At home After the Ordeal
Mira, after she had carried her daughter into her bed, undressed her, put her pajamas on then tucked her in, sat at the edge of her bed and watched her for a few seconds longer, thinking, My darling, you have proven yourself today. You are as strong as I thought you would be.I’m so proud of you. Well done.
Matica had fallen asleep sitting on the table telling her and her brother Aikon everything she had seen and experienced walking with her dad to the big city of Cajamarca and back. On the way home, after they had visited the Inca dwelling, a nasty, huge, black and hairy spider with long legs and a large, round body – as big as a dinner plate – had bitten her dad on his ankle twice, as they had found out later. Seeing the bite, they treated it with the leaves the condors had given her dad. He suffered a near-death experience while having a bad reaction to the bite and the poison. She also told them how tormented she had been, that she didn’t know what to do until the birds had found them through a raven, as she believed it was.
Aikon came to the door, shook his head, interrupting his mother’s thoughts. ‘That must have been really something that she fell asleep now. It’s not even lunchtime.’
Mira stood up and guided him out of the room. ‘No wonder, I would say, Aik, with what she had to go through.’
Aikon sat at the table, staring into the nothingness. His eyes clouded over when he nodded and whispered, admitting, ‘Well, I couldn’t have done that at all.’
Mira pulled out a chair from under the table and sat opposite him. Smiling at her son, she implied, ‘Give me your hand, Aik.’
Aikon, frowning and not looking at his mother, rather looking at the table top, reached his hand across the table. Mira grabbed it and patted it, looking for long seconds at his brown and wavy hair.
Finally she stated, ‘Don’t say that. You could do it as well, if you had to, as Matica had to, because she was pushed into it.’ As his eyes filled with tears, thinking about what his sister had told him how it was after their dad was bitten; he shook his head and tried to blink the tears away, to clear his vision. Since it didn’t work, he wiped his eyes with the back of his other hand. Then he looked up into his mother’s eyes when she continued, ‘You would have done the same as your sister did. The ability kicks in when you are in danger, in trouble and in jeopardy. I believe that very strongly.’
He looked with disbelief into his mother’s eyes and shook his head slowly and probed, ‘You think so?’
Mira nodded and squeezed his hand. ‘Yes, I believe that very strongly.’
‘You have lots of faith in me.’ Mira nodded. ‘But,’ he pointed out, ‘I’m only five and three-quarter years old. Mat is much older. She’s ten. Do you think I still could have done it? I think her age kicked in and she knew better what to do in that situation. Don’t you think?’ He pursed his lips. ‘You only like to cheer me up.’
‘You’re a wise and clever boy. Hmm, maybe,’ Mira mused. ‘I hope you never need to go through something like that. It’s terrible as it is at all ages. It would have been to me as well. At least she had the condors. They helped her. Without them?’ She shook her head. ‘I don’t know what would have happened.’
Aikon nodded, not even saying anything about his mother’s remark of being a wise and clever boy as he would normally do. He just acknowledged, ‘Yes, that’s the answer Mat could cope with. The condors.’
Mira put his hand down on the table, stood up and went into her bedroom to undress her husband, since Pajaro, when they brought him home, had laid him fully dressed on his bed. First she pulled off his shoes then started to pull down his trousers when she heard her daughter’s throaty voice. She looked up, frowned, then went back to her bedroom. Aikon stood in the door, watching his sister. Mira had to look over the top of his brown, curly locks.
Matica was propped up on her elbow in her bed, straining to keep her eyes open as she looked at Aikon. Next her eyes wandered up to her mother. ‘Talon,’ she lolled.
Aikon looked up at his mother, stating, ‘Mum.’ He looked back at his sister. ‘I guess she really wants to hear the story about Talon. She can’t let it go for today.’
‘It looks that way. But I don’t think she has the strength to hear it now. Maybe she’s listening when I begin, but not to the end, she needs sleep.’ Mira pushed past her son and sat on Matica’s bed again, stroking her cheek gently with the back of her hand.
Matica said accusingly, but with closed eyes, still propped up on her elbow, ‘Hey, don’t talk about me in the third person. Talk to me. I can hear, I am here. But, you see,’ she continued, as her voice started to slur, ‘it’s not fair. I was telling you all about our stories from the trip to Cajamarca. And now I can’t hear the story about Talon, the most important one for me. It’s not fair.’ Her voice wound down even more, like a toy that was running out of batteries.
Matica’s head slammed on her mother’s shoulder. ‘Ouch,’ she whispered.
Mira kissed her daughter’s cheek and pushed some hair out of her face and behind her ear, then she pressed her shoulders gently down so Matica lay in her bed once more. Her heavy eyelids slowly closed over her big eyes. Leaning over her, Mira assured her, ‘The story about Talon is not running away, Mat. It’s branded in my brain, believe me. I’ll tell it tomorrow when Dad is awake as well. He should hear it too, you know. Now, get to sleep.’ Mira tucked her in again but, like a roly-poly, she was sitting up again. ‘Dad?’
‘What about Dad?’ Mira asked her.
Aikon, who sat on his bed opposite his sister’s and watching her, bent over to her and looked into her face. Her eyes were closed. He moved his hand in front of her face now, then declared as no movement came from her, ‘Mum, look. I think she’s asleep, sitting up.’ Next he bent close to Matica’s face so that he nearly touched her nose with his nose. After that he waved his hand before her closed eyes, creating a gentle breeze. No reaction came from her, no movement, nothing, only her regular breathing. Then he whispered to her, ‘How can you sit up so nicely and sleep and not lay down, even talk and say “Dad” in your sleep?’ He looked, puzzled, at his mother. ‘Mum? She should lie down.’
‘Let her. She will fall down sooner or later, I hope.’ Mira stood up and went back to her husband, finishing his undressing. Aikon followed her and sat on the bed, next to his dad.
Shortly after they heard shuffling noises. Surprised, they looked at each other’s eyes and went to the living room. They found Matica sitting at the table again.
‘Mum, what are we going to do with her?’ Aikon asked. ‘She’s determined.’
Aikon sat opposite her at the table, putting his elbows on the table, his chin into his cupped hands and watched his sister as she seemed to sleep, sitting up at the table. Mira sat beside him. Both watched Matica, not really knowing what to do with her.
Mira just decided to start telling her all about Talon until she would really fall asleep, when Matica’s head slammed forward onto the table.
Lying with her cheek on the table, her arms hanging down underneath it, her eyes opened. ‘What’s going on?’ Stirring, and with her strong will and determination and eager to hear the story about Talon, she pushed herself up against the table with her hands. Once more sitting up straight, she shook her head as if she wanted to shake the sleepiness out of her system. Her eyes were wide open now. But when she spoke again, her voice was like a gentle breeze. ‘I really want to know how…’ Her heavy eyelids slowly closed over her eyes, her mouth open and again she slammed forward. Lying once more with her cheek on the table, she murmured, ‘Talon, Talon, how…’ This time Matica drifted off into dreamland .
Mira stood up, picked up her daughter and carried her to bed. Aikon just looked after her, shaking his head, declaring, ‘How can she be so sleepy and still be so strong?’
Mira looked over her shoulder back at him. ‘She’s strong-willed. That’s it.’ But then she said to her daughter in her arms, ‘Come on, Mat. It’s bedtime for you. The story is not walking away. I know you’re eager to hear it, but I don’t think you could pay enough attention to hear it through to the end and that would be a shame. You should hear it all, you know. It’s a wonderful story.’
‘Yes,’ Aikon said and stood up, walking behind his mother. ‘Mum will tell it when you’re fully awake again to hear it. Then Dad can hear it as well.’
Mira assured her again as she laid her into bed, tucking her in once more. ‘Yes, I will, believe me. We’d better wait for tomorrow.’