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Rated: E · Short Story · Death · #1865450
Comming from a long line of lycanthrope one has to deal with the passing of her soulmate.

Looking down at his body that lay on the wooden table, it felt like someone had filled my heart with the ice cold water found in the rivers of Alaska. Looking at him, it seemed surreal, like it was all a part of a hazy dream.  His dark ash colored hair combed back, his eyes shut. It almost looked like he was sleeping, his pale red lips pulled in straight lines.  Such a serious look. It reminded me of when we were kids playing in our makeshift tree house. How serious his face looked the day he told me he wanted to run away, and be together. We were only kids then, basking in the innocents of our childhoods. Falling in love at the age of 9 didn’t seem logical to most people. But in our minds, we were made for each other, and it only seemed right that we would jump on our bikes and ride off into the sunset to wherever our bikes would carry us too.
Now looking down at my best friend, looking as if he were just sleeping peacefully, my heart sank into my stomach. Filled with despair I couldn’t help but think about all of the things we would never get to share together again. I would never again feel the warmth of his arms around me, holding me in an embrace that could compare to no one else’s. I would never hear the brightness of his laughter again, we would never again talk about the endless possibilities of our life, and we would never learn the ways of the pack together.

Finding out that mine and Jason’s families came from a long line of lycanthrope at the age of 11 was almost too much to handle for me. But Jason was ecstatic.  All of the tales our parents had been telling us since we were just children were true. Meaning that on full moons, they would shift into a werewolf creature, protecting our village from unwanted visitors. Though at the time, we weren’t sure who those intruders would have been.  In our pack, lycanthrope was genetic. The silly tales have been told about us for centuries were mostly made up. The lycanthrope is genetically passed down through generations. Contrary to what everyone believes, you didn’t become a lycanthrope through a bite. It isn’t an infection; it was a curse in my eyes, though Jason thought of it as a “gift.”

Knowing since we were 11 that we would one day get our families gift passed to us, was absolutely terrifying to me. But Jason was willing and ready. He wanted the awesome power that lycanthrope carried, he wanted the responsibility of being able to take care of our village, and he loved the idea that we would be running together side by side. He once told me that it made him feel strong and powerful and free. But with all of the things that lycanthrope came with, it also came with having to follow the pack leader. Never getting peace. Always having someone else’s thoughts in your head. Never being able to keep your own secrets again.

In our pack we have an order to things. When the children turn 11, that’s when the pack leaders, a long side the parents, sit the children down to tell them about our history, and that is the day they tell us what we really are. Up until that point, the children have no idea. The other lycanthropes swear an oath to keep our village’s gift a secret. They say long ago, it had been decided by the village leaders to wait to tell the children until they turned 11, giving us a few years of a normal life, and childhood. Many believed this was a blessing. But I believed this was a curse. It gave us a taste of the simple life, a normal life. It let us formulate dreams and wishes. Let us picture ourselves becoming princesses and princes just to rip all of it away and tell us that we could never have a simple life because of what we are. Many are excited to be told they have a greater responsibility; they want to be a part of something much bigger than themselves. But then there was me, who hated the idea, and now I hated the idea even more because being a lycanthrope is what took Jason away from us, away from me. Maybe if Jason realized that dying was a part of being what we were he wouldn’t have been as excited. The people of our village considered dying in a hunt or battle an honor. Jason thought that way too, but none of this made me feel any better with having just lost my best friend, my soul mate. I am bitter about the hunt, I am bitter that tonight we say goodbye to Jason forever, that his spirit will be sent off. But my village is celebrating; now they have another brave solider to add to our sky spirits.

  The sun has finally set over the Takaki village, The Light turning into darkness masking our grief. It is our tradition to have our burning ceremony at night. The day of the burning ceremony, is spent preparing the warrior for departure, and for the village to pay respects to the spiritless body.  The body is wrapped in ceremonial red silk cloth, symbolizing that they died bravely in battle. It is tradition that whenever a den looses one of their own, that den leader will be head of the burning ceremony. All though we are a part of the same village, and the same pack, our pack holds four different dens. During your first change when you turn 17, that is when the sky spirits choose to put you in one of the four dens. North, East, South or West. Jason was a North.

    I watch as Jason’s Den leader moves forward to begin wrapping his body in the red silk cloth. I fight back tears, as the painful lump jumps in my throat. I try not to cry, I do not want to show weakness to my pack. They are strong, I must stay strong. Ellise starts at Jason’s feet and works his way up to his head, slowly wrapping each part of the soft red silk around, and around, like wrapping a fragile piece of glass careful not to break anything.  Once his pack leader, Ellise, makes it to the top of his head, he steps back, allowing Jason’s family one by one to come and kiss his forehead, one last kiss goodbye. As I stand silently aside, I see Jason’s mom covered in grief walk slowly but purposefully to Jason’s body. I feel a warm tear escape from my eye, and fall quietly to the ground. Jason was a son,  grandson, a brother, a best friend and loved by so many. No one ever expected to lose one of our own, but especially on his first shift, his first hunt. This is what I think about as I watch his family one by one turn their backs to Jason and walk silently back to sit with the rest of the village.  As the family sits, Ellise completes the first part of the burning ceremony by wrapping Jason’s beautiful face with the rest of the red silk, slowly and mindfully. This will be the last time anyone will ever see his face, except for in our minds. Soon to be nothing but a memory to the village, but always to be a void in my heart, left to be empty like an endless black hole no matter how hard you try to fill it, it will never ever be enough. My heart sinks into my stomach, as if my body has just caught up with my mind, and has finally come to the same sickening realization. 

  The second part of the ceremony begins as Ellise picks up the long, oak colored wooden handle on one end of the holding table that Jason rests on. As he does this, our packs second in command Kamik, lifts the other side of Jason’s holding table, and together they lead the way out of the ceremonial cabin. As they pass with Jason’s lifeless body, the pack slowly bows their heads as a sign of respect.  Some look at him in strong proud stances holding their right hands in a fist over their hearts, others hold back tears. While many let their grief and despair take over, and begin to cry. Walking to the pit, it is completely quiet. The only sounds are those of grief stricken crys, and the soft crunching from the ground as our feet walk in unison, stepping on sticks and leafs and gravel as we follow Ellise and Kamik .I can see the pit in the distance, dark and ominous, only lit by the fire at the bottom. You can hear the crackling of the wood as we get closer. You can see kindling fly from the pit, making the pit seem like it is sparkling.  I think this is not what Jason would have wanted; he would want us to be happy, and proud. I picture him standing at the edge of the pit, smiling at me and waiting. But this time that is not true. He is sleeping, resting, waiting for his departure. I miss his smile, and the smell of snow, and pine on his soft skin. I miss his laughter and his golden brown eyes looking up at me.  I am filled with rage that he is gone.  I wonder if anyone else feels the way that I do.

  Now we are stepping down into the pit, down, down, down. Where we will set Jason’s body on top of the fire, the smoke carrying his soul to the sky spirits. Where he will stay for eternity, watching over us and protecting us.  I think that the sky spirits before Jason have not done their job. If they had then Jason would be standing next to me, and we would not be at a Burning.  My chest feels heavy, and it is becoming hard to breath. I want to scream out to the sky spirits. I want to throw my fist in the air and curse them!! How could they let this happen, how could they let Jason die, why did they not protect him?  Ellise and Kamik stand holding Jason’s body just in front of the fire, in the pit. The pit is in circled by white rocks, how can something so awful, look so beautiful. As the fire roars, and crackles the light reflects off of the rocks. Reminding me of beautiful shinning stars. Soon Jason will become a star, going up, up, up waiting for the day when we can be together again.  One of the village leaders, Poka, steps forward dressed in his Burning Ceremony cloths. A long tunic, covered in vast bright colors. Orange’s, yellow’s and reds. Making him look like he belongs with the fire too.  Poka looks down at Jason, with sad and proud eyes. And then turns to us. This is when we all bow down on the floor of the pit, our knees hitting the cold floor. We look up at Jason one more time as we place our right hands,balled into fists over our hearts. I want to jump out of my skin, I want to go and shake Jason and tell him to wake up, my body is not listening to me and I start to panic. I feel  warm wetness run down my cheeks, and I wonder how long I have been crying.

  Poka bows his head and says “Sky Spirits, we ask you to take our brave solider and let him enter your kingdom. So that we can have another brave solider watch us, and protect us. Jason fought bravely, and so we give him to you, never forgetting his sacrifice giving his life, so that our village can be free.”  As the last words leave Poka’s lips, Ellise and Kamik place Jason’s body on top of the fire pit. The crackling of the fire is louder and fiercer, and my whole body aches, my body is so full of anger and grief I know we are about to shift. I am thankful for this. It is time to run, to show our respects. One last run for our brave solider Jason.

As the pack begins to shift, all I see is images of white, brown, black, and grey fur. Strong howls filled with grief and anger cry into the night. This run is for you Jason, this is what you loved the most about being a lycanthrope. The free feeling you got as you ran and felt the cool, winter wind flowing through your beautiful fur. I will run for you, and be proud. Never forgetting, and always moving forward like you would want.  As a pack we head for the tall pine trees that line our villages borders, running into the darkness, free and running, like Jason is now, free.
© Copyright 2012 S.L. Grant (stormcloud2 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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