by Stuart Nager, 8/4/20 ©
Macha opened eyes that were not hers.
She found herself walking. Surrounded by a small grouping of Cailes, eight in number. All were of strange dress, some masked, others showing painted skin, akin to animals she had only heard of. They chattered, giggled, hugged one another, ran, and chased. Five were on the verge of womanhood; three already had crossed that threshold. The body she wore was one of those three.
Yelling far ahead startled her, but for a moment, for it quickly turned to wild laughter. Macha the Virago, a warrior woman of deed, wife of dead king Nemed, held tight. These were the young of this land. These were not the noise of battle, cries of the Formorians advancing on her people with slaughter on their lips. This was not the call of her people to fight. They were not the sounds of their death throes. Those sounds invaded the soul and heart of the Caile she rode. As was her death. Macha was on the last of three intonations when the Formor sent a spear through her breast. Her body lay on bloodied dirt as the last word touched her lips.
Her breath, her heart, her body; nothing overtly stirred as her insides tugged at the container that she had invaded. A soft hand was placed on her shoulder. Looking over, this was a raven-haired Caile, whose eyes took her in. She spoke, whispered a name-twice-as Macha realized that was this Calile’s name.
“Dana,” she paused. “Dana!” Their eyes met. “Are you ok? You just stopped. Dana. Hey. Knock knock. Hello? You were the one who wanted to go trick or treating. Hey, are you ok?”
Macha caught every speeding word that…Ali. Ali churned out. Dana/Macha nodded her head. Her answer-Dana’s answer-staggered out of their shared mouth.
“I am. I’m. I’m fine, Ali.” Macha added a smile to Dana’s face. Ali’s face relaxed at hearing this, and her bunched in shoulders opened.
Macha winced as Ali threw her arms around her torso, pinning her arms. Her hands clawed in response, an intonation traveled from mind to lips. It stopped there, claws became hands, and Dana accepted the hug. She returned it.
“Hey. Go find a room,” the tall redhead called out as she walked towards the two. Jill. “C’mon. Halloween is here, babe. Let’s get some of the goodies!”
The word meant nothing to Macha as Jill and Ali linked arms with her, dragging her along. The three caught up with the others. Halloween. Dana was no help here as she was eating something delightful.
Macha looked up at the darkening skies as Dana chewed. She continued to be swept along from door to door, filling up the bag Dana had brought with her. As night truly arrived, all the girls started singing, walking to Jill’s house for the night. Dana didn’t know the words to a monster mash, so she stayed back a few steps from the others. Ali remained at her side, singing.
Macha took another look up to the stars. Her eyes twinkled. The smile on Dana was Macha’s. Ali took Dana’s hands, dancing around in a circle. They both would up laughing on the lawn outside of Jill’s home. Dana, then Ali, laid prone, heads almost touching, and stared at the stars.
Dana pointed to a group of stars that were still on the rise.
“The Seven Sisters.”
“There. There, Ali, look. At the highest point. The grouping of stars. The Seven Sisters!”
Ali looked to where her best friend pointed, but couldn’t tell one star from another. She was just glad that Dana sounded like Dana again. Ali rolled over onto her side so she could look at Dana.
Macha didn’t notice. The Seven Sisters held her in their embrace.
“Samhain. All hallows eve. The dead shall rise. Halloween.”
Ali was asleep beside her. Macha shed tears, finding herself at the center of her life, in a world she would have to learn.
What better time of year to awaken. Macha the Virago: warrior woman; attle fury; The Phantom Queen. Macha died but has returned.
Woe to the ancestors of the Formorians.
Macha has returned.