Wind Walkers: A Choice

Wind Walkers: A Choice

A Chapter by J.A. Marquez
"

Bethany must decide where her loyalty lies.

"
The fresh air tickled her bare skin as Bethany undressed at the water's edge. Beside her, Lydia braided her long hair and secured it atop her head. It had been three days since their last bath. There was no hesitation amongst the women to wade into the crisp water. It rippled around their curved bodies, and sprayed up where the younger girls splashed and played. Bethany and Lydia ran into the shallow surf, tumbling into the clear pool. Beneath the surface Bethany let the water free her. She felt her hair spread out and sway in the current like the green weeds below. When she broke through the water dripped from her face and the slight breeze chilled her skin. She had not felt so refreshed in quite a long time.

Though the men were to be minding their work, she could feel their eyes searching eagerly among the naked bodies of the women. It was no secret that bathing days were also conception days. Although Bethany was more than certain that not one man was oggling his own wife. The women kept their backs to the camp for this reason, revealing little more than the curves of their backs.

Curiosity overtook Bethany, though, and she turned to see who might be watching her. Immediately her gaze went to Gomez, whose head was dropped. An awkward feeling of disappointment stirred in Bethany. To her own shame she realized that she wanted him to look. For what reason was a mystery to her. No good would come of it. She scanned the rest of the camp and as expected the men glanced over their shoulders, and paused at their work to steal a glimpse of what was hidden beneath the water.

"Is Peter looking?" Lydia asked in a whisper.

Bethany searched for her friend's fiance only to find that he was enthralled with a far more voluptuous young woman a few feet to their left.

"He's turned to the water." She said, sparing her friend's feelings.

Lydia's face burned red and a shy smile spread on her lips. She was truly in love with Peter, though she barely knew him. Until the day of their wedding they were to remain apart, but for the sharing of meals. This was the tradition of the elders, put in place to ensure decency among the youths.

"The wedding is soon." Lydia reminded Bethany as she often did.

"Yes, and you will make a beautiful bride."

"And you will make a beatuiful maid of honor."

Bethany was flattered, but she feared that with the way things were going she would be exiled long before the wedding took place.

"Do you think Peter will be a loving father?" Lydia asked.

"I suppose so. He's a gentle spirit and very mindful." Bethany pointed out.

"Yes, and he's so handsome, too."

This could not be denied. As far as wind walker men were concerned Peter was among the most eligible of bachelor's. In fact he was a close second to Caleb who was desired by all of the young women. If Bethany were not so repulsed by him she might consiser herself lucky.

"Lydia," She faced her friend. "Do you ever wish for something more in life?"

An undignified snort came as response.

"What more could you wish for? You are the daughter of chief Roon. The respect of all tribes will be yours if you quit this nonsense and follow your destiny."

"I don't know," Bethany sighed and waded deeper. "maybe I want a new destiny."

"Bethany, this will pass. We will move on as we always do and you will marry Caleb and become chief. No more of this, please."

It was hard to decide what was more degrading - being told that her desires were petty or that marrying Caleb was the best she could hope for. A strong desire to lash out burned in her belly. She parted her lips to speak, but a hush fell over the clearning.

A loud crack echoed from the common and all of the women turned to see its source. Horror struck Bethany like a blunt knife in the chest. Gomez was collapsed against the post and over him stood Caleb with a short whip in hand. In an instant time stopped and all that remained was the deep booming beat of Bethany's heart. Her ears rang as blood rushed to her brain, which was desperately trying to work out the scene. Another crack and Gomez's limp body lurched.

There was an indistinct shriek and Bethany felt herself moving forward as if in a dream. She crawled onto the sand and quickly threw her clothes onto her body. Water dripped from her hair and sand stuck to her legs. It chafed as she ran, scraping and burning her calves.

"No!" She tried to scream, but her voice was choked.

She charged into the common, the water from her body soaking through her clothing so that it clung to her. The whip came down again and she felt the sting inside of her. Before Caleb could raise his arm for another lashing Bethany threw herself in front of Gomez.

"Stop it!" She cried.

Caleb's face hardened and he lowered his hand.

"Move." He seethed.

Terrified, she remained still, her back pressed against the bloodied flesh of the prisoner. She felt the hot fluid seeping onto and staining her clean shirt. Heavy breaths came from her chest in a rhythmic hyperventilation. Everything moved slowly and yet in a matter of seconds the chief was before her demanding an explanation.

"What is the meaning of this?" He roared.

Bethany trembled and squeezed her thighs together, suddenly aware of the immense pressure on her bladder.

"Just let him go." She begged.

Jonah's face seemed to drop several shades so that his eyes were like blue jewels embedded in red leather. A single vein pulsed in his forehead.

"Get away from him." He growled.

"Not until you let him go." Her voice was wild and quaking.

"He has swayed you and must be punished." He bellowed back.

"Nobody has swayed me! I am not a sheep to be herded."

"You are a girl and you have found tenderness for this man that is not of our people."

Bethany was caught unprepared. Her father was suggesting that she had fallen for Gomez.

"I don't even know him!" She protested.

"Then how can you defend him so readily with your own life?" Caleb said through clenched teeth.

At last it clicked in her head. They weren't punishing Gomez for stowing away. They were beating him because they thought he had stolen her heart. It was absurd - and yet she could not move herself from him.

"Please, don't do this." She whimpered.

The new, more lethal fear caused her muscles to weaken and she felt a warm trickle down her inner thigh. Cold pin pricks covered her body.

The chief hesitated, giving her one last chance to go free. She could not move, frozen with terror. With an empty glaze to his eyes Jonah said his final words to his daughter before turning his face from her.

"Goodbye, Bethy."

Numbness overtook her and she did not feel the full power of ths whip as it cut into her forearm. Caleb's face was the embodiment of his rage and he spilled out his disdain onto her. Each blow was harder and soon she felt herself collapsing as well. She did not scream, but steeled herself against the horrific pain. Then the whipping stopped and a large hand gripped her arm tightly, throwing her over so that she was layed over Gomez's back like a blanket.

"You want to protect him?" Caleb snarled. "Then be his shield."

The whip came down with the full force of his strength and at last a single and desperate shriek forced its way from her. Beneath her Gomez breathed steadily, unconcsious and unaware. She tried to focus on the rising and falling of his lungs, but each lash ripped her back into reality.

Heat burned her skin. It was as if she had been thrown into a pit of fire. There was no relief. Again he beat her and again until she was barely conscious, squinting through the darkness that was rapidly closing in. A final lash cut deep into her flesh and with a howl she tumbled to the grass and her body surrendered. All that was left was blackness.


© 2015 J.A. Marquez


Author's Note

J.A. Marquez
Written on phone. Yes it's brief, but I felt this turning point needes it's own chapter.

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Added on April 7, 2015
Last Updated on April 9, 2015
Tags: dystopia, fiction, adventure, coming of age


Author

J.A. Marquez
J.A. Marquez

South Lake Tahoe, CA



About
If you want to know who I am, read my stories. Many are works in progress, and many are just a few sentences, but each one is a piece of my soul. more..

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Unbroken Unbroken

A Story by J.A. Marquez





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