Rite of Passage

The nights were growing more ominous.  Sesar's thirteenth birthday was approaching, and his feelings of dread grew stronger with every passing day.  He had tried seeking comfort from his beloved father, the man who had taught him everything, but that had been a mistake.  

"My son, I have guided you through your childhood, and done my best to teach you well.  I love you dearly, but I want you to believe me when I tell you this.  On the night of the first new moon after your next birthday, I will do my best to hunt you down and kill you."

Sesar's father spoke their native language beautifully with his aging voice.  Years of smoking the catlinite pipe at ceremonies had given it a deep wispy sound that reminded Sesar of both wind in the trees, and cracking chestnuts.  Now though, these words burned him like a hissing crackling fire.   

Their words for family, tribe, and village were nearly identical in pronunciation as well as meaning. It was Sesar's mother who had taught him the importance of all three.  He sat quietly watching her as she crafted the kachina doll.  Noticing his sullen look, she held up the doll and answered the question that he had not yet spoken.  

"This is you, my beautiful boy.  And when you go away, this is how I will remember you.  I will love this doll as I now love you."

These words seemed cruel to Sesar. 

"But when you return, you will be a man.  And you will take this doll and burn it in a fire; just as your two brothers did."

It was true.  Sesar had two brothers who had both gone out on a new moon when it was their time.  His father hunted them; tried his best to kill them.  But when the moon was full, they had returned to the village, the family and the tribe as men and burned their kachina dolls.  

His mother didn't answer the other question that he had not spoken.  What if he didn't come back?  He knew the answer already, and it haunted him.  He had seen his mother late at night cradling the other kachina doll and crying quietly.  That doll had never been burned.  That brother had never come back.      

The End

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