/----- Vision Quest -----\ ---- By W. C. Griffin --\- @April 26th, 2005 -/ Take it from me, life sucks. Oh sure, there's good times.

I mean look ar ound you: couples everywhere having their first kiss, children rolling in the gr ass, the happy playful yelp of a puppy. Yes, there are good times, but what abou t the bad ones? Where do they come from? They come from the good times. What, do n't you agree? Here, let me tell you my story, it was three years ago... The sun set quickly, seemingly eager for the festivities to begin. It wa s the night of my sixteenth birthday, the day I was to pick my bride. There was loud music, and loads of food. The torches were all lit around the villages cent ral fire. The air was filled with the voices of many happy people. As the last r ay winked out over the horizon, fathers voice bellowed across the crowd. He sat with his headdress proudly resting upon his brow, his dark figure reflecting the glow of the central fire. Everyone stopped to watch as my father rose from his bamboo throne. "Today is my son's day! Today, he celebrates his ascension to manhood. T oday, he chooses his wife!" His voice echoed over the crowd, but was quickly dro wned out by the hoots of excitement. My father held his hand out to me, and I ca me to stand beside the throne. Suddenly the hoots rose in volume. Father allowed this to continue for a few moments before raising his hand. Slowly the noises o f excitement dwindled to quiet, and my father continued. "Before my son names his bride, I invite you all to partake of this magn ificent feast! Drink and dance and sing!" With this last, my father threw his ar ms in the air, and the crowd dispersed to socialize. That night became a blur of fun and excitement. I remember very little o f that night, but what little I do remember, I will tell. When people first star ted mingling, I attempted to find the girl who had caught my eye weeks earlier. I found instead a beauty named Ashanta. She had long flowing hair, large luminou s eyes, a musical laugh. She was beautiful, true, not what I had thought of as t he ideal woman but still she was beautiful. The rest of the night I spent lost i n the bliss which emanated from her soul. There was nothing left in the world bu t her. As the moon began its descent from the heavens, my father called me fort h and with great ceremony asked me to name my bride. There was no real doubt in my mind, Ashanta was the one. As soon as I said it though, the Medicine Man glar ed at me and turned away. Suddenly I wasn't so sure. But it was done, the villag e people danced and cheered. I had named my bride, and together we would lead th e tribe to happiness and prosperity. A year and one day later, we were married to the rising of the sun. The journey of the year had been a happy one, and there were no misgivings. But stil l, as the Medicine Man married them, there seemed a great sorrow behind his eyes . But the day went on, and all were happy. Everyone danced and laughed, the gods blessed is with beautiful weather, a bountiful harvest, and a baby within the c oming year. My son was born on a beautiful spring day. It was the happiest day of my love. At his naming ceremony I named him Bundapa, the Teller of Prophecies, bri nger of Wisdom. This was when things turned around, when all the happy times tur

ned bad. I came home from the hunt on an early summer day. It had been a poor hun t, and most of the hunters returned empty handed. Ashanta greeted me at the cook fire, deeply immersed in her cooking. Bundapa wasn't with her, so I went into th e hut to chech on him. He wasn't lying on the skins where I expected to find him . When asked, Ashanta simply pointed toward the river. I was confused, and I adm it, a little scared, so I ran in the direction she had pointed. When I stopped, the river flowed swiftly by, gurgling at my feet. But the river was not what I s aw. Caught in the grass at the river bank were the skins my son had been swaddle d in. Quickly, I retrieved them, and beneath them I found the true horror. My so n lay face down in the water, his body was limp. Cold. Tears flooded my eyes and I fell to my knees, my sons lifeless body cradled in my quivering arms. I don't know how long I knelt there, but I stayed until I no longer had tears left to c ry. My sons arms hung loosely over my own as I staggered through the village toward my hut. The hut of the village chief. Sitting outside his own hut, the M edicine Man cast his bones, but I hardly noticed. When I finally reached my hut Ashanta waited inside with bowls of soup waiting to be eaten. She looked numb. I tried to speak, but found I had no voice. I tried again, and a barely audible v oice came forth. "What did you do?" Ashanta did not respond, she just bowed her head. Anger flooded my veins momentarily relieving my grief, and I beat her. She had killed my son. She had stolen my life. She had taken my soul. Everything that mattered to me, she had t aken. When finally, my anger cleared, she lay at my feet sobbing. Her blood co vered my fists, the walls, the floor. I hardly felt any remorse, but, for some s trange reason, I still loved her. Tears came anew at the realization of what I'd done. Leaving the hut, I sought out the Medicine Man. Ashanta's cuts and bruise s would need to be tended to. Her soul would need to be cleansed of the evil whi ch had caused this. It turned out the Medicine Man was already heading for my hut. Without a sking any questions, he told me to wait at his hut while he tended to Ashanta. It was too late for Bundapa, he said. So I waited. At my feet were the bones the Medicine Man had cast earlier. There, a small mouse skull was penetrated by ano ther small bone. The other bones were scattered about all in pairs, and all cros sed. I didn't know it then, but this was a really bad omen, and I wish I had kno wn. The Medicine Man cared for Ashanta for what might have been several week s, but I hardly noticed the time pass by. I was numb, and I hurt. I had no idea what life would hold for me now. When finally, the Medicine Man reported that As hanta was well enough to have visitors, my spirit lifted. I would finally be abl e to see the woman that I loved. Certainly I was unhappy, and a part of me didn' t want to see her again, but that was not the way of my people. She lay on our bed waiting for our arrival. Both her arm, and her leg we re wrapped in skins and braced by branches. She was bruised all oved, and when s he gave us a weak smile I could see that she was missing some teeth. My gut wren ched at the damage I had done, and I vomited. I forced myself to look at her aga in, but vomited some more. I couldn't look at her. I had to leave, so I excused myself. When the Medicine Man returned, he explained that much damage had been d one, and the damage to her soul was deep, but in 3 days time, she would look bet ter.

I didn't sleep well that night. I hadn't slept well since that fateful d ay. My sleep was disturbed by visions of my wife, broken and bruised. Disturbed by memories of my son floating in the river. I woke many times with sweat on my brow. When the sun finally crawled through the doorway, the Medicine Man followe d. Standing in the doorway, he looked at me or rather, through me, with a haunte d look on his face. A single tear rolled down the wise man's face as he explained the mornin gs events. When he arrived to care for Ashanta, she'd made her way to her vegeta ble baskets. She was crying. He tried to soothe her, and lay her down again, but she wouldn't allow it. Instead she screamed about how she'd let me, her husband down, how I would never forgive her. She cried about how I would never be able to look at her again. Then, before he could stop her, she suddenly grabbed her k nife from her baskets, and jabbed deeply into her neck. She flopped to the groun d, blood gushing from the new wound. The Medicine Man recovered from his shock q uickly, and tried to help her, but her blood pumped around the blade with too mu ch ferocity. He could not stop the bleeding. He had had to watch her die, jerkin g convulsively and screaming a gurgled scream. When she was finally still, he'd closed her terrified eyes and smoothed her features before preparing her for the her the Great Journey. I sat staring at the Medicine Man as he told his tale, tears flowing fre ely down his face. I was supposed to be chief to my people, but yet, I couldn't keep my own family happy, healthy and alive. How could I be expected to lead my people? I needed answers. I needed to grieve. I needed to be alone. After a time , I expressed these thoughts to the Medicine Man. He seemed to have anticipated this, and handed me a ready made pouch. He explained that within, was all that would be necessary for a vision quest. Then he removed my medicine bag, explaining that it had acquired too much negative e nergy, and gave me a new one. With that, he sent me away. I travelled through the wilderness for several days, each day asking the Gods for guidance, and each day feeling more depressed, more separated from the Gods. On the seventh day of my journey, my eyes settled on what seemed to be th e silhouette of Coyote, The Trickster, against the rising sun. I stood shielding my eyes for a better view, but now Coyote was gone. In its place was a figure w hich bore strong resemblance to the Medicine Man. I called for him, but his silh ouette disappeared into the sunrise. Even the wisest man I knew turned his back on me, abandoned me. Instead of advising me he left me to reflect on events by m yself. Take it from me, life sucks. Oh sure, there's good times. I mean look ar ound you: couples everywhere having their first kiss, children rolling in the gr ass, the happy playful yelp of a puppy. Yes, there are good times, but what abou t the bad ones? Where do they come from? They come from the good times.

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