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The Woman Who Was Not Married

Once there was a woman who was not married. Yet she prayed daily to the gods to send her a child. And one day she found her belly had begun to swell. She felt the power from the child within her, and she thrilled in it.

She began to make plans for that power, for how she would use it to shape her childís and her own future, how they would find ways of power to influence other humans. And the child grew daily within her.

Now, because she had never been with child before, she did not know that this swelling was too sudden to be natural. She did not question it. She simply fell in love with the child she believed grew inside her.

Nor she did she put her hand to her belly and try to feel the beat of the new heartbeat in her child. If she had, she would have known that there was no new heartbeat, only her own. And that the power, wherever it came from, did not belong to a child.

In perhaps a monthís time, the womanís belly was so swollen that she knew her time for delivery must be near. She secluded herself, brought in enough food and water to last some time, and fell deep into herself. She closed her eyes, and though she did not sleep, she was in a trance with the magic in her belly that was very like sleep.

And yet, the magic did not emerge in the shape of a child. It did not emerge at all. It grew more and more.

At last, the woman began to wonder at it. It was twice as large as any woman she had seen carrying twins now. She could hardly see past the height of her belly, and she could certainly not move.

She was trapped. Though she had brought some food and water for her confinement, it was already running out, and there was no way for her to get more. She tried to cry out, but she had always lived alone and had not sought out the company of others. It would be a random passerby indeed who happened upon her at this time, and no telling if she was heard, that they would come to aid her.

Or what, if they wished to help her, they would do.

So she put her hands to her belly and tried to push the magic out of her. It had few places that were not tight against her skin, and she learned quickly that she caused more pain to herself than to the magic. She had soon great purple bruises marking all over both sides of her belly. And the magic was still growing larger.

At last she prayed, but there was no help for her. The gods would not save one who had been given what she asked for.

The woman tried one last thing. She sought to take the magic into herself in some more natural way. Could she use it to make herself into an elephant? Would that take enough of it away?

But the woman only found herself an elephant with a large belly full of magic.

At last, she decided she would rather be a woman than an elephant, even if that meant she would die.

She turned back into herself, and found that her belly had outstripped the rest of her body in size. She groaned at the stress it placed on her skin. Each moment seemed an added impossibility.

She wished that she would simply explode from the pressure of the magic, but it did not happen. She grew and grew again. Her skin split open so that she could see blood pouring from it, but the ruptures only got worse rather than better.

And then, at last, she found herself floating up to the sky. The power of the magic lifted her high, and took her past the clouds of the earth, into the darkness of space. She pulled herself as close to the earth as she could, and each night she reappears, the magic in her belly as big and bright as it was for our fatherís fatherís, when first the woman with child rose into the sky.

Some say she grows still, others that she shrinks and will one day find release. But if you look closely, you may see the outline of her face, as she calls out to those below her for wisdom and prudence.

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Copyright Mette Ivie Harrison 2007 all rights reserved.
Last revised December 24, 2007.