Transcendence, p.34
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       Transcendence, p.34

           Shay Savage
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Page 34

  I want us together.

  We should be together when it happens.

  Slowly, I approach Beh’s back and reach out to grab at her hand. Beh makes more sounds, and the man holds up a single finger, pointing it toward the sky as he shakes his head rapidly. I try to pull her back to me gently, but she resists.

  “Beh!”

  Her head swivels toward me, and her father makes more sounds.

  I hate, hate, HATE the sounds!

  With a growl, I pull harshly at her arm, bringing her to my side as I start to back away. Even knowing this man has to be her father doesn’t matter; she is mine, and I don’t understand what is happening. I need her. Lah needs her.

  The stranger begins to make his sounds much louder, and I roar back to silence him. Beh touches my cheek, and she makes soft, relaxing noises at me, but it does nothing to calm me. My heart is pounding, and my breath is quick. I want to pick her up and run back to the cave with her. I want to find my sharpest spear and guard the entrance, forcing this unknown away from my family.

  I need to protect Beh and Lah.

  “Ehd,” Beh whispers softly as her hand runs over the side of my face. She leans close and touches my nose with hers. Another tear runs down her face. “Luffs. ”

  “Luffs,” I repeat.

  “Luffs Lah,” Beh says, and her sounds are choked by her tears. She makes more sounds, and I hear Lah’s name-sound among them. Beh’s eyes look into mine, and her sadness cuts through my heart.

  “Lah…” I look down at the child in my arms. Her eyes are open again, but they are dull, and where they should be white, they are yellow. She stares up at me as her little chest hops up and down with labored breaths.

  Beh removes her hand from my face and drops it to Lah. She slowly pulls the girl from my arms and looks into my eyes as she backs away from me. I stand there in the field, stunned. My body chills from my shoulders all the way down my torso and out my limbs. I don’t understand, but the feeling of dread is unmistakable.

  Beh turns around and holds Lah in her outstretched arms. Her father reaches out and takes the baby carefully and gently in his arms. His eyes dart from the baby to his daughter and then to me.

  More sounds.

  I take a step forward, and a growl from my chest escapes. Beh holds her hand out toward me with her palm up.

  “No!”

  I stop moving, but the growl continues.

  More noises.

  First from him, then from her.

  His eyes grow sad, and his head bobs up and down.

  A choking sob comes from my mate as she backs away from the man and grabs a hold of my upper arm tightly. Her shoulder pushes against my chest, trying to propel me backwards. I stand still, bracing myself against her as my eyes harden at the sight of this man with my daughter in his arms. She is sick—dying—and I don’t want her anywhere but with her mother and me.

  He cradles Lah gently and uses his other hand to poke at the black rectangle thing he holds. A moment later, the humming, whirring sound begins again. Beh pushes hard against my chest again.

  “Ehd!”

  I look into her eyes, and the pain and hurt are too much. I can no longer hold back the sob that has been caught in my throat. Beh wraps her arms tightly around my neck as she pushes me with her whole body, forcing me backwards. I look out over her shoulder as the blue-grey sphere forms and spins around Beh’s father and Lah. It moves faster and faster, the noise becoming painful to my ears again. I squeeze my eyes shut and cringe from it.

  My mate grabs a hold of my shoulder and pushes me away roughly from the spinning thing. I feel as if my head is spinning just as fast, and through the noise and the confusion, I realize she has left Lah there, inside of the thing with her father.

  “Beh…Lah!” I look from her to the field where the flashes of red and gold now surround my daughter. I try to move toward it, but Beh holds tight to my arm, and an odd, prickly feeling covers my skin as I get closer. It makes the hairs on my arm stand up, and my head begins to pound. I hesitate, staring ahead as the image of the man holding my baby changes from outline to formless shape and then is gone.

  The whirring sound doesn’t fade this time but simply stops.

  “Lah?” My eyes search Beh’s, and she moves her head back and forth as tears flow freely. I look from Beh to the bleak, empty field and back again.

  Her body goes limp and weak, and I have to catch her in my arms to keep her from falling. Crouching slightly, I pull Beh up into my embrace and hold her to my chest, just as I had been holding our Lah only moments ago.

  “Lah!” I cry out louder. Beh tightens her arms around my neck, and she tucks her head against my shoulder and sobs.

  Her cries drown out my own screams.

  “LAH!”

  Finally, I realize our baby is gone.

  CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

  I sit, staring.

  The snows have melted. The trees have new leaves, and the field outside the cave is empty.

  Completely empty.

  In my hands is one of the leather triangles Beh would wrap around Lah to keep her from getting too messy when she relieved herself. In my mind are all my memories of her—how she smelled after her mother cleaned the dust and dirt off of her face, the way she would roll right off of the furs to try to get wherever it was she wanted to go, and how she felt lying securely in my arms.

  I should be hunting and gathering food, but I can’t do anything except sit on the ground and watch for some sign of my daughter.

  There is none.

  “Ehd?”

  I glance up toward the cave at my mate. She called to me before, but I didn’t move to go back inside. She walks over and holds out her hand to me. Our fingers wrap together, and I move up to my knees, glancing out over the empty field again as I do.

  Empty.

  Completely empty.

  “Lah?” I turn my eyes to Beh’s and see the dark blue color that had lived in our daughter’s eyes as well as the eyes of the man who took her away.

  Beh makes soft sounds and runs her fingers though my hair. It’s getting long again, and I wonder if she will make me sit still long enough for her to cut it shorter. I nuzzle my head against her stomach with my eyes closed, just inhaling the scent of her skin for a while.

  When I open my eyes again, I focus on the three small lines that grace Beh’s skin along her abdomen. They are marks left over from when she had Lah inside of her. I reach out with a single finger and stroke them slowly one at a time. When I look up again, Beh’s cheeks are wet.

  I haven’t tried to put another baby in Beh since Lah disappeared from the field in front of me. I also haven’t eaten or slept much. Beh did drag me down to the lake once, but I refused to get into the water, and I didn’t try to catch any fish. I only sat on the rocks and waited for her to be ready to return to the cave.

  As I continue to look at Beh, the feeling of sorrow and dread which have overwhelmed me since Lah disappeared seem to twist inside of me until they are replaced with shame. In my own grief, I haven’t been a good mate to Beh.

  My nose runs over each of the little lines as thoughts of her stomach getting round fill my head. It is spring, and I should be hunting to provide for my mate. I should be collecting wood and replenishing the cache above the cave. I should be making a trap for large animals so I can replace the leather and furs that have become worn with age.

  Looking up at Beh, I can see her sadness for Lah but also her worry for me—for us. I should be providing for Beh. I should be protecting her. I should be trying to give her another baby to help ease her pain of losing our first.

  Lah is gone, but Beh is young and strong. I will put another baby in her, and I will have to make sure when I do that there is enough food and other supplies to keep Beh healthy while she carries and then nurses another child.

  I stand and pick Beh up in my arms. She lets out a
little squeal of surprise, which makes me smile. I remember when she has done that before and wait to see if she will make the no sound.

  She doesn’t.

  I carry her inside the cave and set her down. My hands cup her face, and I lean in to drag my nose across her jaw.

  “Khizz?”

  Beh wraps her arms around my neck as our mouths touch. My penis hardens at her touch, and I would very much like to be inside her right away, but I remember how I refused to get in the water at the lake and how much Beh likes me to be clean. I break away, smiling at her and wiping the wetness from below her eyes.

  Gathering the hide on a stick and some of the collection baskets, Beh and I go to the lake. She collects cattails, reeds, and mushrooms while I set traps for rabbits and fish. Before we leave, I immerse myself in the cool water and let her use soaproot to wash my hair. When she is done with her own hair, I sit behind her and use the wood carving to help her get rid of the snarls.

  Beh keeps turning to look at me, and though my thoughts continue to return to Lah, I focus on my mate. I hope she will forgive me for not taking care of her as I should and will let me try again.

  We return before the sun sets, and I lay my mate in our snug furs. Our mouths and noses meet, and I hold her tightly against me as I fill her. She calls out to me and refuses to let go even when we are both too tired to move any longer. Eventually, Beh rolls to her side, and I move up behind her, holding her back to my chest as she sleeps.

  Beh is still sad, too, but she cooks the remaining grains at the back of the cave and gathers fresh buds to eat. She still tends the fire and makes sure we have water to drink. She is so beautiful, and I have been neglecting her.

  I can’t do that any longer.

  She is everything to me, and I have to be a good mate to her.

  My heart still aches for Lah, and I know another child will not be the same, but as I look at Beh, I realize there are many possibilities ahead of us. As I stroke her cheek, I know that every child that comes from her will be a part of us both, and each one will fill my heart again in a new way even if the hole left by Lah’s absence never completely fills.

  Beh turns again, and she reaches up with her hand to stroke over the short hairs on my face. I nuzzle against her with my nose, press my lips to her skin, and turn my attention to the front of the cave.

  I have to make sure she is safe.

  I stand, stretch my arms above my head, and look down at the fire, which is now built up again. The clay pots are empty, none of the cooked grains remain from breakfast. Beh’s appetite of late is amazing. I finish my stretch and move over to the other side of the fire.

  Everything has been easier this time—from the moment Beh took my hand and placed it over her abdomen to tell me there was a baby inside her until the day our son was born. I can only hope the next one is easier, too, though I don’t think there is another one growing inside of Beh yet. Hopefully the next one will be born in the spring, not the middle of winter like Lee was.

  Lee’s eyes are lighter than Lah’s—and I think they might be the same color as mine. A few days after he was born, Beh pointed to my eyes and to his over and over again. They look like the color of the evergreens when the sun hits the needles. I don’t know what color hair he will have because he is still almost completely without.

  As soon as I sit, Beh drops a piece of leather over my lap and lays Lee in the middle of it. I hold him as he wriggles and squirms, and his mother uses bits of cloth and warm water to wash him completely like she does every day. She does not want him dirty at all and washes him much more frequently than she ever did Lah. I don’t understand, but when it comes to my mate, I rarely do.

  I am content again, though. My nightmares stopped not long after we realized another baby was coming though Beh still sometimes cries out for Lah in her sleep. She did last night, but when I held her close, she settled down. I remember how scared she seemed, and I look up to her face.

  “Luffs!”

  Beh looks up at me and smiles, which is what I want. She takes the end of the cloth and wipes my cheek with it. There is probably soot on my face from when I was cooking breakfast. The water feels good and cools me off.

  Lee doesn’t seem to like it, though, and cries and squirms, trying to get out of my arms and crawl away. He’s been crawling all over the cave for several days now and even managed to find his way to the outside the previous morning. Now he heads for the crack of the cave every time he’s let loose.

  Beh laughs as I hold Lee up, and she finishes his cleaning. When she is done, I lay him down, hoping he will sleep a while so I can put another baby in Beh, but Lee doesn’t cooperate. With a giggle, Beh pushes us both outside, and I take Lee to the field to let him crawl naked through the grass while I use a piece of flint to sharpen up a new spear. I need to hunt antelope for their skins though the variety of meat would also be welcome.

  Lee rolls over to his side and peers at me with squinted eyes. He pushes his chubby body to a sitting position and pulls at the grass around him. Then he looks back to me.

  “Da da da da da da da!”

  He makes as much noise as his mother. I worry he will never be quiet enough to become a hunter and provide for his mate. Of course, I also wonder where he will find a mate. Siblings are not good mates, and that is all we can give him. Someday, we are going to have to go looking for other people. I can only hope to find a tribe who will be friendly. For the time being, I have been searching for a larger cave, but I haven’t found any bigger or better than where we live now.

  “Ma ma ma ma!” Lee raises his arms in the air and bounces up and down on his bottom. I hear Beh coming out of the cave behind me, and I turn to watch her, naked and glorious in the summer sunshine. She goes immediately to our child and picks him up in her arms, nuzzling his cheek with her nose. He grabs at her breast, which makes her laugh. She carries him over and sits beside me to feed him.

  I put down the flint and spear and turn to face her, reaching out and picking them both up to place them in my lap. I wrap my arms around Beh’s middle, giving Lee my forearms to lie upon while he nurses. He seems to be the most comfortable that way. Anytime I can, I hold Beh when she nurses the baby. When we are all close together like that, I can run my nose over Beh’s neck, smell her hair, and watch Lee, too.
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