The Lamb and the Flame

by Cilola Magdalena

 

The beast that hunts me is not a creature which you can know fully by name, appearance or demeanour. It is a beast that can only be beset upon  you by the cruellest of men: the kind who take the breath from your throat and the milk from your insides.

My cruel man did not know that I am well versed in the art of the curse. My people are people of resilience and muti. We rely only on the mercy of the fauna and our gods. The Lamb and the Flame.

My mother saw my beast through the kitchen window and gave me a handful of rhodonite stones to keep him away. Lumps of charred flesh. I glide through the silent husk of the township with dusty guipure cloaked around my face.

In the heart of the garden, with my three sisters by my side, I put his name into the earth with a fist full of dirt and a piece of inked parchment.

Because of my mother’s stones, an effervescent light emits from my breastbone which lures both those with the desire to maim and the desire to love. The light burns those who try to get too close and hold bad intentions in their heart. The scent of singed flesh follows me, sticks to my hair.

I keep a wax candle lit for my keeper’s spirit by our bed.

He who pleasures me with bountiful kisses, who carries me while I weep like a hapless babe.

He who runs, punches, screams when I feel like a trapped black rat. When I scurry in the dark. When there is no fight left in me.

When I can fight I bare my teeth and growl grotesque words which make the spirits run into the ether. My curses make the tree branches curl.

My keeper may disappear if the orange flame is extinguished but the beast is always behind me. The beast chews and spits mint leaves onto the floorboards. I savour the sound of the sludge.

When I feel his hot breath at the back of my neck, I bring a machete to my throat until he retreats. I am enraptured with the tender delight of terror.

If there is no me, there is no him. My devil will follow me into the white mud where the dead live and the living die. I see them writhing. Limp limbs sticking to the slurry with sallow eyes and pallid skin.

I pull my mother’s long white chemise over my bones. It has several dissimilar buttons sewn into it. They’re cold to the touch. Slipping my feet into my father’s dirt caked boots, I sit by the kitchen window. Rubbing the stones between sweaty palms, I place the machete between my teeth.