Brenda Cooper

Mayan December – Chapter 2

Ah Bahlam sat so still that only his heart and lungs moved. He called to his Way, his totem. Show yourself. Feel the part of me that is you and heed my call.
His back rested against the large buttressing root of a ceiba. The jungle crawled and skittered, and sang around him, alive to his long silence. A tapir rooted in the underbrush to his left and a green iguana moved listlessly in the winter heat. His pet quetzal, Julu, fluffed its feathers above him. Fish jumped in the sacred cenote below, flashing in the bit of light that directly reached the yellow-green waters of the underground cave.
The jaguar did not come.
He resisted the urge to shift with restlessness, knowing that any movement would return the jungle around him to silence. He needed success; tomorrow he would leave for home. If he returned to Chichén Itzá without the energy of Jaguar, he would be nothing. He would not be able to dance the dance of the Way, or play in the ball game.
Worrying would not help.
He exhaled slowly to drain all expectation from his center. He needed to become empty.
Howler monkeys chattered high in the trees as white doves called quietly back and forth to each other. The tapir grazed so close by that he could have reached out and touched its coarse fur.
He closed his eyes, feeling the growth of lianas, knowing which way the snake turned. Birds became his voice, trees his limbs, the rich soil the root of his energy.
Footsteps. Small ones, but loud in the way they silenced the world.
The jaguar? Shouldn’t it be quieter?
He opened his eyes to an apparition bending down gently by the waters of the cenote. She couldn’t bemore than a girl, but no human looked like this. Golden hair surrounded her face and fell in light waves down her shoulders. The one eye he could see held the blue of a summer sky, and her skin was nearly the white of bones. Her legs and arms were bare, and she wore clothes that fit close to her body and were brightly colored like sacred buildings. Her clothes were so carefully made, so fine, they must have been spun by gods.
She bent down before the cenote, reaching a finger out and touching the almost still pool. Water rippled away from her finger in tiny waves, and she laughed.
What did this mean? The girl cast a reflection in the water. So she could not be a spirit or a god. Had she been sent as a sacrifice? She looked too young. Her chest was flat and her waist still slightly thick with childhood even though she had wider hips than any woman he knew.
He remained totally still, entranced. As if he had become part of the great root at his back, he could not have moved or changed the scene in front of him if he wanted to.
She slid her sandals off, put down a small bag she was carrying, and sat with her feet in the pool. The world did not shift as she did it. Rather, the sacred waters accepted her into a place no one should touch except in ceremony. She began to hum a tune he had never heard, high and light like her laughter, and then stood, stretching her arms up to the sun. She stepped into the cenote, first one step, and then another.
The water rippled away and back to her, lapping against her pale calves. Directly in front of her, the walls of the earth closed over black water.
Rumor had it that the current in this cenote flowed underground to the village just outside of Zama, a quarter turn of the sun from here by foot.
He had spent many days in ceremony here this summer, and he knew she could not go much further.
Apparently, she did not.
With a little cry, she plunged into the deep waters and they closed over her head.