Take it from me, this weakness,
Take it from me, this pain I cannot bear,
I can swim strong
I can weather the fiercest current
If only you would take from me this weight
— Zhingani prayer
Photo credit: Steve Johnson
You were supposed to paint your regrets, but how could you pull those apart from loss, self-hatred, anger?
Jai’s body was covered in it. Blue for her eyes. Yellow for love. White for the empty pit inside him.
Red for the blood he couldn’t stop, no matter how he’d screamed, pleading with the gods.
All day, friends and neighbors reached out to touch him. Acknowledging. Sympathizing. Their arms and chests were painted too, but today, he had no eyes for them.
Now he stood on the bank of the Ight, flowing highest today, holiest.
Voices buzzed around him, praying, crying. Some child laughing. Splashes, as others found their time, asked the goddess to wash away their burdens.
Jai’s brother patted his shoulder. “Come, let Zhinga cleanse this grief, before it drowns you.”
As Jai stared at the symbols on his chest, his tears began the process the river would finish.
“She would want you to keep living.”
Nodding, Jai staggered forward. His vision blurry, he slipped on a wet rock, grabbing his brother’s hand for balance.
Steadied, he let go, and stepped alone into the Ight.
Color swirled, surrounding him, slipping around his fingers.
“Please,” he prayed, sobbing. “Take it.”
Word count: 200. For this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction challenge. Thanks to Alastair Forbes for hosting, and for providing the original inspirational photo, below. Click here to read the other stories.
Thanks also to Lynn Love for challenging me to write a story about “walking in the ight” — sometimes a typo can lead to the most interesting things! Update: Lynn has her story up now and it’s a chilling sci-fi dystopic take on our type prompt. Check it out here: Step into the Ight.
Photo © A Mixed Bag / Al Forbes