WEP April 2020 Challenge

Reluctantly I missed the February, as a result of having considerable sinus problems. Fulfilling a promise I made to myself to return for the April challenge. Having some initial trouble with “Antique Vase” theme, before realizing I was over-complicating the idea. Realizing I could use the vase idea as an element of the narrative, and build a story around how it could be used. Coming up with a few different ideas before settling with the tale below. A tale I call, “A Rite of Rebirth.”

Writer’s note: A golok is a type of machete used on tropical islands in the Indian Ocean.

On a moonless, humid evening, I peered into the ancestral grove of my family. Purple, oval petaled moon-flowers blossomed on moss-covered rocks. A shallow structure of stone and plant held in place three linked pits of collected rain-water. Even the stars refused to bloom in the overhead sky. I hoped that was not an unfortunate omen that would shadow over the rite I had to perform tonight, on the eve of my sixteenth year. Only on that particular evening could this powerful ritual of rebirth and cleansing be performed.

Using my family’s ceremonial golok, I pushed aside a series of broad, ovular leaves. I left the ancient metal blade in place while taking my first step onto the sacred ground. Hearing the leaves return to their position, the moment I relocated the golok to my side. A strange mixture of fear and excitement rushed through my body. Taking another step towards the pits of water, I began to feel an unexpected warmth at the center of my back. The heat somehow being focused around an old clay vase, I had strapped to my back. Removing the ancient urn from my shoulders with the utmost care, I began to prepare every facet of myself to undergo this transformative ritual.

I allowed several moments to pass by, before stepping into the first pit of blessed water. The liquid began to ripple outward at the unwelcome presence of my feet. To my astonishment, the water retained a sense of warmth that defied anything I believed possible without a living flame resting underneath it. Listening to the natural symphony of jungle bugs, I placed my family’s urn inside the water. The clay was softening while the liquid flowed into the vase’s interior.

Patiently, I let it fill approximately half-way, before lifting it out of the water. The music of the jungle falling silent, being replaced by an eerie barrage of distorted whispers. Struggling to ignore the voices, I lifted the antique vessel over my head. Confident I could maintain the urn’s position, I began to tilt the vase. The contents were slowly trickling down my face and proceeding across the rest of my being. My meager garments absorbing a small amount of the water, yet a chill didn’t rush over my body. Nor did my strength falter in the lengthy process of emptying my family’s ancient urn. Returning the jar to my side, I entered the next deposit of sacred water. A tremor rushed up the entirety of my body, the moment my foot hit the collected water. The sensation was something I struggled to understand what changed the water from the first pit to the second. Aware that I wouldn’t be welcomed back to my village without completing the ritual, I persevered.

Balancing out my standing position before, I began to refill the old clay pot. Fearing being banished from my home, I let the cold water rush between my fingers, forcing my fingers to tighten their grip on jar’s weathered smooth surface. The tremors continued to push themselves forcibly through my body; to a point, it almost shattered my concentration and my family’s sacred vase. Hoping I had collected enough of the holy water, I carefully and slowly lifted the container. Feeling my fingers begin to loosen up, the very moment I removed from the liquid. I began to take a few deep breaths, believing it would steady my body long enough to empty the jar. I could feel my nerves strengthen, and the eerie shakes leave my body. More than eager to begin the third and final part of the ritual, I spilled the vase’s contents over my body. The water clung to my skin and garments, forcing my hair to blind my eyes temporarily.

With my clothes and skin now cleansed by the blessed liquid, I stepped into the last deposit of collected water. Howling-out in surprise, at the water’s scorching warmth. Any remaining shakes, vanished instantly, being replaced by heat more potent than the sun itself. Aware of how my damp fingers stuck to the vase, I dipped them cautiously inside the sacred fluid. I had to fight back an urge to scream out in pain, as the blessed water entered the jar’s interior. The heat of the liquid, pushing itself outward through the vase’s surface, almost burning the tips of my fingers. Believing I could not endure this pain much longer, I began to elevate the jar over my head. My muscles were screaming out, inside my head, making every movement agony. Confident, the tepid vase was resting over my head, beginning to empty it over my person. I managed to withstand the blistering heat long enough to drain the holy water over my being. The sacred liquids were blending with the remains of the previous two pools and enveloping my entire being in an unexplainable embrace. A penetrative sensation that burned through my clothes and skin until it reached the depths of my soul.

Only then did I observe a single speck of intense ethereal blue figure inside my mind. In a disjointed but collective whisper, it said, “Your rebirth is complete my child. Return to my people, son,” the lone spot of disappearing immediately afterward.

Stepping out from the sacred pools, I began to strap my family’s ancient jar to my back once more. Leaving the holy grove behind, feeling I had left my youth behind and was returning home a man born anew.

Word Count: 908 Critique level: Comment Only

37 thoughts on “WEP April 2020 Challenge

  1. This is such a different take on a ‘coming of age ceremony’. I would like to read more of this young man’s culture and story.
    And welcome back. I missed you in the Februrary challenge and hope your sinus issues have been resolved.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Christopher, you were greatly missed in February. I’m so glad to see you back again for this challenge. You’ve compiled a beautifully descriptive story, the style i love. Coming of Age stories are always popular, something particular to so many cultures. As Elephant’s Child says, you could extend on this and make it into a much longer piece.

    Thank you for participating in the WEP challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Heavey pollen won’t have those issues gone soon, fully understand the suffering. Take care! And, welcome back. You told a very descriptive very intriguing story. One of transformation without the horrid murder of a defenseless animal. Perfection! Beautifully done!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Roland – well that was a wonderful cultural take from an indigenous race’s way of life … I could definitely see it – and the necessity of him going through his progression … take care and well done – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful évocation of a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. I love to way you weave the ritual in with sensations of warm, cold and hot and the gripping of the vase with fingers. Well done. ThNk you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Magical opening, Christopher, with your rich weaving words continuing. The urn works perfectly – a vase with a purpose and not an ornament. I was curious where the tale was going – but not diverted from the reading ritual. Neat, warm ending. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I enjoyed this descriptive peek into a coming of age ritual, with it’s less typical use of a vase/urn. The intensity of the experience definitely comes across.

    Liked by 1 person

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