Night of the Heron
Violent fires of the night had come and set the tribal statues ablaze. The Frenchmen had come to the small Native American village an hour before, when they began to set fire to the houses and trees there. Their plan was to destroy the villa and push them further west.
As she silently watched from the low brush outside where she was hiding, Dartha, a young tribeswomen, began to weep at the destruction of her home. She heard her brother’s screams and her friends tears smothered by the rebel yells of the French. She saw and heard them converse back and forth, but the words were lost on her. She quietly wept as she saw more of the evil Frenchmen run by with guns at hand. She lowered herself even closer to the ground.
A young Frenchman stopped near her place of invisibility, as he thought he heard something. Dartha quickly held her breath and when he walked away, she breathed a sigh of relief. Inhaling in through her nose, she smelled a pungent smell. A ranking. As she felt hot breath upon her neck, the smell became even stronger. She couldn’t turn quick enough as she felt the sting of her hair being pulled.
She was whipped around as she stared into the eyes of a mad man. The pungent smell of alcohol was almost enough to make her vomit. Instead she spat in his face and tried to scurry away. He grabbed her arm and pushed her to the ground. Punching her stomach and her chest, he quickly undressed himself. When he got to his pants, he pulled out a silver blade and mumbled something in French. Dartha became still as she felt the blade against her neck.
She saw the reflection of the fires upon the blade as he lowered it to her pelvis
He pulled her clothing down and pushed the knife back up to her neck. When she felt the pain of his invasion she knew it was too late. She struggled even with the knife at her throat, but she couldn’t shake him. The pain was so extreme that she felt she had to be bleeding.
After his small grunts, he quickly got off top of her. Her face was wet with tears and she didn’t even bother to hide anymore. She stood and saw nothing but a blurry canvas of orange and yellow. She heard terror screams but couldn’t place them to anyone. She was alone in a blaze of fire, no one to rescue her from the flames of war. Dartha fell to the ground as she waited for the flames to consume her.
But they never did. Dartha awoke in a sweat. She sat straight up and saw herself in the alley that she had been sleeping in for the passed two nights. She was lucky to have find an actual safe haven that Lun and herself could actually stay in for more than just a night.
Having just relived the worst terror of her life, she heard Lun begin to stir. Before he could start to cry, she quickly picked him up and put him to her breast. Plopping her nipple into his mouth, Dartha quickly covered her nudity with a blanket she had been given that same day by an old English women as she was passing through a small English town with Lun in her arms. As Lun finished his midnight snack, Dartha wrapped him in the warm, fuzzy blanket, covering up in an old tattered trench coat. The sound of the nearby crickets helped her fall back to sleep. At least the crickets were content with their lives upon the earth. This thought sat upon her mind as she slowly closed her eyes to fall into slumber again, At least the crickets were …
Her outcast from her tribe when they found she was pregnant was horrendous. She tried so desperately to reason with the camp elders, telling them that she had been forcibly raped the night their camp burned to the ground. With stern upper lips, they turned her away. Denying her any food or shelter. A week after her exile she came back to camp with hopeful eyes. She asked forgiveness for any wrong they believe she had done. They granted her peace and let her seek shelter in a cabin, but only until her baby was born, then she’d have to leave.
She stayed with them for six months and was treated unfairly. She was but only a slave to the older women of the tribe. She was spit upon and hit constantly. Even children younger than her showed every last bit of disrespect they had toward her. She couldn’t stay there for another three months until the baby was born, she had to escape. So in the stillness of night, she crept from her place of rest and escaped the torment of her peers. She was a lost refugee just looking for a place to rest and prepare for her baby’s birth in peace.
Two and half months later, in the darkness of a summer’s eve, Dartha gave birth to a healthy, vibrant baby boy. She had given birth to a sickless infant all on her own. She needed no one else’s help but her own. As she cradled her blood covered child in her crimson stained blankets, she looked to the night sky, she felt more alone than she ever had. More alone than her tribe ever made her feel, more alone than when she was by herself. The moon was her destiny, her only friend in the nine months since her outcast. She looked at her crying, squirming infant in her arms, there naming him Lun.
As Dartha awoke on the morning of Lun turning two weeks old, she smiled as she simultaneously yawned with Lun. The memories that had come the night prior in dreams, had haunted her ever since that life altering night. The night that clenched her fate, making her realize the only one she could count on was herself.
Her mind was in disarray as she looked to the blue of the morning sky. What truly happened that night as the French attacked, she would never fully know. Who was the man who raped her? Why did he commit such a torturous offence against her? And why had he decided to prey upon her, and her alone? Questions went in and out of her mind, in and out of the blue. In her mind’s eye she would never forget the heat of his body pressed to her, the pungent smell of his breath, and the pain he had decided to bestow upon her. Not just physical pain, but an emotional anguish of being pushed away from her closest circle and being forced to support and raise an infant all on her own. It was there in the dewy still of the morning of Lun’s turning two weeks old that she decided to seek revenge. Revenge against this most evil of man who brought her destiny to a crashing halt. She would seek revenge upon him at any cost.
The next six mornings following her decision to execute justice for herself, she found a small cove created by a thick brush where Lun and herself could seek refuge. It was not ten feet away where a creek and a small pond made a perfect right angle. Everyone of the six mornings, she awoke to the call of the blue heron. She would open her eyes to see the heron fly along the pond’s surface, walk upon the pond’s shore or call out to other close blue herons close by.
It was the seventh morning that she awoke to no heron near the pond. Instead, it was Lun that woke her. She missed the heron that morning. It was like he was her one and only thing to look forward to every night as she fell asleep with Lun in her arms.
That very same day, Dartha walked into the nearest civilized town where she met and saw a number of English and French men and women as they strolled through the dust covered streets, when she came to an area where music was being played. It didn’t sound like anything she ever heard before. It was both sad and mournful. Nevertheless, it was the most beautiful thing she had ever heard. So with Lun in her arms she followed the sorrowful music.
It led her to a nearby cemetery where many women were dressed in black dresses and men in black suits. She saw a small clan of men playing the music she so desperately tried to hear. She entered the yard and saw a man in robes with a book at hand talking to all those dressed in black. As she looked upon the body lying in the casket, she came to realize it was him. It was the man who had raped her and brought her to the most tremendous hardship she had ever encountered. When she looked upon the chilling face in the coffin, she could again smell the heavy use of alcohol upon his breath and feel the pain in her lower abdomen.
She began to cry as she ran from the small group surrounding him. They were all shocked by the Indian women’s sudden outburst. They had wondered why she was there to begin with.
As she ran from the graveyard in total anguish she tripped and dropped Lun on the cold ground. She fumbled to pick her now crying son up off the ground. She found it difficult to do so for she was trembling with so much anger. She quickly gathered Lun and his blanket up off the ground and scurried back to her cove near the pond. As she set Lun down, she noticed a bleeding upon his head. She had dropped him and he cut the skin of his scalp which was now bleeding profusely.
She began to cry, desperately trying to find something to stop the bleeding. She took the blanket out from underneath him and pushed it against the deep cut. Lun cried agony, but she didn’t give in. He cried harder which made Dartha cry all the more hard. She couldn’t take his bleeding. It was turning the blanket a dark shade of crimson. She hated hearing his screaming so she took the blanket and, without thinking, covered his face to muffle the screams. As he cried out louder, she pushed harder upon the blanket on his mouth.
Soon the crying stopped and all Dartha could hear were her own sympathetic tears. She pulled the blanket from Lun’s face only to see that his chest ceased to move. He had stopped breathing and Dartha quickly pulled him to her chest and she let out a long, loud moan. An unearthly scream that made the heron’s feathers stand up. Dartha glanced up from her dead son’s lips to see the heron again near the pond’s edge. She was entranced by its cloudy, shallow beauty.
She looked at its gray as if in another world, she set the dead Lun down upon the hazel dirt of the ground. By that time dusk had settled upon Lun’s dead body. She stood and walked to the water’s edge. On the exact opposite side was the blue heron she cared for so tenderly. She didn’t even think to walk around the pond, she waded into the pond’s deep, murky water and walked as if she was still on dry land. She believed it to be her destiny. Upon the Heron’s gray feathers, Dartha felt alive . In its black eyes, she felt accepted. Within the heron’s fluffy embrace, she was at home. When the water soon covered her fully and the surface of the pond was feet above her head, she was finally in a place, a state where both her and Lun would finally be welcomed with open arms.