MARLENE DEE GRAY POTOURA
An entry in The Crocodile Prize
Deep piercing darkness.
Like a blanket rolled out before her. Thick and foggy.
The coverlet of blackness moved toward her. Gripping her. Strangling her.
Dancing amorphous shadows invaded her body, smoldering the breath out of her.
Unseen energy vitalized her whole being, absorbed all her senses and transfixed her on what laid ahead.
She lifted her head and looked around.
She was in a misty room waiting.
The air was heavy and gloomy.
Something gnawed deep in her heart. She felt the cold eeriness in the roots of her pores. The numbness that invaded her body crept up her toes and incubated inside her. Her legs were frozen, her arms were stiff and her breathing was intense. Her heart ached from deep within her.
The sadness that bit deep in her heart rocked her body. It swayed her and made her one with the dark shadows that seized her movements and transformed her weakening energy into its enthralling icy clutch.
She looked across the room and saw her cousin Pinsui smiling and laughing with other women. Why can’t she feel the sadness that I feel, Marita thought. Her head reeled and she lost control, as she wailed frenetically. She couldn’t tell why she was weeping bitterly, but her broken heart made her trembled and moaned. Pinsui and the other women cried quietly, but Marita’s wailing could be clearly heard over those who were mourning with her.
She looked across the room again and saw many other mourners. Why hadn’t she noticed them before? The men were covered in mud and the women had ashes on their faces. They were all wailing metrically and the strange sound added more gloom to the hazy room. She did not recognize the mourners, but she felt comforted among them. Marita in some way knew that they were there to share her sorrow.
Boom, boom, rat tat tat tat! There was a new sound. Guns!
The mourning stopped.
Everyone sat still.
Then she saw a long, wide wooden casket in the middle of the room. She looked at the other side of the casket and saw Nambu. He stood there, while Marita and all the other mourners sat around it. Nambu put his hand on the casket and lifted the lid.
Marita stood up and looked inside the casket.
It was empty.
Then Nambu put his right hand into the casket and got three eggs. He put the three eggs on the palm of his hand. One egg looked old and had a rough surface, while the other two eggs looked young and had smooth surfaces. He held the three eggs on the palm of his hand and then he got the two smooth ones and gave them to Marita. He whispered sadly.
“Look after these eggs.”
Nambu put the old looking egg back into the casket and slammed the lid, convincing Marita that the casket was now locked and there was no other way the egg would be retrieved.
Marita woke up in perspiration, gasping for air.