Prism & Pen
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Prism & Pen

Star — Boys, Women, and Familiars

A tale of magic and spirits

Photo by Tavis Beck on Unsplash

The sun scalds my skin as sweat trickles down my back under my loose shirt to soak into the waistband of my trousers. The people all around us shuffle and fret as we wait for the ceremony to begin.

Beside me, Ocean’s fingertips pluck at the bodice of her long flowing dress, holding it away from herself to allow air to flow beneath the fabric. Despite her obvious discomfort, however, she is very clearly excited, bouncing up on her toes every few seconds to try to see over the crowd.

Today is her day. I don’t begrudge her that. I just feel… overlooked. I’ve never minded sharing our birth day — after all, we shared a womb — but this year is different. Today, Ocean becomes a woman and will be bonded to a familiar, and I… won’t. Today, I will stand in the background while she is celebrated.

Next year will be for me.

Next year I will stand before the elders and swear to protect those who are weaker, and they will anoint me and bestow upon me the title of “man.” I know I should anticipate this with pride and joy, but something in me dreads that day. I can’t imagine myself a man. While the other boys in the village look forward to their coming of age with anticipation, I’ve never felt strong enough for such an honour. I wish I could join my sister today — but that’s impossible.

As the sun creeps toward its zenith, the village leaders emerge from the longhouse, and everyone else steps back, creating an empty circle around them. Lifting her hands toward the sky, First Mother Cloud tips her wrinkled and weathered face toward the sun and begins to chant while First Father Flint bows his head behind her. Ocean reaches out and grabs my hand, squeezes it, then walks out into the middle of the circle with the other two girls who come of age today.

A dark cloud materializes out of the clear sky and grows to block the sun, eliciting a sigh of relief that ripples across the crowd. A breeze kicks dust into a swirling cyclone that blocks the three girls from view. A tendril of eddying dust wraps itself around me as well, cutting off my view of everyone.

A warmth gently probes at the base of my skull, spreading outward into tingling all along my arms and down my spine. What in the all the names of Ylene is happening to me? I’ve witnessed multiple familiar ceremonies, and never has anything like this ever occurred.

The warm spot settles into my brain, stretching and curling like it’s getting comfortable. Then it speaks to me. Not aloud, but I clearly perceive a name: Misty. A soft, furry body leaps into my arms and I look down as the swirling dust dissipates. I am caught in golden eyes nestled in coppery fur, enfolded in unconditional love, known completely inside and out for the first time.

A gasp beside me spreads into whispers and murmurs around the circle. Bits and pieces of shocked comments reach my ears: “Is that a boy?” “Isn’t that River’s son Star?” “Does that boy have a familiar?”

A hand touches my shoulder and I look up into Ocean’s eyes. A bird on her shoulder tips its head to one side, studying me with shiny black eyes. Then it ruffles its lustrous black feathers and rubs its head against her ear. Ocean smiles, her eyes damp. “Moon says she is pleased to meet my sister.” Ocean’s voice breaks on the last word, and she lifts a hand to stroke Moon’s glossy wing with trembling fingers.

Confused, I open my mouth, but I can’t find any words — and then something deep within me clicks into place. I look down into Misty’s golden eyes and know this was meant to be.

I am a woman.




Amplifying LGBTQ voices through the art of storytelling

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Esther Spurrill-Jones

Esther Spurrill-Jones

Poet, lover, thinker, human.

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