* * * * *
The warrior shoots another glance at me. This time, he doesn’t look away. If his aim with a weapon is as pointed, as determined, he will return undefeated. This ceremony is his, but as the night slips along, with each glance, he seems to make it more about me.
His skin is the darkest of my generation, several shades darker than babies born this season. Our sun dissolves into the indigo sky more each day. Sky of periwinkle when I was a child. Now indigo, soon to black. What color will our babies’ skin be when our sun has abandoned us? Will we lighten into nothingness?
He coasts through the crowd without breaking our gaze. He stops in front of me. The celebration around us muffles, like a giant has clamped a shell over the two of us.
He touches my shoulder. “Ing-nikg-ah.” His name, a name my tongue could never pronounce.
I touch his shoulder. “Shee-ylan-bsh.” My name, as foreign to his tongue as his name is to mine. Sounds only heard among women. Unknown to men as his language is unknown to me.
Bodies silhouetted against flame dance in his dark eyes. His skin shows through the symbol of protection carved into the fuzz on his cheeks, the hair on his newly shaved head. The symbol inked on his arms and down his back hours ago. Inked on my belly the day I became a woman.
He trails his fingers across my collarbone, then along my shoulders as he walks around me. His touch on my skin is hotter than the embers from the fire, tracing an invisible rope. A snare. He wants me on his last night here.
When he returns to his position facing me, he lowers his hand. He smiles. He waits. I wish I could say his name, vocalize a response his ears would understand. The only language between man and woman is that of the body.
My outstretched fingers give him my answer.