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Hand of Fate
Mayra touched her forehead to the ground. Desolate, she watched from the corner of her eye as her basket full of parsnips was carried away by the river´s current. The sound of heavy boots had her focusing her gaze on the dirt again. She held her breathe. Please, please, have them walk on. Please. Please.
Her pounding heart drowned out any other sound as one of them came to stand in front of her. She shut her eyes tightly, willing him away. She couldn´t see him but she felt his presence. He was staring at her hands, analyzing them. Her palms itched and she was sure that beneath the dirt coating them they were growing red and moist under his perusal. Let them be unsatisfactory. Please. Please.
Her teeth hurt as she clenched her jaw and silently prayed to a God she was no longer certain existed. The words of her caretaker, Miope, rang in her ears: Use them and abuse them Mayra. Make them calloused, dirty, torn, useless except for collecting vegetables. Or else—The old man shook his head sadly. He didn´t finish the sentence. He didn’t need to. Or else she´d be taken away by them and never be seen again.
Bile rose to the back of her throat and tears prickled her closed eyelids. No. No.No. A gentle, yet firm hand, touched her head. The parting words of her mother rushed to her mind at the contact: Don´t let them see the tears. Don´t let them see the fear. Hold your head high and plunge ahead. Die with dignity.
Slave. That was all she was to them. A kamaira born to serve them, here, in the fields, in the mountains or else-where, but she was more than that.
Almost in a dream like quality, she rose. Her legs trembled beneath her but she wouldn´t fall. Someone cried out. Amara. Her heart constricted. She heard another cry and knew that her lifelong friend was being punished for her outbreak. No fear. No tears. She´d go with them peacefully. She curled her hands at her sides, squared her shoulders and raised her head to look at her executioner´s face.
She almost lost her composure at the sight. The Uraima that stared patiently at her was not demon like. His eyes were a dark brown and his face was as human as hers. Her expression must have given something away because the edges of his lips curled slightly upwards making him appear even friendlier. Her gut coiled almost painfully. No fear. No tears. She repeated the mantra in her head hoping to calm the ball of anxiety spreading across her every nerve.
“Give me your hands, kamaira.”
Mayra bit down on her lip, frantically trying to control her shaking hands as she offered them to the Uraima. He made no comment as he took them turned them over in his gloved hands.
“Almost perfect,” he whispered.
He lifted his hand and made a beckoning motion. Immediately a servant came to his side carrying two towels and a basin of water. Mayra heaved. The water´s fragrance identical to the one she´d smelled the day they´d taken her mother.
“Do you not like it, kamaira?”
She froze. He was speaking to her? Asking her a question? They remained silent for so long she thought the world had come to a standstill. Finally, the Uraima sighed heavily.
“I guess I’ll have to teach you some manners before I present you.”
Mayra said nothing. The Uraima proceeded to dip her hands in the water. She flinched. It was warm and whatever they had thrown in there to make it smell like that made her wounds sting. After a few moments, he pulled her hands out and wrapped them around a towel. Gentler than she’d thought possible he started to wipe them clean. When he finished, all traces of dirt, blood and callouses were gone.
“Perfect. Just like a thought they’d be.”
An unbidden tear slid down her cheek. She was doomed.
To be continued?
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