Whiteface - Part II
by Jared Oliver Adams
. . . continued from issue 24 . . .
When the Curer was done talking, Otter slumped back home to his chikhee. He felt
numb. He understood now why his father had let himself starve to death those
many years ago. Nothing mattered. He had failed and nothing mattered. Why not
sit and wait for death to come? Why stave it off?
Lake-bloom sought to comfort him. She rubbed his back in great circles as he
looked outside at the village from his chikhee, watching people go about their day
as if nothing had happened. A pair of hunter-warriors were cooking a small
alligator on a rack above a fire. They were talking and laughing. Three chikhees
over, a group of men and women sat and plaited strips of palm branches together to
make mats. A few children who had chosen blue and would be crafters were sitting
with them, learning their future trade. To the side of their chikhee, a cloud of flies
hovered over the house's dung basket. One of the unclean would come at night and
take it for use in the fields the next day. One like Otter's son.
For days, Otter stayed in his house. He wanted to leave, to go far away, but he
couldn't bring himself to expend the effort. After a week, Lake-bloom announced
that she was going to visit Whiteface in his recovery. "You should come too,
husband, for he is still our son and visiting him now will help heal the rift between
us." She was wrong though. Otter had no son, and neither did she. The day of his
naming, infant Whiteface had caught an illness, and though Otter and Lake-bloom
had later thought they'd cured it, the illness turned out to be fatal.
Their son was dead.