by ß Samantha ß
Fire and Fire and More to Fire
Gong in the Flame
Purple was worn on the day of the Gong. Every purple scarf and hat was touched by a bit of flame before the seekers could near the bench. The flame burnt away the fuzzy lint and lose threads from each scarf and hat. The bench, gilded with gold, was the touch point at the entry port to the grounds and the grounds were surrounded by a thousand cedars. When the wind blew up from the gulf, three of the mourners turned their backs to the wind and walked with no line of sight to the Pool of Remembrance. The other four ducked down their heads and pushed onwards assuring the way was clear. The chimes on a hundred low hanging limbs of the cedars filled the air with myriad notes of joy, a counter melody to the mood of the citizenry of Holm Lake Village.
Those who had not come to mourn, dressed in purple and blue with green felt hats fell in with the seven as the crowd swelled to over two hundred. One gong sounded. It was stationed in a gazebo a little path up away from the Pool of Remembrance. Then another and another from a dozen different places within the grounds surrounded by a thousand cedars. In sympathy but with a merrier tune the chimes rang forth with too much gaiety for such a mournful celebration.
Several men dressed in black took pails of a petroleum substance into the pool of remembrance and two boys dressed in red with flaming torches ran before the march of the Holm Lake Village citizens and hurled them into the pool. A fireball raced towards the grey clouds ringing the wave of cedar branches hundreds of feet above the sacred grounds. Then became a lush blue and orange gathering of fire on the calm waters of the Pool of Remembrance.
The seven in mourning walked to the table and chairs closest to the pool of fire and bowed their heads in prayer for a moment. The rest of the village members stood momentarily waiting for the sign which soon came. The seven raised their hands and arms to the sky as though waving back to the cedars rocking in the winds of the gulf waters. At that the hundreds moved to folded chairs and they too raised their hands towards the clouds.
A young woman, long blonde hair blowing in the wind, walked to each mourner at the Pool of Remembrance Fire Table and stood before each until they acknowledge her and lowered their arms. She took a hand as it lowered and pressed it to her lips. Smiled.
As she kissed the last hand of the last mourner at the Pool of Remembrance Fire Table. The whole community sat down, nearly in unison.
An arched stage with three steps up was constructed a hundred years before this event, and the girl walked the steps to the stage and stepped to a microphone waiting for her there.
"My friends," she began, looking across the grounds admiring the faces of those in waiting, "my family" she said, smiling at the ones dressed in purple and seated at the table of honor and remembrance. "This fire burns, burns burns, and will go out when the fuel is consumed. But our fire never goes out. We burn. And it is assurance before I leave you, the one sure thing you may surely take with you, that Amy Hodges, your sister in life will be your sister on the other side burning bright with the fire of life though in a dimension different from this one I have experienced with you. I am grateful for those who have done their best to give me more years to live with you. But the treatments are done now and I am no more in health now than the day they begun, so I shall surely go to the other side. My new companion, Bella, has made a place for me until I am relieved of my pains and troubles forever, and she will give me shelter and a home, far away from you. You may grieve for me tonight, but tonight only. Keep watch as the fire blazes, but put on the robes of spring tomorrow and mourn me no more." An even younger girl than Amy came the bottom step of the platform and lifted up a hand beckoning her new friend. "I love you all, for no people on earth could have given more of themselves to another as much as you have given to me. Farewell." With that Amy put the palm of her right hand to her lips and blew a kiss to her community. A dozen gongs rang out as the wind died away leaving only a few chimes to finish the dirge.
The mourners groaned and the crowd wept. Two older men came to the pool with more fuel. Flames grew red and black smoke billowed above the pool. As Amy and Bella stepped away from the platform a black cloak was put over each of them and they disappeared into the night.
Mourners and villagers mingled and sobbed out their cries of grief and they all became a body of one burning for the love of their child going to the other side.
ß Samantha ß
For Media Challenge of March 6, 2020