The day began, just in time. My mother stood at the makeshift altar, feverish, slick with sweat. So much responsibility on such frail shoulders. She turned to face the morning, a portrait of joy at the touch of golde
n fingers, a sculpture entitled Tenacity, staring down the firing squad’s sights. Only one gun is loaded, the other eight carry blanks. To absolve the soldiers of their guilt, to convince them that maybe, just maybe it wasn’t their bullet.
They took me there to see it, to watch my mother die. To reinforce their brutal accusation. We were the last, they whispered, the final worshippers of a dead legend, of a forgotten God. I held my tongue against such sacrilege. If what they say is true it only makes my mission more important. Silent and watchful I sit, meek, demure – waiting for them to execute her.
The day began before the sunrise, with the death-rattle of kettle drums, with the trumpeting voice of the minister, beseeching, begging for my mother to recant her heresy. To deny our God – to deny what can plainly be seen in the blue sky! She refused, her voice cracking in terror, but still proud. They took me away from her, yesterday was the first time I had seen her since the night they had come for us. The night they killed my father.
My father, shot in the forehead.
My father, the smile in his eyes extinguished with the bark of a rifle. He crumpled and fell. As though he were hollow inside, empty, made of air. Made of sunlight – just as the Scriptures said.
Yesterday was the first time in weeks I had seen my mother sweep her straw-coloured hair from her eyes, to gaze on His radiant countenance. The first time they had let me out into the half-light of dawn to see the golden disc of the sun rising above his kingdom. A single red blossom opened on her neck and her knees collapsed beneath her. A fine red mist painted the pockmarked concrete behind her, as droplets danced above the dusty ground, as the soldiers cursed the assassin’s poor aim, each hoping he was not the executioner. She collapsed, choking on the vibrant, bubbling red that flooded her lungs.
I will relive her slow, tortured death in each of my remaining moments.
I hope the soldiers do too. I hope they sleep uneasy next to their wives, unable to confess their crime, unable to gain repentance.
This morning began before the dawn. They bound me, gagged me, stood guard at my side to ensure I would not begin the recital. “Superstitious nonsense,” they whispered, their false bravado a shield against an ancient curse.
I pray that I am not the last.
“The sun, praise His Golden Face…” my mother’s last words playing through my mind.
Today began, clouds boiling in the heavens around his throne, his heralds silent, their voices gagged with mine.
Today began, and ended.
The sky fell.