Two Many Toes Finds a HusbandbyCheleste©
Two Many Toes looked out of great big wide brown eyes at the line of braves going off to the hunt.
Their bronze skin shone in the sunlight amid paint and feathers; their faces were fierce and their muscles taut as they held their weapons; and their feet danced in place, anxious to take them to the chase.
Two Many Toes thought they were all beautiful and strong, but the beautifulest and strongest was Two Streams Come Together.
His legs stood like pillars and his chest fanned out like a peacock, proud and broad.
She whispered to herself, "You are my husband," and giggled, and hid behind the tepee to watch him longer.
Then her sister came up with a bundle of food.
"Take this to Many Faces. Quickly now!" she ordered. Everyone in the village was stern and intent right now. They did not have time for the silly fantasies of a little girl.
So Two Many Toes took the bundle and raced toward the brave at the front of the line. She was a swift runner, and she raised her chin and ran as fast as she could, remembering Two Streams standing in the line.
Only, before she had run halfway, she tripped on a gray rock and went sprawling, sending the contents of the bundle rolling across the dusty brown prairie dirt.
When she realized she had fallen right in front of Two Streams, she hid her face in the dirt and wished it were possible he had not noticed.
But a gentle hand on her back and a kind voice asking if she was alright told her that he had not only noticed, but had come to see her humiliation up close.
Dragging her eyes up to look at his, she saw them smiling and twinkling at her, and she thought that, somehow, any amount of humiliation was worth a gaze like that from him, face to face.
Flustered, she hopped up, gathering her bundle and assuring him she was not hurt.
She delivered the bundle to Many Faces, and scampered away to the quiet place under the gorse bush, where she could reimagine, and examine, and cherish the look she had seen on his face, like one of the treasures she kept buried in a rabbit skin under the bush; and where she could study her bleeding knee and wash it with water from the muddy river, and hope it left a long scar to remember him by.
Later, when the braves had filed out of the village, she went back and found the gray rock, and dug it out of the dirt with her fingers. Then she took it to the quiet place, where she held it tight to her heart and asked the Great Spirit to watch over her beloved, and give him strength to kill many, and bring him home safe to her, before burying it in the rabbit skin.
* * * * He did return safely, though he was limping upon a bandaged foot. She heard he had lost a toe to a heavy hoof in the hunt.
Two Many Toes wished she had an extra toe to give him. If only her grandmother had been right when she named her at birth. But alas, she was feeble and half-blind, and joined Two Many Toes' mother in the Great Hunting Ground soon after that sad day.
She also noticed that the fall she had taken had left no scar whatever on her knee.
Two Streams Come Together did not seem to remember their fated meeting, and showed much greater interest in her older sister, Hair of a Raven.
He began to visit their tepee and take long walks with her at dusk, leaning on her arm for support, as he walked slowly on his wounded foot.
* * * * Two Many Toes smiled politely at the marriage ritual and behaved as her sister instructed, so that only one as close to her as Hair of a Raven detected and wondered at the sadness in her wide brown eyes.
Now, he was closer to watch, but further than ever to gain. She loved him as her brother, and did every favor she could think of for him. Everyone in the camp said what a good sister she was, and how loyal to Hair of a Raven.
And it was true. Though she ached for Two Streams Come Together to hold her in his arms, she could not hate Hair of a Raven. She loved her, and combed the length of her straight thick black hair over and over at night before retiring to her deerskin mat.
Deep in the night, she opened her eyes in the blackness, and heard them cooing and kissing and breathing as if they had just run a race. She heard his low voice, at once powerful and soothing, and pretended it was to her he spoke.
She saw them smile at one another with a special look when the sun rose on those mornings, and she wished she could smile like that.
* * * * Many summers came and left. The Elders looked askance at Two Many Toes, for all the girls her age were married now. But they said to themselves, "She is devoted to her sister. She will not leave her. It is so sad. Hair of a Raven has had no children. She has only her sister."
Two Many Toes prayed for Hair of a Raven. She asked the Great Spirit to send her a son.
She dreamt that night of a beautiful black raven, its feathers iridescent blue in the sunlight as it flew in circles, closer and closer to the sun. A feather dropped from one of its wings and floated down into Two Many Toes' cupped hand. Two Many Toes felt awed and grateful; and then a tear trickled down her cheek and fell into the stream below her.
She awoke in the dark, and thought carefully about the dream, but she did not understand it.
She heard her sister and Two Streams Come Together on their mat near her. She felt the rhythm of their movements and the swelling of their spirits. Hair of a Raven cried out like an eagle and Two Streams groaned loudly. Two Many Toes wondered at their intensity, but she knew somehow in some secret part of her that the noises they made were the noises of love.
Not long after that night, they smiled their special smile when they told her one afternoon by the river that Hair of a Raven was to have a little one.
Two Many Toes was glad, and gave thanks to the Great Spirit in the quiet place.
Hair of a Raven's belly grew round and heavy, and Two Many Toes had to help more and more with the work. She learned well, and it was often her face that Two Streams met at the end of the day, when she offered him supper from the boiling pot she had stewed to perfection. She brought warm bowls to Hair of a Raven, who lay upon her deerskin, overtired and pale, and hoped her time would come soon.
It came when snow was falling on the ground, and the Medicine Man said Hair of a Raven was like the snow - cold and white. The infant coughed and cried and shuddered, and Two Many Toes wrapped him in cloth and rabbit furs. But the blood would not stop, and Hair of a Raven turned whiter and colder still, until she had become one with the snow.
Two Streams Come Together held his son in his arms and gazed at his wife with a still, solemn face. Two tears fell upon his cheeks, and he leaned over and kissed her forehead.
Two Many Toes took the infant and fed him with goat milk. Her tears mingled with the milk, and she wished she could put him to her breast and suckle him herself.
She tried, one evening when firelight threw dancing shadows upon the sides of the tepee. She sat with the baby in her lap and pulled the sleeves of her skin dress off.
Putting the infant's soft cheek against her breast, she guided her nipple into his mouth. She winced and closed her eyes, willing milk to come into his mouth.
But she had just pulled the nipple out, disappointed and frustrated, when Two Streams Come Together entered the tepee.
She covered herself quickly, and blushed when he asked what she was doing. She refused to tell him, until he had pleaded and cajoled, and said he wouldn't laugh no matter what.
So she told him how much she loved Hair of a Raven, and Two Streams Come Together, and their baby. And how she wished she could feed the baby with milk from her own body, so he could grow healthy and strong and be a proud brave like his father. She told him of the day she had watched Two Streams Come Together go out to the hunt, and of the gray rock she had buried under the gorse bush.
Two Streams peered into her eyes as she spoke, and she saw the look she had wrapped up in the rabbit skin and buried that summer long ago.
He took the sleeping infant from her lap, who had satisfied himself with goat milk as she talked, and laid him on the deerskin mat.
Then he took her hand and pulled her close to him, and told her there was a medicine for her weeping heart - a strong medicine they both needed.
He kissed her mouth gently, closing his eyes and tasting her lips; then her cheeks and her neck. He let his breath out in a long, slow sigh, and Two Many Toes felt the sadness of his heart.
As he sucked lower on her chest, moving the opening of her dress aside, she swelled with her breath, opening to him, taking his sadness and offering it to the wind.
He found her nipple, and drew from it the satisfaction she hadn't been able to give his son. Two Streams sucked ardently, finding what he needed there, and Two Many Toes felt the nourishment flowing out of her and into him.
He fondled her other nipple while he sucked, drawing life out from the well deep in the core of her body.
She could feel the energy pooling like water in the depths of her secret cavern, then rising up in streams that wound through her limbs and up her spine. Her head felt a little dizzy, and she lost her balance, putting her foot back to catch herself.
So Two Streams led her to the deerskin mat then, and pulled her dress over her head. He lay her down, covering her naked body with a blanket, and pulling off his clothes. He knelt beside her and leaned over her, kissing her cheek and moving his hand over her bare breasts and belly.
His hand paused, rubbing her belly, and she felt the fullness of his desire for her pressing into her belly, deeper, deeper, into the hidden cave. She wanted him to plant his seed there, so her belly could grow round and full with a child for him.
Then he lay next to her, turning toward her and pulling her hips toward him, pressing her belly with his warm, effulgent member; moving, thrusting, pushing.
He reached between her legs to feel the entrance; licked his fingers, running them over the swollen opening, moving inside to the wetness and massaging the sweet spot, making her swell and open, drawing the water there.
He took his member and touched it to the opening, moving slowly in and out, pressing a little further each time. Two Many Toes felt the pleasure knocking on her door, moving away, knocking again; and she welcomed it, drawing it in further and further; until he was inside her, sliding in and out, pushing to the darkness and the dripping, echoing place.
He turned her on her back, mounting her and holding her hips as he moved into her, driving deeper and deeper, harder and harder. His body jerked as his seed erupted, filling her and filling her, overflowing with rushing, pulsing sensation, his fountain gushing into her and spilling out of her; the groan of the bear in her ear and the cry of the eagle in her throat; answering him, loving him, sending joy to all the grandmothers and grandfathers.
They panted and panted as if they had just run a race. Two Streams wrapped his body around hers and pulled the blanket close. And after a while, they slept.
In the middle of the night, Two Many Toes cradled the baby close to her bare breasts and fed him with goat's milk.
And in the morning light, she and Two Streams smiled at one another with a special look. Two Many Toes said shyly, "You are my husband."
Two Streams Come Together nodded, "Yes."