She offered herself for the ritual. It was to be her twin sister, but she loved her sister too much. She said take me, and so they did.
She was a believer, she always spoke in mystical terms, and saw her life as a way station. So for her, this passage was maybe easier, even an honour.
She knew how it would be, how hard, how painful, how terrifying. We all knew. It was part of the doctrine. From the age of five we learned the litanies, the prayers to the dead, the offering verses. We knew what accompanied them.
We honoured the fallen, those that went before. So we would honour her. And her sister would live, and the world would turn another year, and the crops would be blessed, and by the time another ritual fell due her sister would be too old. So it would fall to another family of the faithful.
To know this was enough for her.
Her sister wept, she wailed, she argued that it should not be so, for she was first born of the two, and she loved her sister also. But the laws of the ritual were set in stone. One was chosen, and one could offer themselves instead, and once done, no further change could be allowed – even a return to the first chosen.
She had kept her plan to herself so her sister could not offer herself twice, negating the offer of another. This had happened once, many years before, a precaution taken from similarly sisterly love. So she kept still the tongue and pretended to be happy she was spared, and proud of her sister.
But she loved her sister, far too much. So she spoke when it was opportune, and now she goes to the ritual, never to return.
Blessed be her bravery. Blessed be the town. Blessed be us all.
(c ) Helen M Valentina 2018