I didn’t get quite as much accomplished this morning — but I expected that after the huge day yesterday. Details, details, they’re crucial for some of these sites we’re visiting. And the spelling! Ack! Q’umarkaj. Utatlan. Even Antigua (I always want to spell it with a q for some reason.) Luckily I’ve found several pictures that help me set the mood. I’ve been listening mostly to Apocalyptica and Evanescence on the play list. Especially “Bring Me to Life” and “I Don’t Care.”
Today so far: 1,390
Snippet: first draft only, subject to heavy revision later, still from the opening scene. Some real life experiences getting added here — That Man just started a timeshare sales position this year!
“How long have I been bugging you to take a vacation?” Natalie turned to me, grinning, but the concern in her eyes cut me to the quick. “You need this, Cass.”
I nodded and some of the shadows eased from her eyes. “It just seems like a fairytale.”
“You deserve a fairytale.” She tried to laugh, but we both knew how close I’d come to dying. She’d been the one to give me mouth to mouth until the paramedics arrived. We’d always been as close as sisters, but now I owed her my life, too. “Besides, whoever heard of a timeshare salesperson who never actually goes on vacation herself?”
Grateful that she returned to our long-standing banter instead of driving me to tears, I gave her a friendly shove. “The top salespeople never go on vacation, silly. We’re too busy making money selling other people their dream vacations.”
“Well, you’ve never sold a view like this.” She swept her hand toward the glistening lake and the hazy volcanoes in the distance. “This is pretty dreamy, Cass.”
I could only nod in agreement.
“Hey, you never finished your story, Jose. Why does the quetzal have a red breast?”
Thanks to Nana, I knew this part of the legend.
“Believing the horse Alvarado rode to be a part of a terrible man-beast, Tecun Uman beheaded the creature. Unharmed, Alvarado took the opportunity to stab the great warrior in the heart with his spear. As Tecum lay dying, his quetzal flew down to lie weeping on his breast until he drew his last breath. Ever since, the quetzal’s breast has been stained with Tecun’s blood as a reminder.”
“A reminder of what? The Spaniards’ cruelty?”
Jose turned to me with a peculiar look on his face, careful and reverent. “That someday, he will return.”
Uneasy, I jerked my gaze back to the lake. I didn’t know if I could ever see so much water and not remember. The sound of crashing metal on metal. Thick smoke on the air, the stench of gasoline. The screams. Our small pontoon had been broadsided by a party boat, more of a yacht than Lake Taneycomo could really support.
Bone-chilling cold water had closed over my head while fireworks exploded behind my eyes. Blood on the water. My blood. I knew I was dying. Darkness.
I thought near-death experiences were supposed to be tunnels of light and a blessed feeling of peace, but I’d seen an obsidian pyramid. A man had pulled me out of the water and lifted me to the sun blazing at the top. I remembered the feel of his big hands on my back, the heat of his body bringing my cold, dead limbs back to life, his mouth on mine as he gave me his breath. Long blue-green feathers had hung in my face along with his hair, as shiny and black as the pyramid.
Most of all, I remembered his voice whispering in my ear. Deep and rumbly, his voice had vibrated my bones. “You’re well-named, Cassandra, for you can bring light to my people. Help me return. Only you can bring me through the gate.”
Even now, that distinctive growling voice made my bones want to dissolve my body into a pile of goo.
Help me return.