Hummingbird’s lifeless body lay frozen in time for hours, with every muscle constricted and locked in a spasm. First, a single gasp for air broke the silence in her mountain home, then a moment later, another. Slowly, as her muscles relaxed their hold on her, she gasped faster and faster until she was panting. The pain in her chest was sharp, like she swallowed water down the wrong hole. Eventually, she could breathe normally. She panted from the ordeal her own body wreaked on her. The darkness left vision, and her eyes finally found focus. She rolled her head around, regaining her wits, surveying the small shack she called home her whole life. The woman of the woods was near the counter in their makeshift kitchen. She crawled several feet away from Hummingbird with the last of her strength. Hummingbird rolled over to her hands and knees, then crawled to the woman of the woods.
“Momma,” She whimpered, barely a whisper, her voice hoarse and cracked. Her strength returned slowly, but enough to roll the woman of the woods over to her back. Her eyes were open, full of tears that streamed down the sides of her head, disappearing into her hair, “Momma,” Hummingbird cried, stroking her cheek. The woman of the woods struggled to speak.
“Your momma,” The old woman managed to say, barely audible, “So… sorry,” she gasped, “My… hum…bird…”
“Shh, momma, I know, momma, she make a bad maginins,” Hummingbird stuttered as she cried, “Try a hurt us both, wit da bad, liar maginins!”
“You…” the woman of the woods reached up with a shaky hand and caressed her cheek, “my sweet, my hummin…. bird…” with that, the woman of the woods exhaled her last breath.
“Momma!” She shook the woman of the woods, “Momma!” she screamed as loud as she could, crying. Her blinding rage and sorrow killed the life on the mountain in a flash. She cradled the woman of the woods in her arms, crying and wailing. “I swear ta ya, I find ya justice, I kills all dem dat e’er hurt ya, momma, all dems I sees in ya head, I hold on ta ya, and keep ya wit me fo’eva!” Hummingbird hissed in the woman of the woods ear, then wailed a cry of remorse for the dead woman who had been her mother. Hummingbird collapsed to the dead woman’s chest, giving her one last long hug with all her strength, sobbing uncontrollably, mourning her loss. Her undying love. The images the strange woman showed her of her mother doing horrible things to a young pregnant woman, stuck with her. It was so real. Deep inside she knew it was true, it was all true. But she ignored it, instead she focused her thoughts on the love her momma showed her all her life. She told herself it was just the maginins of that strange woman, who could do like her. Hummingbird only ever knew the woman who loved her unconditionally, that lay before her dead. Hummingbird finally released the dead woman of the woods after her tears had run dry. She retrieved the paring knife the woman of the woods always kept in her waistband. Hummingbird took the skirt off the dead woman of the woods and put it on. She wobbled as she walked from the home, carrying her dead, naked mother, then threw the woman of the woods on the fire, watching her burn for hours. “You free now, momma. We be togeda, fo’eva. Thank you, fo yo lovin me.” Hummingbird turned and left her home, numb, in search of justice, “I’m sorry about your mom, lil Hummingbird,” Melissa said, “I mean, that really sucks. Hey, ya think we can go to town and get some McDonalds?” Melissa asked, “Shut yo mouth, girl, leave my lil Humminbird be, cha can’t see she hurtin’.” She spoke to herself with the voice of the woman of the woods, absorbed just as she had absorbed Melissa, she could not let go of her momma, fear of being alone kept her close. Being in the mind of the woman of the woods gave Hummingbird all she needed to make her real. She saw her life, her rape, the murder of her family, the reason the woman of the woods chose to live out the rest of her life alone. The injustice Hummingbird swore to avenge. She absorbed more than Melissa and the woman of the woods; whose name was Rachel Harris. She absorbed some of all the minds she inhabited since Melissa joined her. Her mountain lion walked with her, filling her with the power and instinct of a wild beast. In the struggle to understand all that inhabited her, someone new emerged from the shadows of her mind. Delilah. She stepped to the forefront and seized control, claiming to be the real personality of Hummingbird, evolved from the combination of all that inhabited her mind. So strong and sure of herself, that every personality within Hummingbird gave way to her, without question. In truth, she was a shadow of another mind that touched Hummingbirds, one full of hate and anger for the woman of the woods, but love for Hummingbird, one that knew the full extent of her power. Delilah could face all that Hummingbird could not, including life beyond the mountain. She would be the justice Hummingbird sought out for her momma.