen, fruits never tasted, new creeks, harder stones, but could not find them. Soon he was tired and hungry and cold. He sat under the elm tree, shivering, and fell asleep. The bear heard his breath and approached him. The young-hunter woke up and stopped breathing, just like the other one did, the sunset-haired one. And the beast touched his face with his wet nose and looked at him with his small black eyes for a long time, as if asking for his name, or as if he already knew him. And the young-hunter stayed still and looked back at the animal, as if greeting him. Then he took his stone and cut the animal’s throat just where the neck talks. And it moved no more. But kept his eyes open, just as that day when the Sweetness Hunter had wounded him so long ago. The boy came back, after many nights, dragging the bear’s head. And we all wanted to touch him, like we touched the other hunter, the one we killed.
One day, our Sun, was covered by another one, a black one, just as the one that appeared on our skies when my sister was born. We asked her to talk to the black Sun and make him go away, but she couldn’t do it. A thick fear swallowed us and a thunder screamed inside us all. We asked her to call the Shadows and she did, but they did not answer. Then our silence grew and pulled us deep down into a place of hate where we could not hear or see.
Some of the women fell on her and hit her hard many times with our men’s best stones. Hard. Until their bodies had no strength. But she got up, for she was strong, and ran. But they caught her, grabbed her by her hair, hit her harder still, till she had no sound to speak. And they brought her to the tent of the Blind Elder.
And this happened. Forget not that this happened!
All our women, the old and the young, bound her hands and feet and she struggled to get away from us and screamed. So one of us put some of our best herbs in her mouth and waited until she stayed still. Then we all kissed her forehead and ran our fingers through her face so she could see them and smile one more time. She had to stay. She had to stay so our Sun would never get dark again. And that is how it happened, that’s how my sister became our food and how we kept the Sun, alive shining above us.
Each one of us was given a sharp blade. And she stayed still, with her eyes wide open. Her child ate one of her nipples, the right one. Her other nipple was burnt and its ashes were taken to the belly of the Mother Mountain, to feed that cold Shadow she bore, the babe that never got to drink from her.
But this time her eyes had no water. She held on to pain hard while we ate her. I begged our oldest hunter to stick his sharpest stone in her heart, so she could not look at us, but he said no. She had to be waking food, so she could stay alive within us forever.
And that is how we ate her.
The Blind Elder said that the taste of her flesh in our tongues would feed our words and songs forever.
She looked at me one last time and smiled as her heart went silent.
My sister. The one I took to the brook to play with the wolf pups when she was small. Now, they were grown wolves. They licked what was left of her, whining softly.
We have worn her body upon us with pride since then. The children were given her smallest bones, the ones from her fingers and toes. My mother bounded them tight with the finest deer gut and painted them red-bright, so that one day our men-children’s fingers could launch their spears far and wide, whistling hard, strengthened by my Sister’s whispers. The bones from her swift feet were reserved for the women- children, so they may run just as fast. The older women, the women who had been swollen with child more than once, wore her ribs around their waists, the ones that housed her air, that breath we loved and made her noises. My mother had the tool-makers cut the long bones of her legs into rings for the hunters to wear hanging around their necks. The large bone of her hips, the one that held her two children -- the one who spoke with his silent brother -- was kept for the Elders to drink from during the cold days and the hot days gatherings. And my mother drank from her, too. As my sister lay dying, she turned our tresses tight and painted on our cheeks those water lines again, those lines she had painted on her when the Elders took her in the sand.
A soft sky-water fell, and our Sun brought along an arc of many colors from the farthest hills. We burnt what was left of her, so that no worm would ever feed on her. The Blind Elder said that now she was to be the keeper of our thoughts. That one day we would pile stones and make mountains of our own, and sing her songs, but longer, softer, louder, deeper, made sweeter still by the taste of her blood. Our women made many children, and they became the bravest hunters ever known. That’s how my sister became Our Mother.