Sunday, August 14, 2011

A 2 Z: Lekira's Life (Kira's Challenge part 2)

Kira faced the rising sun with a straight back, her heart singing, soaring as high as the laita that swooped above her. She packed her things quickly, chattering to Qee the whole time.

“After five days in the jungle without any human contact, I’ll bet you’ll be glad when I have my own kind to talk to, instead of gabbing your ear off.”

The behki snorted and Kira laughed. She tied her bag and turned her attention to Qee’s fur. Plucking a small branch off the soft-wooded lenter tree, she worked the broken end until it splayed wide in a fan of thin fibers. She drew it through Qee’s coat, working out tangles and dirt.

“We’ll come into the village as champions, Qee, not bedraggled survivors. I left a girl and will come back a woman.” Her mind filled with the thought of her beloved Mikot’s face, shining with pride.

Qee nudged her and she shook her head. “Zoned out on you, did I?” She giggled, but put her hands back to work.

“Now for my hair.” She loosened her dark locks from the rawhide band. “Should I keep it down or brai—”

A scream pierced the air.

Kira reached for Qee, her throat tightening. For a moment she thought it was the wildcat, healed and returning for revenge. But when the cry came again, it sounded more human, almost like a cry for help.

One of the other challengers, perhaps? Injured and calling for help? No, they were all in different parts of the jungle.

She rushed to secure her pack on the behki’s back and took his forelock. “Shhh, Qee, lewah.”

The animal obediently followed and she crept in the direction the cries had originated, both of them stepping carefully, silently. Another scream came, this time a deep moan quite nearby. Kira paused, catching the urgent words that followed. “Oh, please, Creator, send someone to help.”

“Ssssss.” She motioned for Qee to stay put and crept forward to peer through the bushes. A woman lay in the dirt, her great mound of a belly contracting in childbirth. Sweat dampened her dark forehead.

“Oh, please, someone help.” Her words dropped to a murmur and Kira strained to understand the woman's heavy accent.

Kira pulled back, leaning against Qee. She would forfeit the challenge if she joined up with another human. Besides, she knew little about helping birth a child. Surely she would just make things worse.

“Creator, please, send someone.”

The words clung to Kira, pulling her, prodding her. She sighed. “Yes, Creator. I’m coming.” She looked up at the sky for a moment, pale clouds peering between the leaves. If she could do even one small thing toward brining another life safely into this world, it was worth the challenge.

Worth waiting another year? Worth the chance of Mikot choosing someone else?

No. She could not think of that now. Think only of the moment.

She bustled into the clearing. “I’m here to help.” She laid her pack down and took the woman’s grimy hand. “What’s your name? What should I do?”

A tear welled out of the woman’s eye. “He heard. Thank you.” She gripped Kira’s hand. “I’m Lasia. Please, boil some water and sterilize a knife.” Lasia motioned toward a bucket, then bent forward again in a contraction. “Hurry!”

Kira called for Qee and they hurried to the river and back, gathering brushwood along the way. Within minutes she had the pot over a small fire and was kneeling again beside Lasia.

“Why are you out here alone? Where is your family?” Kira didn’t add that the woman was also within the boundaries of Kira’s tribe.

“My behki spooked and ran. I was afraid if I fell off I would hurt the child.” Her hand went to her belly, rubbing, caressing. “Somehow I clung on until he quieted, but by then I had no idea where I was and then this baby announced it was coming whether I was ready or not.”

She grabbed at Kira’s hand, moaning again. Kira braced with her, fearing the small bones in her own hand would break with the pressure before Lasia finally relaxed again.

“What are you doing out here, a child alone?”

Kira straightened. “I am no longer a child.” Well, she would have been no longer one. “I’m proving my readiness for adult life and a family.”

“Ah,” Lasia nodded. “My people have this tradition, too, but it is only the boys who brave the elements alone.” Her gaze meandered around the clearing, resting briefly on Qee before turning back to Kira. “Yet your way has wisdom. Do not we women brave the jungle nearly as much as the men, plus with our children to care for?”

She cried out again, this time longer. Something was wrong. Kira could see it by the way she moved, the way her stomach contracted but did not shift the baby. She saw it in her eyes, in the short breaths that puffed from her mouth.

Closing her eyes, Kira let a prayer rise to the Creator. It was a prayer with no words, for He saw the situation and knew it better than she.

When she opened them, Lasia was watching. “So what must we do?”

Kira's hands moved almost before she knew they would, finding places on her abdomen. The touch calmed her as the girl massaged, fingers probing to feel the baby within.

“It’s a breach birth, I think.” Kira pushed at the baby’s rear through the stomach muscle, turning it, turning ever so gradually. Another contraction hit and she paused, wiping Lasia's forehead with a cloth until it was done and she moved to once again began urging the baby.

Then it happened. The baby kicked and rolled the rest of the way into place, Lasia’s belly bulging with a tiny elbow before falling calm.

The next contraction eased the child forward and within minutes Kira was grabbing for the slippery bundle. A cry rent the air. Kira laughed. A baby girl, safe in her hands. Trembling, she placed her on Lasia’s chest and for a moment their eyes met before dampness clouded Kira's vision.

“Thank You, Creator. You have brought yet another of Your creations into this world.”

It was the next day before it seemed safe to move Lasia. She and the baby rode on Qee and Kira strode beside him, her shoulders back. She had done the right thing; she didn’t regret that. But a part of her stomach clenched tighter and tighter as they neared my home.

Then they were there, stepping into the path of the village.

“She’s come! Kira’s back!” A little boy dropped his hemp ball and charged down the road ahead of them, screaming at the top of his lungs. People rushed out, exclaiming over Kira, over the strange woman and baby.

Her eyes searched only for one person. Kira found him in only a moment and in an instant all her fears were relieved.

“Kira!” Mikot grasped my hands. “I feared the worst.”

Her brave man’s eyes were wet. He was crying over her. Crying over Kira!

“I had to help Lasia.” Her words trembled, though she tried hard to be strong. The very words condemned her. Failed her from the challenge.

His eyes turned to Lasia. He tugged down the blanket swaddle and smiled at the wrinkled face of the newborn.

Then he turned back to Kira. “What beauty you have done. What honor to help such a life into this world.”

Her heart trembled, nearly stopped. What a man she had. She had chosen well. He would wait, she knew it. Next year they would wed.

Mikot left her for a moment to murmur with the tribal councilman. She held my tears in check, focusing just on the baby. The beautiful baby.

But then Mikot returned and grabbed her hand, held it high in the air. He turned to address the entire village. “Kira was willing to give up her challenge in order to help another, yet in that she has proven herself stronger than ever. Welcome our newest woman, Kira.”

Kira’s family yelled approval, stomping their feet.

Mikot reached around her to offer a hand to Lasia, lowering her gently to the ground. “Your child, what have you named her?” His finger trailed along the baby’s tiny foot.

“I name her in honor of my newest friend who guided her into this world.” Lasia’s voice rose to be heard above all the villagers. Rose to let all the world know. “I call her Lekira.”

This post is late and hastily-written due to the FaithWriters' conference that was in Michigan this weekend. It was an awesome time and though I'm coming back in a lot of pain and with a cold, it was worth it. Wonderful time!

Check out more "L" posts in the A 2 Z 4 U & Me meme at


Anonymous said...

this is a test comment - please delete at your convenience

Cheryl said...

wow...I want to keep reading!

Cheryl said...

Opps--I'm reading in reverse...I failed to notice the "part 2." Off to part 1 now. :-)