(I'm not in love with this section; I want to do some rehashing--which is one of the reasons why I've decided to share. By starting to actually share my writings, I hope to feel a stronger sense of responsibility to finish and polish my works.)
part 2 of 3
Maurette gasped as Chaz crumpled to the ground. She looked to the Reissod with fear and uncertainty.
“He was Illing,” the King’s servant explained nonchalantly as he wiped his blade on his bright cape, “and you... well, you will come with me. We will find your sons – twins?”
Maurette was too stunned to answer. She had never heard of any illness, and she feared she, too, was infected. Worse, though, she feared her sons were also sick, alone, and abandoned by their crazed father.
“They were twin boys, where they not?” the old man repeated almost impatiently.
“Yes,” Maurette stammered, “... they must be Illing, too... deformed... I, am I sick?”
“The disease only infects grown men, an unfortunate side effect of Chiding,” the Reissod spoke uncaring-ly as he helped Maurrette to her feet and guided her outside. “Did you see where your husband disposed of your boys?”
Sunlight caressed Jaiden’s anaemic face as he lifelessly stared out of the large window in front of him. His heavy breaths fogged the glass. He rocked gently, tapping his forehead against the thick pane; his reflection thereon only slightly blurred the coldness in his dark eyes.
Nyxia, fighting back concerned tears, sat next to her husband and lovingly stroked his thin, pale neck. Their son, Tristan, was not phased. During the short three years of his life, this was the only way he knew his father: a skeleton of a man, alive physically but seemingly dead inside.
“Then we went to the park, and I played on the swings!” Tristan excitedly told Jaiden of his day.
Seeing the two together was especially difficult for Nyxia. Jaiden’s collapse into his conscious coma happened the same day they welcomed Tristan into their family.
“I had cotton candy ice cream,” Tristan’s golden-flecked eyes shimmered with excitement, “and mommy pretended to eat hers like a monster. It got all over her face!” He giggled.
Nyxia smiled. Although she cherished Tristan’s coy giggle, she sometimes wished he would have inherited Jaiden’s boisterous laugh. She missed that laugh dearly.
A stocky orderly knocked on the door, “It’s time.”
Tristan hopped down from his mother’s lap, kissed his desolate father on the cheek and glowingly whispered, “Bye, papa. I love you.”
Nyxia softly kissed Jaiden’s neck, took Tristan’s hand, and solemnly left Jaiden’s room in the asylum.
Maurette didn’t speak as she and the Reissod walked toward the Souteastern Mines where Chaz would spend his days. She had known the dimness of the corridors all of her life, but everything seemed especially dark as they searched for any signs of her children.
The Reissod’s long, slender strides made it difficult for Maurette to keep up. She was as tall and lanky as he; however, she was extremely malnourished and hadn’t much energy. Maurette’s stomach groaned and knotted. She keeled over, reaching for the rough wall of the corridor to break her fall.
The Ressoid pulled a piece of dried meat from a ruby-adorned pouch hanging from his hip and offered the food to Maurette. She shook her head defiantly, stood, and began walking as quickly as she could.
“Suit yourself,” the King’s Reissod said emotionlessly as he returned the meat to his pouch, “But don’t expect me to carry you if you are too weak to walk.”
Maurette was growing more and more feeble, but she refused to eat. Years ago she had vowed to eat only when absolutely necessary. She knew she could make it at least one more hour.
She tried to keep her mind off of her starvation by fantasizing about her son’s importance to the King. Perhaps, she hoped, her son would end the necessity of Tshawings.
Her stomach lurched even more nauseously. Tshawings. Children ordained to be eaten. Maurette knew one must eat to survive, and she knew the only known food was the Tshawings. She had never thought twice about it until after her womb was set apart for the production of nourishment.
“This is daddy building me a tree fort when he gets better,” Tristan nibbled on a cookie as he colored.
Nyxia had tried explaining to Tristan that his father’s situation probably wouldn’t improve. Tristan, however, insisted that his dad would soon “be all better so that we can all play together.” Instead of trying to remind him once again, she smiled at Tristan and then went back to arranging the flowers they had picked during their walk home from the asylum.
At first, Maurette felt honored as she was blessed by His Holiness, the King, to be a Tshawer, a bearer of sustenance. It was the night she and Chaz were married. She stood with the other Tshawers, all dressed in their pale grey leather gowns, as the King presented each with her unique emblem. The Tschawers would need to burn their emblems into the swaddling leathers of their Tschawings. To prepare, each woman would practice burning her emblem into scraps of leather during the three-day Chiding, the process to prepare the spouses’ loins for Tschawing.
Maurette found her markings particularly odd. Most emblems were straight lines, a triangle with diamonds touching tangent to each side, for example. Her emblem, on the other hand, held no straight lines. In the center was a circle. From the circle’s circumference grew many long half ovals.
Tristan hopped up on Jaiden’s bed and gave his father a big kiss on the cheek. “I drew this picture for you. And mommy and I picked these flowers for your room.”
Nyxia placed a glass vase filled with daisies on Jaiden’s night stand. The clear water sparkled in the sunlight coming in from the room’s large window. Everything shone and warmed in the day’s brightness, contrasting Jaiden’s cold and darkly fogged glaze.
A few days after Chaz returned from his Chiding, Maurette was pregnant with her first Tschawing. She swelled with honor. When the infant was born, however, that honor melted to uncertainty. Soon, uncertainty wilted to guilt and guilt to shame. She realized that she loved the being that had grown inside of her.
She thought she was going crazy. Tschawings were meant to be eaten, not loved. Nevertheless, her heart broke as the collector took her first born away. Ever since she only ate the minimum to survive.