Photo Set

catagator:

If you’re looking for a way to do something for the people and community of Ferguson, perhaps write a check to their library. 

The address is to the library, this information is from their director, and they don’t have a way to accept anything other than a check at the moment.

We’ve seen what a sanctuary the library has become.

(via justinaireland)

Source: catagator
Photo Set

mashable:

A new study suggests fathers may have an easier time requesting work-life balance than mothers. The finding is an exasperating twist in the debate about how to best support women who want both a flourishing career and family.

Learn more about the study here.

well that’s depressing

(via justinaireland)

Source: Mashable
Photo

lydiaykang:

AUTHORS FOR CCHS! Donate for a great cause and snag some awesome stuff from your favorite YA and kidlit authors!

Over 50 YA and Kidlit Authors are donating:

  • Books
  • Swag
  • Skype visits
  • Query crits
  • Fiction crits
  • Future character names (Your name in the next book!)

…All to benefit kids with Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS). Children with CCHS have to fight for every breath they take. Featured in Lydia Kang’s YA novel, CONTROL, CCHS is more than just obstacle in a book. Kids with CCHS need research dollars and help to battle this lifelong syndrome. Please give to the cause, and receive gifts generously donated by some of your favorite authors! 

Karen AkinsRachele AlpineLisa AmowitzVivi BarnesSarah BromleyLiz ColeyRobin ConstantineElle CosimanoElisabeth DahlSkylar DorsetPeggy EddlemanChristina FarleySarah FineKelly FioreDahlia AdlerAmy GarveyJulia GibsonMaurene GooI.W. GregorioKit GrindstaffBethany HagenPolly HolyokeJessie HumphriesJustina IrelandElana JohnsonLydia KangKate Karyus QuinnAmie Kaufman and Jay KristoffLeighAnn KopansTonya KuperMelissa LandersSarah B. LarsonLori LeeJen MaloneMindy McGinnisJenn McGowanMegan MirandaE.C. MyersEric Myers (agent)Amy NicholsAmy Christine ParkerEmma PassKelly PolarkSara PolskyLissa PriceKristin RaeJulie ReeceBeth RevisLindsay RibarDianne SalerniHeidi SchulzEve SilverJessica SpotswoodCristin TerrillApril TucholkeJennifer WalkupA.B. WestrickTamera Will WissingerSusanne Winnacker

Please spread the word! Awareness if half the battle!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER FUNDRAISER!

A signed copy of Landry Park is in here!  Come check it out!

Source: lydiaykang
Link

12 things white people can do now because Ferguson

Quote

"Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others. Black America ever lives under that skeptical eye."

Source: elloellenoh
Photo
hanginggardenstories:

FOURTEENTH, by Natalie C. Parker
The stone is warm beneath her toes. It was not so when she first entered this place some hours ago, but the farther she traveled, the longer she survived, the warmer the stone grew. As though the monster living in the center of the labyrinth radiates like the sun. She expects it will soon burn the soles of her feet.
Now, the walls of the labyrinth fan open before her and she pauses, fingers gripping the corners, reluctant to leave the shelter of small spaces. There is no blood splashed across walls here. No ancient snapped bones picked clean and discarded. No tattered white dresses and pants laying flat and still over stone. None of the others made it this far. Perhaps ever, but certainly none of the thirteen who accompanied her today.
She was taken from the end of fourth period chemistry. Someone called her name and then it was silence and light and the sluggish sensation of being conscious yet not awake. And when consciousness returned, it did so bearing thirteen strangers. Seven boys and six other girls, each as resentful and confused as she.
There were no greetings or introductions. They lived and died as strangers. Nameless because the horror of realizing they’d been chosen as sacrifices reduced them in an instant to instincts and reactions. Three boys and one girl had charged ahead, battle cries echoing through the narrow halls; one boy pressed his back into a corner and dissolved into tears; two girls, trembling and desperate, reached for each other, and kissed with eyes closed; and the rest of them fell silent picking their way down the only path the labyrinth had to offer. She moved with them, neither at the front nor the rear, but if comfort could be found in such a situation, she found it in the center.
One by one she heard their screams as the monster devoured his tributes. He hunted ahead of her and behind, it didn’t matter that there was only one snaking path winding its way to the center. The monster moved through the walls or through the floors or perhaps he traveled above. She never saw him. Instead, she twisted her trembling fists in the flimsy skirt of her white dress and counted screams until she reached thirteen.
There had been nothing to say, but now she thought perhaps she should have asked for their names so that she would have something to scream when the monster finally came for her.
She hadn’t expected to be last. She hadn’t wanted to be last. But she is and a wicked sort of ferocity beats with her heart. Of course she is the last. Of course she is the one who has made it all the way to the center.
The room before her now is perfectly round, its walls as smooth as silence. In the middle stands a ring of statues carved of white rock, each facing inward. The light which seems to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once casts no shadows, and the labyrinth is empty of screams and blows and feet smacking stone.
It is so quiet.
Hours ago, this emptiness would have held her back, too hounded by fear to continue forward. Would she be next? Would a scream be the last thing she left to this world? Would it hurt? But now the same emptiness spurs her forward. She finds new courage in the certainty of being the last sacrifice. Yes, she is next. And yes, it will hurt.
Beneath her feet, the stone begins to burn. She relishes the shivers of pain sliding up her legs and back, and crosses the room to stand in the very center of the circle of statues.
A ring of formidable faces stare at her with pain or defeat in the twist of their features. They tell the story of the monster, she realizes. In the first statue, he stands as a man — smaller than the rest of the figures, only a few inches taller than her, with passion in the curl of his fists and focus in the pinch of his eyes.
In the next he is something less than human. Or something more. He’s grown broad, his forehead wide and flat, his fists clenched more tightly. In the next, his nose is long with nostrils flared over a grimace. In the next, horns begin to curve away from his head. In the next, his transformation is complete: his head bows beneath its own severe weight, his shoulders hunch with new muscle, but the pinch of his eyes is much the same – focused and terrible.
It is this last one which holds her gaze. Here is the minotaur, cold and hard as stone, so lost to humanity that he must consume young men and women for satisfaction. This shape was supposed to be a curse, but the more she looks into its eyes, the more she thinks perhaps it is something else. She places one hand over his chest where his heart would be. The stone is cool beneath her fingers, but a puff of breath from those wide nostrils spills over her wrist.
Not a statue, but the living, breathing heart of this labyrinth.
She should run. She is the last. But she does not move.
The creature who once was a man catches her slender wrists in his thick hands and bellows. This is his promise: you will die.
The girl who isn’t so much anymore twists her slender wrists away from his thick hands and roars. This is her answer: I was always going to die.
The girl thinks the minotaur would smile if he could, and – still smiling – he grips her hand and drives it into his chest. Together, their fingers break the shell of his breast and sink between thin layers of muscle to the pulsing fist of his heart. It is not so easy to pluck a heart from a chest, but the minotaur’s fingers are practiced and with a violent lurch the heart is severed.
She shudders.
When a monster offers his heart, you must take it. This is the human thing to do.
She leans in and bites into his heart. It is tart as wild berries, tough as game, and hot as the stone beneath her feet. She takes another bite and another until all that remains is a trail of blood down her white dress and the minotaur’s empty hand.
Then, standing in the center of the labyrinth, every wild part of her satisfied, her fingers curl and her shoulders hunch and her head grows heavy with horns.

hanginggardenstories:

FOURTEENTH, by Natalie C. Parker

The stone is warm beneath her toes. It was not so when she first entered this place some hours ago, but the farther she traveled, the longer she survived, the warmer the stone grew. As though the monster living in the center of the labyrinth radiates like the sun. She expects it will soon burn the soles of her feet.

Now, the walls of the labyrinth fan open before her and she pauses, fingers gripping the corners, reluctant to leave the shelter of small spaces. There is no blood splashed across walls here. No ancient snapped bones picked clean and discarded. No tattered white dresses and pants laying flat and still over stone. None of the others made it this far. Perhaps ever, but certainly none of the thirteen who accompanied her today.

She was taken from the end of fourth period chemistry. Someone called her name and then it was silence and light and the sluggish sensation of being conscious yet not awake. And when consciousness returned, it did so bearing thirteen strangers. Seven boys and six other girls, each as resentful and confused as she.

There were no greetings or introductions. They lived and died as strangers. Nameless because the horror of realizing they’d been chosen as sacrifices reduced them in an instant to instincts and reactions. Three boys and one girl had charged ahead, battle cries echoing through the narrow halls; one boy pressed his back into a corner and dissolved into tears; two girls, trembling and desperate, reached for each other, and kissed with eyes closed; and the rest of them fell silent picking their way down the only path the labyrinth had to offer. She moved with them, neither at the front nor the rear, but if comfort could be found in such a situation, she found it in the center.

One by one she heard their screams as the monster devoured his tributes. He hunted ahead of her and behind, it didn’t matter that there was only one snaking path winding its way to the center. The monster moved through the walls or through the floors or perhaps he traveled above. She never saw him. Instead, she twisted her trembling fists in the flimsy skirt of her white dress and counted screams until she reached thirteen.

There had been nothing to say, but now she thought perhaps she should have asked for their names so that she would have something to scream when the monster finally came for her.

She hadn’t expected to be last. She hadn’t wanted to be last. But she is and a wicked sort of ferocity beats with her heart. Of course she is the last. Of course she is the one who has made it all the way to the center.

The room before her now is perfectly round, its walls as smooth as silence. In the middle stands a ring of statues carved of white rock, each facing inward. The light which seems to come from nowhere and everywhere all at once casts no shadows, and the labyrinth is empty of screams and blows and feet smacking stone.

It is so quiet.

Hours ago, this emptiness would have held her back, too hounded by fear to continue forward. Would she be next? Would a scream be the last thing she left to this world? Would it hurt? But now the same emptiness spurs her forward. She finds new courage in the certainty of being the last sacrifice. Yes, she is next. And yes, it will hurt.

Beneath her feet, the stone begins to burn. She relishes the shivers of pain sliding up her legs and back, and crosses the room to stand in the very center of the circle of statues.

A ring of formidable faces stare at her with pain or defeat in the twist of their features. They tell the story of the monster, she realizes. In the first statue, he stands as a man — smaller than the rest of the figures, only a few inches taller than her, with passion in the curl of his fists and focus in the pinch of his eyes.

In the next he is something less than human. Or something more. He’s grown broad, his forehead wide and flat, his fists clenched more tightly. In the next, his nose is long with nostrils flared over a grimace. In the next, horns begin to curve away from his head. In the next, his transformation is complete: his head bows beneath its own severe weight, his shoulders hunch with new muscle, but the pinch of his eyes is much the same – focused and terrible.

It is this last one which holds her gaze. Here is the minotaur, cold and hard as stone, so lost to humanity that he must consume young men and women for satisfaction. This shape was supposed to be a curse, but the more she looks into its eyes, the more she thinks perhaps it is something else. She places one hand over his chest where his heart would be. The stone is cool beneath her fingers, but a puff of breath from those wide nostrils spills over her wrist.

Not a statue, but the living, breathing heart of this labyrinth.

She should run. She is the last. But she does not move.

The creature who once was a man catches her slender wrists in his thick hands and bellows. This is his promise: you will die.

The girl who isn’t so much anymore twists her slender wrists away from his thick hands and roars. This is her answer: I was always going to die.

The girl thinks the minotaur would smile if he could, and – still smiling – he grips her hand and drives it into his chest. Together, their fingers break the shell of his breast and sink between thin layers of muscle to the pulsing fist of his heart. It is not so easy to pluck a heart from a chest, but the minotaur’s fingers are practiced and with a violent lurch the heart is severed.

She shudders.

When a monster offers his heart, you must take it. This is the human thing to do.

She leans in and bites into his heart. It is tart as wild berries, tough as game, and hot as the stone beneath her feet. She takes another bite and another until all that remains is a trail of blood down her white dress and the minotaur’s empty hand.

Then, standing in the center of the labyrinth, every wild part of her satisfied, her fingers curl and her shoulders hunch and her head grows heavy with horns.

Source: hanginggardenstories
Video

carry-on-my-otp:

Thank you for wearing a white t-shirt, Tom, and thank you for nominating Benedict Cumberbatch and Luke Evans

Oh dear.  Let me get you out of those wet clothes.

Source: carry-on-my-otp
Quote

"I’d like to counter that diversity in children’s media—and in young adult fantasy—is important because it’s for kids. Children and teens know that books aren’t real, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t also internalizing the messages. When diverse peoples and cultures aren’t a part of these fantasy worlds, young readers are being repeatedly told that they can’t have adventures like the characters because they don’t look the part, that they are less important than imaginary creatures. They’re being repeatedly told that their exclusion is the norm."

-

from More Elves of Color! Why Diversity in YA Fantasy Matters by Lori M. Lee (via bookriot)

Please read the whole post. It’s important.

(via elloellenoh)

(via elloellenoh)

Source: bookriot
Photo

myjetpack:

My book of cartoons ‘You’re All Just Jealous of my Jetpack’ is available now:
US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1770461043
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1770461043
Other stockists and info at www.tomgauld.com

(via fourteenery)

Source: myjetpack
Photo
hanginggardenstories:

Betrayal
            
When King Hardik rescued his love from the clutches of a brutal warlord and brought her home on the back of a red elephant, he had been strong and sure. Doubt had not yet crawled into the creases of his mouth. All he could see were Utpalini’s eyes, as full of diamonds as they’d been the day he’d lost her.
            “You were not harmed?” he asked her many times, as though she’d open up like a river and tell him all her woes.
            “I was not touched by any man,” she replied with a soft smile.
            “And you never gave him your heart?”
            She twisted in the saddle and pressed her palm against his chest. “It’s been with you.”
            He reached down and kissed the top of her head. He had her now, safe in his arms, and he’d never let anything happen to her again.
            
The city cheered when they rode through the gates. Women tossed colored mukhwas that sprinkled in Utpalini’s hair and dotted the king’s shoulders in candied confetti. Children ran along beside the elephant, singing about Utpalini’s great beauty. She smiled down at them, glad to be back with her people. But amongst all the jubilation and fanfare, a single ball of spit slapped Utpalini on her cheek. She wiped it quickly away, but not before Hardik noticed and furrowed his brows. The songs, the fragrant petals, and the cries of happiness faded like chalk pictures in the rain. At last, they reached the palace, and Hardik ordered the elephant down.
While the palace prepared for a celebration, Hardik would not let go of Utpalini’s hand. They hid in the recesses of the garden, twisted together like vines until the banquet began.
“Queen Utpalini, we welcome you home,” the King’s mother, Geeta, said with a bow. She had not been in the streets, and Hardik was grateful she had not seen the spit on his wife’s cheek. Uptalini smiled in return and settled before the banquet table, silent and wide-eyed. “I have been told,” Geeta continued with narrowed eyes, “That you were held separate from the warlord’s court, alone but for the warlord himself?”
            Uptalini frowned. “I was never alone.”
            Geeta tapped her fingers against her lips and nodded. “I see.”
            Hardik was about to say something to defend Utpalini, but the musicians began thumping on their drums just then, and the long line of dancers entered the hall. The women wore saris of gold and red, and the men leaped in the air, chests bare and glistening as they swung around the throng of women.  
            Hardik eyed Uptalini. She watched with a wide smile, but her chin dimpled as it did when she was trying not to cry. At last, the dancers left, the music faded away, and the people were allowed to eat.
            Uptalini did not eat. She stirred her rice and pushed the bowl of paneer away. Geeta clicked her tongue in distaste, and began once more to ask too many questions.
            “Mother, she is home and that is all I care about,” Hardik said.
            “Is it? Do you not worry what the people in this city will think? Do you not wonder what happened in that fortress? How did she manage to survive a whole year unscathed? If not her body, then what did she offer the warlord in exchange for keeping her beauty and health?”
            Uptalini set her hands on her lap before turning to Geeta. “I have returned with a clear conscience. I have done nothing that would cause me to be harshly judged in the eyes of the gods.”
            One of the men to Hardik’s right leaned forward with pursed lips. “Forgive me, King Hardik, but there is much talk about this amongst the people. They wonder, naturally, how you could swallow such a pill as this, taking back a wife who has been living with another man.”
            Hardik felt his body ignite. His wife had been home less than a day, and already they were judging her. “She was not living with another man. She was imprisoned in a madman’s fortress. Forty-three of my soldiers died in battle today while we fought off her captors. My wife stayed true.”
            “So she says,” the man continued. “But how are we to believe the word of a woman gone from us one full year?”
            The mutterings continued until they were as thick as the summer air. Hardik fumed and stared at those who dared to question his trust until he took one glance at Uptalini and saw she’d sunken into herself.
            “It should be enough that I am here, that I am alive, and that I love you,” Uptalini said to him. Then she stood and faced the assembly. “If you do not believe me, then believe your king. He knows my true heart, and he believes in me.”
            Then Geeta, who had been quietly watching the discussion, set down her tea with a heavy clink of enameled brass. She stood up to join Uptalini. “I am afraid, my daughter, that the people need more than the trust of a besotted king. They demand proof of your innocence.”
            Uptalini opened her mouth and shut it once more.
            “How could she possibly prove any such thing?” Hardik asked.
            The man beside him cleared his throat and waited for silence. “There is a way that will both prove her chastity as well as purify her soul should be not be innocent.”
            When he explained what it was Uptalini must do, Hardik’s stomach swirled in nausea. He believed her, so she would come to no harm. But they were asking much of her.
The sun had set when the crowd gathered, their faces lit by the reddish glow of charcoal and ember. The burning coals reflected the blood-lust in the eyes of all but Hardik and Uptalini.
            The servants removed her slippers and guided her to the start of the flaming path, where Hardik stood with a vice around his heart.
            “I wish you did not have to do this,” he said. He knew he sounded weak, but the people had forced his hand. There was nothing he could do. The people had demanded that Uptalini walk barefoot on the path of burning coals. If she was indeed chaste, the gods would save her. If she was not, then she’d erupt in flames. All she had to do was walk with a pure mind, and everything would be perfect again. Hardik reached out and squeezed her arm for reassurance.
            Uptalini wiped a tear, forced a smile, and lifted her chin. “Then tell them you will not force me to walk across these coals.”
            Hardik’s breath caught in his throat. Why was she not willing to walk? Was she trying to prevent herself from catching fire?
            No, of course not. She would never have lied to him. Nevertheless, he had to prove to the unbelievers that she was loyal.
            “I don’t think there’s anything I can do to make them believe you,” he said.
            She nodded and took a step. Her bare toes reached forward and came to rest on a bright orange clump of coals. When there was no scream, no backward jump, no flash of fire, Hardik began to breath again. She had been telling him the truth.
            Uptalini took another step, and she was out on the burning path. Quickly but surely, she walked ten more steps until she came to rest on the soft, green grass.
            The crowd was frozen in silent awe, but Uptalini did not give them a moment to cry out in relief and support. She turned on her heels and faced her husband.
            “I walked across those coals not to prove my words, but to show that I could not longer trust you.”
            Hardik blinked. What did she mean? Of course she could trust him. He loved her.
            Uptalini walked back to the edge of the coals. “It does not matter any more that I was chaste, or that I returned home with my self intact. It does not matter because you have pulled me apart with this one small strip of fire.”
            Then she dove into the coals, and this time, she was not saved by the gods.
            Hardik jumped into the fire and pulled her out, then dragged her to the lotus pond. Quickly, he crawled into the water with her in his arms and stayed there until he fell asleep on his feet.
            
The pond’s surface was elastic, so he could not push through it. As soft as it was, it stung his skin and the shock of it swept up his nerves to the place where she stayed in his memory, always defiant, always broken.
            He had doused her with water, but he had been too late.
.
.
.
.
(This story was based on the tale of Sita.) 

hanginggardenstories:

Betrayal

           

When King Hardik rescued his love from the clutches of a brutal warlord and brought her home on the back of a red elephant, he had been strong and sure. Doubt had not yet crawled into the creases of his mouth. All he could see were Utpalini’s eyes, as full of diamonds as they’d been the day he’d lost her.

            “You were not harmed?” he asked her many times, as though she’d open up like a river and tell him all her woes.

            “I was not touched by any man,” she replied with a soft smile.

            “And you never gave him your heart?”

            She twisted in the saddle and pressed her palm against his chest. “It’s been with you.”

            He reached down and kissed the top of her head. He had her now, safe in his arms, and he’d never let anything happen to her again.

           

The city cheered when they rode through the gates. Women tossed colored mukhwas that sprinkled in Utpalini’s hair and dotted the king’s shoulders in candied confetti. Children ran along beside the elephant, singing about Utpalini’s great beauty. She smiled down at them, glad to be back with her people. But amongst all the jubilation and fanfare, a single ball of spit slapped Utpalini on her cheek. She wiped it quickly away, but not before Hardik noticed and furrowed his brows. The songs, the fragrant petals, and the cries of happiness faded like chalk pictures in the rain. At last, they reached the palace, and Hardik ordered the elephant down.

While the palace prepared for a celebration, Hardik would not let go of Utpalini’s hand. They hid in the recesses of the garden, twisted together like vines until the banquet began.

“Queen Utpalini, we welcome you home,” the King’s mother, Geeta, said with a bow. She had not been in the streets, and Hardik was grateful she had not seen the spit on his wife’s cheek. Uptalini smiled in return and settled before the banquet table, silent and wide-eyed. “I have been told,” Geeta continued with narrowed eyes, “That you were held separate from the warlord’s court, alone but for the warlord himself?”

            Uptalini frowned. “I was never alone.”

            Geeta tapped her fingers against her lips and nodded. “I see.”

            Hardik was about to say something to defend Utpalini, but the musicians began thumping on their drums just then, and the long line of dancers entered the hall. The women wore saris of gold and red, and the men leaped in the air, chests bare and glistening as they swung around the throng of women. 

            Hardik eyed Uptalini. She watched with a wide smile, but her chin dimpled as it did when she was trying not to cry. At last, the dancers left, the music faded away, and the people were allowed to eat.

            Uptalini did not eat. She stirred her rice and pushed the bowl of paneer away. Geeta clicked her tongue in distaste, and began once more to ask too many questions.

            “Mother, she is home and that is all I care about,” Hardik said.

            “Is it? Do you not worry what the people in this city will think? Do you not wonder what happened in that fortress? How did she manage to survive a whole year unscathed? If not her body, then what did she offer the warlord in exchange for keeping her beauty and health?”

            Uptalini set her hands on her lap before turning to Geeta. “I have returned with a clear conscience. I have done nothing that would cause me to be harshly judged in the eyes of the gods.”

            One of the men to Hardik’s right leaned forward with pursed lips. “Forgive me, King Hardik, but there is much talk about this amongst the people. They wonder, naturally, how you could swallow such a pill as this, taking back a wife who has been living with another man.”

            Hardik felt his body ignite. His wife had been home less than a day, and already they were judging her. “She was not living with another man. She was imprisoned in a madman’s fortress. Forty-three of my soldiers died in battle today while we fought off her captors. My wife stayed true.”

            “So she says,” the man continued. “But how are we to believe the word of a woman gone from us one full year?”

            The mutterings continued until they were as thick as the summer air. Hardik fumed and stared at those who dared to question his trust until he took one glance at Uptalini and saw she’d sunken into herself.

            “It should be enough that I am here, that I am alive, and that I love you,” Uptalini said to him. Then she stood and faced the assembly. “If you do not believe me, then believe your king. He knows my true heart, and he believes in me.”

            Then Geeta, who had been quietly watching the discussion, set down her tea with a heavy clink of enameled brass. She stood up to join Uptalini. “I am afraid, my daughter, that the people need more than the trust of a besotted king. They demand proof of your innocence.”

            Uptalini opened her mouth and shut it once more.

            “How could she possibly prove any such thing?” Hardik asked.

            The man beside him cleared his throat and waited for silence. “There is a way that will both prove her chastity as well as purify her soul should be not be innocent.”

            When he explained what it was Uptalini must do, Hardik’s stomach swirled in nausea. He believed her, so she would come to no harm. But they were asking much of her.

The sun had set when the crowd gathered, their faces lit by the reddish glow of charcoal and ember. The burning coals reflected the blood-lust in the eyes of all but Hardik and Uptalini.

            The servants removed her slippers and guided her to the start of the flaming path, where Hardik stood with a vice around his heart.

            “I wish you did not have to do this,” he said. He knew he sounded weak, but the people had forced his hand. There was nothing he could do. The people had demanded that Uptalini walk barefoot on the path of burning coals. If she was indeed chaste, the gods would save her. If she was not, then she’d erupt in flames. All she had to do was walk with a pure mind, and everything would be perfect again. Hardik reached out and squeezed her arm for reassurance.

            Uptalini wiped a tear, forced a smile, and lifted her chin. “Then tell them you will not force me to walk across these coals.”

            Hardik’s breath caught in his throat. Why was she not willing to walk? Was she trying to prevent herself from catching fire?

            No, of course not. She would never have lied to him. Nevertheless, he had to prove to the unbelievers that she was loyal.

            “I don’t think there’s anything I can do to make them believe you,” he said.

            She nodded and took a step. Her bare toes reached forward and came to rest on a bright orange clump of coals. When there was no scream, no backward jump, no flash of fire, Hardik began to breath again. She had been telling him the truth.

            Uptalini took another step, and she was out on the burning path. Quickly but surely, she walked ten more steps until she came to rest on the soft, green grass.

            The crowd was frozen in silent awe, but Uptalini did not give them a moment to cry out in relief and support. She turned on her heels and faced her husband.

            “I walked across those coals not to prove my words, but to show that I could not longer trust you.”

            Hardik blinked. What did she mean? Of course she could trust him. He loved her.

            Uptalini walked back to the edge of the coals. “It does not matter any more that I was chaste, or that I returned home with my self intact. It does not matter because you have pulled me apart with this one small strip of fire.”

            Then she dove into the coals, and this time, she was not saved by the gods.

            Hardik jumped into the fire and pulled her out, then dragged her to the lotus pond. Quickly, he crawled into the water with her in his arms and stayed there until he fell asleep on his feet.

           

The pond’s surface was elastic, so he could not push through it. As soft as it was, it stung his skin and the shock of it swept up his nerves to the place where she stayed in his memory, always defiant, always broken.

            He had doused her with water, but he had been too late.

.

.

.

.

(This story was based on the tale of Sita.) 

(via ekjohnston)

Source: hanginggardenstories