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Only One MAG
They called her a medicine woman, even though she never really did anything medical.She was just an ornament, a remnant of a tribe that existed only in the minds ofthe elders. Curled up in her stark hospital bed, knees drawn to her chest, shewished for the past.
She wished more than anything that she could see theface of her beloved Hanni-Ton, taken from her on her sixteenth birthday. They'dbeen married the day before, and as was the culture of the tribe, he had carvedtwo small stripes in the flesh of his chest to indicate his new status ashusband. The blade had slipped, and he'd taken his own life in the cruelest twistof fate. Her wrinkled heart was still crying.
She wished she could holdher baby again, the young girl who had evolved into a young woman who despisedher heritage, begging for a release into the urban sprawl that beckoned her. Thetribe gave permission, though with stern repercussions: she must never return.Her daughter had died in that city of a foreign disease brought by settlers.She'd died without husband or babies. and only lingering dreams of the tribe. Shehad tightly clutched a small, heart-shaped piece of flint from her mother in herfevered hands in the end.
She wished she could visit the days of hergrandmotherhood, borne by her offspring who came after the first daughter. Shecould almost picture the laughing children, jovially splashing through the brookwith the sunshine at their feet. They were looking up at her, life reflected intheir eyes, begging for more stories of the times before their birth. The timeswhen their grandmother wasn't quite so old, so slow, so wrinkled.
A solemn tone rang out from behind her, and themedicine woman struggled to turn.
"No, no," the voice saidsoftly, placing a restrictive hand on her upper back. "Don't move."Soft hands wrapped around her torso, drawing her toward a pulsing lifesource.
"Who are you?" It was Hanni-Ton, the grandchildren, thedaughter. They were swirling together like spilled jars of paint, mixing to forman entirely new being.
"Come with me, Old One. There's someone weneed to see."
The medicine woman resisted a moment, her recalcitrancesurfacing as she tensed her spine and lay rigid on the hospital bed. The forcemassaged her shoulders, creating a liquid-like sensation that spread through thehollow of her spine to her limbs. Age melted from her bones, and she sat up, spryand youthful.
"Come, Old One," the voice had grown impatient,though not curt, and gently propelled her to her feet. She cried softly, for thearthritis that had wreaked havoc with her joints had disappeared. She was capableof walking as far as the eye could see in any direction! Such freedom had beendenied her so long!
The voice sounded like Hanni-Ton."Lover."
The voice sounded like her dead daughter."Mother."
It sounded like the laughing children."Granny!"
She was suddenly acutely aware of the beating of herown heart, echoing with startling intensity deep within the depths of her ribcage. The bleak hospital ward was changing, rapidly growing warmer and brighter,like the fire that starts at the edge of a paper and slowly transforms it untilit arrives at a point where there is nothing left to burn.
"I'mdead?" Her voice was soft, angry.
"No," Hanni-Ton, her deaddaughter, and her grandchildren all replied at once. "You weredead."
And she stepped into the land of the living.
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"The only journey is the one within" and "You can't help anyone who doesn't want to be helped."