What Has Gone Before...
                           By Suzi

Part 1

Chumani [choo-mah-nee] stood and lifted the heavy waterskins in her arms.  She smiled at the children playing at the creek's edge before turning in the direction of the village.

As she walked, her mind once again drifted to Tokala [too-kah-lah].  The couple so desperately wanted a child.  Although they had only been married for six moons, Chumani was sure it wouldn't be long before she was with child.  The sound of screaming snapped Chumani from her thoughts.  She dropped the waterskins and ran toward the village.

 "Breathe Mani," Kimimela [kim-mee-meh-lah] said to Chumani, gripping her hand.  Chumani struggled to comply as the pain tore it's way across her abdomen.

She closed her eyes against the pain, but instead of easing her torment, it brought on another kind.  Images of the battle flashed in Chumani's mind.  The death....the fear....the pain and heartache.  She again saw Tokala in her arms, dead from a gunshot to the chest.  She felt the rough hands of the white men as they dragged her kicking and screaming from him.

"That's it Mani....good," Kimimela said encouragingly.

Chumani breathed easier as the pain subsided.  But almost immediately it returned, and with it a warm gush of water.

"It's time," Kimimela said helping Chumani into a squatting position.

"Push, Mani," Kimimela instructed.

Chumani bore down with all of her strength.  As she did so the image of the white man returned.  His leering face...his evil smile and harsh words.  His eyes......the bright emerald green eyes, full of hate and pleasure at hurting her.

Chumani felt the baby come in a warm gush of birth blood.

"Stop pushing," Kimimela said, taking the newborn and tying off the umbilical cord.  Kimimela bit it off just above the tie and turning the child over, thumped it's feet until a loud squall filled the tent.

"A girl!" Kimimela exclaimed, wrapping the child in soft rabbit skins and handing her to her mother.

Chumani smiled as she accepted her daughter.  She had been so happy to discover she was with child soon after Tokala had left for the spirit world.  She was proud of the fact that his spirit would live on in their child and be the first to bring life back to the village after so many had died.

The baby nuzzled against her mother's chest looking for the comfort and nourishment of her mother's breast.  Chumani helped her and smiled as she gazed upon her daughter.

But the smile turned into an expression of shock as the child opened her eyes and gazed back at her mother.  Chumani stared dumbfounded into eyes a shade of brilliant emerald green.

"No..." she whispered.

But the horror and revulsion she felt quickly melted away as she looked upon the heavenly face of the tiny creature she held.
Suddenly, she heard Tokala's spirit whisper to her.

 "A new beginning" it said.

 Chumani's smiled as she gently touched the cheek of the suckling infant.

 "Yes" she replied smiling.   It suddenly didn't matter who the child's father was.  Out of the ashes hope was born.

 "You shall be called Wenona.....first born daughter" chumani said softly.

Part 2

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