Saturday, January 21, 2012

In the Wasteland Between Yin and Yang

The two women lunged at each other with such fierce intention and with all their might. In this dustbowl, the middle of nowhere. One white, one black. They fought as if to the death.

Nothing was off limits. They pulled at each other's hair, poked at each other's eyes. They punched each other's breasts and kicked at the softness between each other's legs. They ripped at each other's clothes and dug deep into the skin beneath. Blood and sweat and tears spilled, and was greedily soaked up by the desert floor, uncaring of what it was that fed its thirst.

The women battled for hours. For days and nights. Untiring, unresting, unrelenting. Even as the sun bore down upon them, evaporating every last morsel of moisture it could find. Even as the temperature of the night air dropped to a freezing cold, chilling them to the marrow. Even as the Haboob drowned them in sand, pelting them far worse than any rainstorm they might have remembered from a long and distant past.

They waged their war across this barren wasteland. The dust they kicked up enjoined their ferocity and hovered all around them, threatening to consume them more easily than each woman was trying to do to the other. As the sand found it's way through every weave of fabric, settled onto every strand of hair, dug into the seams of their skin. The white woman was turning black and the black woman was turning white.

No matter. They ran and jumped at each other as if they were spring-loaded, cocked and ready to fire even as they delivered their next blows. Their savage rough and tumble took them miles across the desert and brought them close to the edge of an old ghost town. But they cared not for these whereabouts. Their riotousness continued, and every blow landed upon the other with the same ferociousness behind it as if it were the very first.

Yet amidst their violent caterwauling, they heard it. A whisper of a whimper that made them stop dead in their tracks. With fists pulled back and ready for throw, but stilled and hanging in the air for the sound of a child's soft cry.

As one, their fists opened and arms dropped to their sides. Turning towards the sound, they saw eyes peeping at them from behind a windowless window. Small fingers held fast to the rotting wood, as if it could protect the child from any and all horrors that passed for normal in this desolate town.

The women, slowly and quietly as they could, knelt to the ground and placed their palms up and open on their laps. A welcoming sign, it was not heeded as such at first. The child remained hidden but for it's eyes, peering out at them for a very long time. As the dust settled and nighttime fell, the eyes disappeared. The women waited.

Dawn revealed not one pair of eyes, but many, and many more small fingers held fast to the windowsill. Still, the women waited, not moving, not repositioning nor shifting their weight to prevent their bruised muscles from cramping and knotting up.

One by one, the children cautiously stepped out from behind their walls of protection. They held hands and encircled the two women who sat as still as possible and barely breathing so as not to startle. One child knelt beside them and rested her head in the white woman's lap, while another child rested her head in the black woman's lap. And just as quietly, all the children sat down beside and amongst them, each child touching some part of each woman, who remained still but for their hands softly caressing the child who came to settle in their lap for a short time.

The greeting continued as each child moved into and out of the women's ministrations. Each woman held each child in their arms, wrapping them in their warmth, and cooing soft sounds of safety and fealty. As the sun rose so did the women, and the children followed. They made their way, away from old ghosts and across the desert miles until they came upon a livened town. An old woman sat outside a saloon, chewing on a stick and chuckling at the cackle of laughter and music coming from inside the bar behind her.

"Looks like you've been fighting again," harumphed the gray-haired woman. She saw the bruises and dried blood on the two who stood before her, a child in each of their arms and a third on each of their backs, and a string of children behind. "It's going to get crowded in here," she muttered to herself, but she knew they would make do. They always did.

The gray-haired stood up and flicked her dead cigarette to the floor. As she turned around she motioned for them to follow her into the bar. When they entered, the laughter and music stopped, but she called out to her staff for cloths, hot water and bandages, and for warm food and cool drink. There was a bustling about as the women of the saloon responded to their matron's requests. A cat wandered in, followed by a couple of dogs, and then someone began to play a reassuring tune on the piano.

As the children were settled in, the gray-haired scoffed at the white and black who brought them here. "I hope someday you get over yourselves," she said as they patched themselves up. But she knew they would not. They would go back out into the desert to duel again. They always did.

<word count: 949>

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Okay I'm going to be brutally honest with you.
This story left me cold. It gave me a very cool visual but nothing emotional. I didn't get that usual feeling of--what comes next--tell me more.

It's me.