The Sins of the Fathers
⚜| SOUTH CENTRAL SAHARA DESERT: THE TENERE |
SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO
The vast plain of sand stretching from northeastern Niger into the western part of the Republic of Chad was covered in eerie darkness. Above it, the blackness of the skies were peppered by a sprinkling of stars which, although plenty, did not quite give enough illumination over the land.
A newborn’s wail pierced through the silence of the desert night, followed by an odd mix of varying tones of whimpers floating amidst the warm, arid wind.
After checking on the source of the wail, and finding it to his satisfaction, the green-haired warrior hurriedly focused his full attention to the woman lying on the sand.
She was on her back, her helmet and warrior suit set aside. Only a white, blood-stained garment covered her battered body.
Her long, white hair fanned her beautiful face, making her features aglow for the last time . . . for she was dying.
The man clasped her hands, as he urgently pleaded to her,
“My love, let me find an oasis. There must be one here. . . somewhere. . . !”
“No. . .” the woman whispered, struggling to speak.
“You and I . . . know. . . I am . . . beyond that. There. . . is no time. . . to waste. Do . . . what we have. . . agreed upon. Please, my love. Do not . . . let . . . my death . . . be in vain.”
A sob escaped from the man’s lips. “Must the cost be this high?”
Weakly, she lovingly touched his face. “I’m afraid. . . it is, my darling. Because . . . what is at stake. . . is comparable . . . to none.”
Miserably, he can only stare at her helplessly for he knew what she said was true.
“I can’t do this alone. . . I can’t do this without you!”
“You will. . . you must!”
Eagerly, she squeezed his hand with all the strength remaining in her. His green eyes searched her blue ones, etching her face in his memory.
“I love you. I love you!” he murmured pressingly, realizing that they only have seconds to spare.
“And I, you. Always. . . Please. . . remember. . . that.”
“I will. I will never forget you, my darling.”
One last kiss.
One last breath.
Then she closed her eyes, her hands dropping from his grasp, her breathing expunged.
Slowly, her skin started to shrivel and dry up.
He watched her as her body gradually turned brown and wrinkled, until it took the form of a driftwood, her face and body etched on it. Unmoving, cold, and lifeless.
For a few seconds, the man sat immobile. His grief was indescribable, his agony deeply entrenched in his heart that it rendered him numb. A lone tear escaped from his blank eyes, a last monument to his emotions, before he put it away, never to surface for eternity.
He begun to claw at the sand with his bare hands. At snail’s pace at first, but then, it became faster. . . and faster. . . until a shallow grave was formed.
There, he gently laid down the wooden image of the only woman he has ever loved, placing a kiss on its cold lips. Then he covered the grave with the sand he had dug, burying her along with the love in his heart.
Afterward, with shaking hands, he scooped the whimpering newborn in his arms. He slowly put his left palm over the little one’s face.
The child cried and cried and cried.
Then the cries abruptly stopped.
His jaw clenched, the green-haired man stood up and walked, with heavy footsteps, back to the direction of the makeshift tent in the middle of the Sahara desert.
Several gruesome tasks were waiting, still to be undertaken. His wife was right. There was no time to waste.
⚜ | NORTH ATLANTIC OCEAN
Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, a baby bottle-nosed dolphin, swimming beside its floating dead mother, shrieked a high-pitched, lengthy, depressing whistle.
Then it slowly came beside its mother and rested its head on her exposed stomach. It stayed there, like its mother, unmoving.