Vol. VIII

    I went into my Uncles’ old room. Everything was covered in sheets. The golden afternoon light filtered through the blinds. I went to the closet and opened the door. There was a cardboard box. I opened it up and saw an old lunch pail, some pens, a hammer and a few books on bird watching. Under the bird books there was another one. I picked up the book; it was covered in dust. It was leather bound and titled: “The Ten Year Rite.” I opened up to the first page and began reading.

    Before the first flowers bloom, the great stalk with have begun to slump. This is when the rite begins. After the third moon, the Spring Maiden will be ready to birth the child.

    The book even had pictures. Under the first passage there was a detailed drawing of a shrouded woman standing under foliage, her belly full and ripe.

    When the child is born, it should be kept by the elders till the green from its toes reaches its crown. Only then can the elders take the Green Child to the great stalk.

    The next picture showed villagers holding a naked child under the moon. The child seemed to be sleeping as they held it high with faces of reverence. I kept reading, turning the page.

    At the base of the great stalk, a hole should be dug. The spring maiden should be the hands that turn the earth and the voice that leads the prayer. After song and prayer, the maiden shall place the green child into the hole and cover it.

    The picture was of the shrouded woman, her belly flat, and the elders. The woman was crouched at the base of a giant stalk while the elders watched. At the woman’s feet was a tiny arm sticking out of the ground. I flipped the page.

    One week shall pass, and the withering of the great stalk shall cease and the crops shall come to harvest. The elders will go to the great stalk and there they will find a single fruit to be plucked.

    A fruit was drawn. It resembled the shape of a peach, but it seemed smaller and thicker, with the texture drawn to make its peel seem hairless and leathery.

    The next maiden will be chosen. The fruit of Machichana is to be plucked and given to a female child, no less than eight. Once they eat the fruit and let the seed of Machichana grow inside them, the Ten Year Rite is complete.

    I closed the book and replaced it. I shut the cupboard and stood. It had been ten years since my uncle passed.

    I placed my hands on my round stomach.

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