The words over at Three Word Wednesday are deceit, indulge and oath.
I am awakened by a sharp, cautious whine from my dog, Shadow. Through a haze of sleep-coated eyes, I see what’s got him riled.
In the clearing past the apple orchard rages a bonfire. Half-naked men gyrate to the rhythm of drums, their faces obscured by shadow and smoke.
My heart quickens; I plead for Shadow to be quiet and then I’m out the window where I shimmy down the drainpipe to get a better look.
Wet grass cools the soles of my feet as I creep nearer the fire. It rages with a fierce intensity, fueled by logs from winter’s slash pile.
From the fire, and the full moon, which burns bright in the sky, I realize they’re Aztecs, performing a reenactment of myth. On an altar of stone lies a boy, about my age.
It’s a blood sacrifice.
The boy’s black hair shines in the firelight; the high priest runs his hands down the boy’s chest, lifts a bronze dagger in a high arc into the night sky. The men stop moving, but continue to chant in low, guttural tones.
I want to speak out, but the fear has me transfixed.
The high priest screams, plunges the knife into the boy’s chest; the men whoop, chant.
That horrid moment releases me from a paralyzing terror and I make a run for the house.
Where my mother sits on the porch, sipping a cup of tea.
I collapse at her feet, try and explain what I’ve witnessed through tears and gurgling snot.
“Shhhhh, it’s OK,” she says, wiping my wet cheeks with the corner of her apron. “Ever since your father died, I’ve had to indulge them. They pay handsomely, and they’ve very well taken care of last year’s storm debris. Except of the blood, I’d say it’s a win-win for us.”
I’m horrified at the deceit.
And pledge an oath: No more human sacrifice on the homestead.
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