by MD Maurice
flash fiction winner of the Last Day Together, Round 2 of the Weekly Quickie 2/12
|The scent of jasmine grew heavier the nearer Matoe drew to the clearing. Ecru was already undergoing preparations. He crept through the undergrowth, circling around the back of the hut where he could watch from the safety of the shadows.
He saw her through the open window. Ecru was standing naked in the candlelight. Mateo felt his loins tighten at the beautiful landscape of honey-colored skin, full breasts and the gentle curve of wide hips. This was a young, strong body built for all the wondrous pleasures of the flesh, ripe with promise of life and love. This was a woman to be worshiped, not destroyed. Mateo felt the wave of grief rising within him. He sank to his knees in the moist earth. The emotion and fear threatened to consume him but then he thought of Ecru's kiss and he summoned his resolve. There was still a chance, still a few hours left to change the course of her life, of their lives.
Mateo picked up the sound of the elders chanting, a low and menacing song that carried on the wind and wrapped his heart with dread. The old crones were turning Ecru in a slow circle, their withered talons rubbing ginger seed oil over her body, making her flesh glow and shimmer in the light. As Ecru turned, she came to face the window. Her eyes searched a moment before she locked onto Mateo’s, cutting the darkness and the yards between them like a knife. In her dark pools, Mateo could discern both an invitation and a warning.
One of the elders reached around Ecru from behind, cupping her breasts and rubbing the oil into her nipples with her thumbs. Another elder made Ecru spread her legs so she could run her slippery hands up inside her thighs. Ecru winced as the old women ran her hands over her stomach and through the triangle of hair on her mounds. Mateo fought off the rising rage. It was an abomination that these shriveled old hands would be the only ones to grace Ecru’s flawless flesh, that their touch would be the only intimacy she would ever know. The violation made Mateo want to leap from the brush and tear through the wall.
After a few more minutes of rubbing and chanting, the women draped Ecru’s body in a gown of sheer muslin, open to her waist. An ornate gold clasp gathered the material together just above her hips. They slipped on anklets of wild flowers that matched the ones that had been woven into Ecru’s long hair and hung around her neck in delicate chains. They stepped back and admired their work. Ecru was a vision. She would make a worthy and compelling sacrifice. Surely, the elders mused, this young one would satisfy the appetites of the deity; surely she would be the savior of the colony. The elders prayed over Ecru before leaving her alone to fast and to pray before the ceremony as was the tradition. They walked stoically back to their huts in the village, their minds on the rains that would soon come and soak their fields, quench the thirst of their dying livestock and fills the wells of the colony again.
After Mateo was sure the old women had moved off, he slipped through the door of hut and rushed inside. Ecru turned to face Mateo. Her skin was flush and radiant and her eyes warm and wet. She opened her arms and he felt to his knees before her, pressing his face against the warmth of her body. She spoke to him softly, running her hands through his hair. “My love, my sweet love…” she whispered.
Mateo felt Ecru’s heart beating against his cheek. He smelled the exotic oils that covered perfumed skin, felt the strong, sculpted muscles of her body through the muslin cloth and suddenly the words rushed from his lips in urgent and panicked pleading.
Ecru sighed, “no Mateo. This is not the time for all of that.”
“We have a few hours to be together, why will you waste them with this talk?” She continued, fighting to keep her own sadness at bay.
They were not destined to grow old together. As much as she had longed for a traditional life together with him, she could think of no other way to love him more now than to sacrifice herself to save him. In the morning, they would come for her but for the next few hours, she would belong to Mateo in every way but one. She would still go to the deity a virgin, as it was demanded.
She slipped out of the muslin gown and lay down, pulling Mateo with her onto the bamboo matting. He slipped out of his clothes and pressed his naked body against hers, his erection rising helplessly between them. Ecru laughed and chastely kissed the tip of his swollen member. Mateo pressed his face into the space between her breasts and began to weep. Ecru wrapped her arms around his trembling body. Before the first rays of sun crept through the window and covered their entwined bodies, she allowed her tears to flow at last.
Word Count: 868