Gnawing, cont

It was going on a week before someone found me.

That ain’t quite right either. Tripped over me, I reckon it went, and they dug me out under not much dirt at all. I can’t hardly remember sitting up or walking back, and even when the other girls took shifts watching me over. The acolytes sat with me all patient, I couldn’t tell them what had happened after it went dark.

“Mara took me,” I kept telling them. “Ain’t that good enough?”

“That isn’t… that doesn’t…” None of them had the guts to finish the damn sentence, but I knew it clear anyway. Felt like the maggots still sat inside, whispering sometimes.

“So where in the world do you think I was?” I finally snapped. “Sure and I wasn’t just laying there in the trees for days.” They think you’re lying, the maggots said. They know your secrets. They know you’re awful.

The acolytes didn’t want to answer, but one of the girls in my cohort finally did. “You’re not special,” she spat, and the older women at least made a show of looking horrified. “You don’t have to lie about getting anxious about your decision date. We all do, and we don’t make up stories about it.”

I surely wanted to argue with that, but I didn’t have a damn word coming to me. I never have been the arguing type. Instead I just watched the acolytes shuffling all the folks back out and I didn’t know what to think. I felt about as useful as a compost pile that ain’t been turned.

My chest ached, and sitting there in the dark I could’ve swore I felt something crawling around inside. I was sure as my mama’s farm that it’d been Mara took me under. She saw I was rotting inside. Course she did, she took corpses all the time.

Was it her way of keeping the rot outta her temple, or something more’n that?

There wasn’t a thing keeping me there. Not wanted, not missed, whispered the maggots. I packed my things. I didn’t know where I was gonna go, but I wanted to be on my way afore they told me to get out.

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