Another messenger. From another village. With another monster they needed her to kill. And she didn’t have a fucking choice. Mariah stared into the camp fire, took a bite out of her lump of cheese.
The messenger was just a boy this time, smooth-faced, high-voiced. He sat off to her right and a little further from the fire.
“What’s my name, boy?”
“M’lady, it’s Mariah.”
“Yes. And I’m not a lady. I’m as low-born as you. I’ve goats for uncles. So stop calling me that.”
The boy sat silently again. He had a question burbling in his mind. She locked eyes with him and refused to supply it.
“Mariah how did—”
“By Demeter, you are a filthy child! I remember being that dirty. It’s disgusting to everyone but you because you’ve always been that way. You just think it’s normal for your crotch to itch all the time. It’s a special kind of filthy.”
He was silent again. The first few times she talked to him like this, she was treated to his tears, and she felt the curse push at her to stop, so she did. For a while. But then she did it again, mostly out of habit, and the boy didn’t cry, so the curse didn’t make her stop, and now insulting him entertained her.
“I could make you clean, you know? It would be the smallest thing, the tiniest bit of my vast, deadly powers!” The curse liked that, though. Yes it did. She resolved not to do it, but she already knew she didn’t have a choice. She whispered a few words to Poseidon, summoning a flood that would wash the child all the way back to his village. Instead, what she got was a tiny little rain cloud that showered him with warm water and left him smelling of the sea. It was the first time in his life the boy had ever been clean.
(C) Copyright, Orion Ussner Kidder 2017