Loowit’s spirit flames dissipated, shrinking her, wrapping her in the cage of squishy flesh before the god Takhoma deposited her halfway down her mountain. She tumbled the rest of the way into the blood spilled from the dark maiden, staining Lootwit’s pale skin and white hair red. Her hands grew wrinkled, lined with blue and spotted with browns. Sagging and knobby bits swayed as she drew to her knees—hard, bony, and restrictive.
The maiden’s heart lay dark against the pale grass at the mountain’s edge—no longer beating, as it had been when the chief of this southern village tore it from her.
Large, rough hands lifted Loowit’s newly gained body, and she wobbled.
“That was a nasty spill, old maid.”
Loowit brewed a sharp look, finding the strong creased lines of the chief’s face. Old Maid. Voice as clear as the River of the Gods, just as it had been when she sat on her mountain to guard it.
He tugged her forward.
Skin moved against the air, and Loowit couldn’t understand how flesh could restrict and expose at once. Gathering herself in her arms, Loowit hobbled with the chief for pure loss at what else to do with her new spongy form.
“What were you doing up there, skyclad?”
Another of her looks scrutinized his face. A relatively young chief, he was old enough for a grown child but not yet for grown grandchildren.
“I was falling.”
He walked her in silence, and her flesh cut open to the rocks and roots underfoot. Beneath, the forest cover grew dark and noisy in the way the open sky and wind cannot be—with crackling, hissing, snapping, and grunting. An eerie sense of danger loomed, gnawing on her heels: the soul of the sacrificed maiden. The same young sunned woman with the midnight hair that danced around her breasts and stomach as she trembled, with the starry eyes telling of true fear.
Hair gathered from her shoulders, the chief drew back her head, sliced into her chest to empty her blood, and removed the maiden’s heart. As purity’s shell fell to the warmed earth, her still beating heart raised in the hands of her keeper, an offering Loowit never wanted. Loowit had cried out in distress, blowing dark smoke out into the air, embers circled her home, and tainted the river with her mourning.
No smoke bore from her under the shield of the canopy but remained in the broken mouth of her mountain, where her fire-essence remained, smoldering. Smoke floated into the air before her, wide and funneling toward the wispy white skies.
“Who are you?”
Spirit made human, her punishment for allowing the creatures to worship her and to spill blood in thanks for the warmth she fed into the ground to help their sick and feed their lots. “Loowit. I am Loowit.”
The silence in the man at her side shifted, and they walked toward the smoke and the people. Gazes followed her as the chief walked her through, to a hut smelling of roots and oils and fire. Inside glowed warm, relaxing Loowit’s skin and mildly easing her.
An old, dark woman sat before a hearth, warming her hands as they entered, a knowing smile in her eyes. The chief left them alone, and the other woman was quick to cover Loowit with the beaten and tanned flesh of animals so that she no longer had to keep her loose bits gathered.
“You wish for immortality,” the darker woman said.
Loowit nodded, examining her exposed skin and shifting in her dressings, her host watching the whole time. Finally, Loowit gave in and sat by the hearth, wishing to feel the crackling of warmth within her once again. No understanding of her punishment, Takhoma could not blame her for the actions of these creatures with their flesh shields to disconnect them from the vibrations of the earth. Creatures were made out of, not within, or along with. They took and rarely gave back without further request, but she had very little to offer them. Loowit merely enjoyed watching them flourish.
The other woman spoke in soft clicks and elongated vowels as her fingers brushed Loowit’s flesh. “I can give you.”
Whirlwind of dust and embers bathed her skin and filled her with some of what she’d lost. She once again could feel the heat flowing under the ground, mapping its cycles.
But her lumpy flesh suit remained intact as the darker woman’s hands and magic retreated from her, and Lootwit fell to the dirt in tears. She did not want to remain an old woman for eternity. She wished for her old form, or at least one that didn’t get in her way with its extra flop.
Weathered old fingers stroked her hair. “Not what you wanted, I know. I cannot give you that. You will have to go North for to gain new flesh.”
Embarrassed by her lack of gratitude, Loowit bowed and thanked the magic woman.
Autumn Lishky is a quiet, little woman with a big, loud imagination, and a dirty one at that. Living in the Oklahoma City area, she has worked various jobs from pizza delivery girl to night host at a funeral home, but no matter the nature of her income, she is always lost in a world of fantastic sex.