Monday, December 25, 2017

The Solstice Play – A Sumeria Sons Ficlit #SumeriasSons

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!



The Solstice Play – A Sumeria Sons Ficlit

Tristan

With the festive decorations, the Hall of Shamash looked bright and cheerful. Brian shifted nervously in the seat next to me. Here on the balcony, we had the best view of the house, overlooking the dais that normally held the Council of Five's desks. Now it was decorated with cardboard cutouts brightly painted to look like fertile wetlands. Bolts of blue felt covered the floor, representing water.

Under the tutelage of the Goddess Uttu, the children of all the Tribes were being instructed in our ancient history. On this Winter Solstice, a few of the pups were going to act out the Great Flood. Justus and his sisters, Neoma and Dawn, along with their close friends Malek and Ira were participating. They had begged the triplets be allowed to be in the play as well. Ushna was the first one to capitulate, convincing Brian and me that it would be fun.

"You know," I said to Brian as I leaned into him. "You could just go down there and help out like Ushna is." And then Brian would be close enough to the boys that he would stop snarling at everyone. This was supposed to be a carefree night. We were all protective of the pups, but Brian more so than anyone.

Brian slouched down in his seat and crossed his arms over his chest. For the moment, we were alone on the balcony and Brian could be himself. He was always guarded and aloof with everyone outside our inner circle. I loved seeing his grumpy-grouch side, but I didn't tease him. The last several months had been full of changes since Marduk and Inanna were defeated and the government confronted. Every time we left the safety of the ranch, Brian switch to hyper-alertness, even when we were in the relative safety of one of the Tri-Cities. We were currently visiting Bahbelle, staying with Ushna's parents for the holidays. I was pleased to see the citizens seemed to be adapting well to the new location at the base of the Rocky Mountains.

Watching the humans look for Bahbelle in the old location in Georgia was… The elbow in my ribs caused me to grunt. "Ouch! Now you need to kiss it and make it better."

Brian straightened a little and leered, then frowned. "Don't distract me from chastising you."

"All I was doing was sitting here," I scoffed.

"You had that look on your face." He pointed at my mouth, like that would explain the jab he gave me.

I pulled at my cheeks. "Sorry," I said sarcastically. "I don't think it's going anywhere."

He elbowed me again. "Don't be a smart-aleck."

"Hey, it's my best character trait," I defended.

He glanced at my groin. "Not in my opinion." Brian frowned again. "Stop doing that. Now I can't remember what I was originally going to say."

I grinned, feeling accomplished. I slouched in the seat and widened my legs. "I know exactly what you can do while you try to remember."

Below on the stage, Usha appeared at the wings and crossed to the middle. He planted his fists on his hips and looked up at us. "We can hear you."

Brian turned bright red. Not the lightly pink cheeks of sweet embarrassment. Nope. His whole head and neck turned fire engine red. I pulled at the collar of his shirt to see how far the color went and he slapped my hand away, muttering, "Asshole," under his breath.

"I just thought you would want to know before you went from PG talking to bow-chica-wow-wow with innocent ears around." Ushna grinned. "We are ready. If you have no objections, I'll tell security to allow people in."

After I nodded, Ushna walked off stage. He was wearing my favorite pair of wranglers. Brian and I groaned in unison. Ushna threw a flirty smile over his shoulder before disappearing behind the curtain.

Brian leaned forward, and I watched him count the number of warriors on the ground floor. "The boys should have at least four guards on each of them. We think we routed out all the members of the Servants of the Glorious One, but some nefarious organizations are like cockroaches. You think you got them all—"

I cut him off. "There are a dozen guards down there. More out in the reception hall and on the grounds. All the children are perfectly safe."

There were also various warriors, in civilian cloths, drifting through the crowds. I took every precaution so the pups could have some fun.

"Are you sure you don't want to go down there?"

Brian let out a long breath. "I'll stay, for now."

I smiled and gripped his thigh. The balcony started filling with family and friends. Neesie sat next to me with Lonnie on her other side. Stan and Theo, hood pulled up over Theo's scarred face, took the seats next to Brian. I was glad Stan convinced Theo to come to the play. He rarely left Sanctuary.

Down below, the civilians entered the auditorium and claimed seats. I was excited. Such performances had fallen out of practice when the last of the Lycan kings died. Finding information on the different celebrations had taken the elder of the King's Library a little time to find. The pups chose the Great Flood for Solstice to celebrate new beginnings, which was wholly appropriate considering the changes that had taken place this past year.

Once the seats were filled, Dawn stepped onto the stage, looking enchanting in a diaphanous dress of sparkling white with matching butterfly wings. With graceful poise she waited for the crowd to hush before bringing the microphone to her mouth and introducing herself as the narrator of the play.

Out of the corner of my eye, Theo leaned forward, his concealing hood slipping down as he watched Dawn with evident pride.

"And it came to pass that Enlil, King of the Gods, became upset that humans were overpopulating the Earth. He called a meeting of his brothers and sisters."

On stage, four kids walked to the center. Ira was dressed as Enlil with long flowing robes, a beard that was tucked into his belt, and a set of wings. Malek was the Sky God, Anu. A few people snickered at his white wig, the hair sticking out like he'd been electrocuted and a blue-belted robed that ended at the knee. Neoma was the Goddess Ki. She refused to wear a skirt, saying that it would be ridiculous to fight in. Instead, she wore white pants and a turtleneck sweater with matching knee-high boots. At her belt hung a cudgel and atop her head a crown of ram's horns.

Brian growled under his breath and sat straighter. Atar was dressed in a Halloween lion onesie. A puppy chest harness connected him to the leash that Neoma held. She patiently walked slowly so that Brian could keep up with her as she joined the other gods on the stage.

"You agreed to that?" Brian whispered harshly. He didn't look at me, not really needing me to answer the question.

I chuckled under my breath. He had no idea what would be coming. I was going to have a ball watching this play unfold.

Justus was the last to jump on stage and the laughter in the room grew. He wore a huge black wig with long curly hair and a loincloth. That was it. I stifled a laugh and I heard Theo cough. Someone had went to town on Justus with a bottle of self-tanner and some kind of sparkly bronzer. He was mottled brown and orange,  not by design. Justus stopped next to Neoma and posed. His wig dipped into his eyes and he quickly pushed it back into place while retaining his stance.

Theo's cough turned into a choke, Stan slapping him on the back a couple of times. "Is he wearing anything under the loincloth," Theo wheezed.

"Goddess, I hope so," Stan replied.

I wiped my eyes, laughing as silently as I could. I didn't think he did.

The door to the balcony opened and I turned to see Cory letting in Randy and surprisingly—or perhaps not—the Goddess Ereshkigal. For some reason, she had taken a liking to Justus and often visited at odd times of the day or evening.

Down below, the God Enlil was upset about there being so many humans, filling up the world, making all manner of noise, and creating chaos. He sent drought and famine and there were still too many. "I have decided, there will be a flood to wash away all this trash!"

"Sounds like Enlil," Ereshkigal commented, sitting somewhere behind me. "I always thought he was a blind fool."

The argument raged among the gods and goddess. Atar was sitting on his butt his gaze hopping from one person to another, his eyes wide.

"Enough!" Enlil exclaimed, hands raised in the air." I have made up my mind and you are all sworn to secrecy."

Anu and Ki held onto Enki's arms as he lunged as if to attack Enlil. He snarled, "You cannot kill the life that all of the gods have helped to create. Life is precious in every form!"

Without warning, Atar the lion cub lunged and attacked Enlil with a might roar. My brows climbed my forehead and Brian's mouth was formed in a large, round O. Behind me, Ereshkigal gave a rusty laugh. "Oh, I wish that had really happened. Get him, little lion. Bite him hard!"

Enlil stumbled and fell on his butt, Atar pulling on the end of Enlil's robe while Ki tugged on Atar's leash, bent over laughing. Enlil didn't break character, raising his fist and promising retribution which earned him a bite on the ankle.

The auditorium was filled with the crowd's amusement. Enki picked up the lion cub and tucked him under his arm. "You haven't heard the last of me, Enlil!" Enki exclaimed, exiting the stage.

When I glanced at Brian his earlier indignation was replaced by pride. Stan wondered aloud how long it would take for the self-tanner to wear off. Below, the stage was being reset with a new scene. A cardboard house was erected with a back drop of a city.

Dawn stepped back onto stage. "The hero of this tale is a gudug priest who is sometimes called Zi-ud-sura or Atra-hasis. But the descendants of Enkidu and Gilgamesh know him best as Utnapishtim, the ancestor of Gilgamesh. Chieftain and priest, Utnapishtim was at the river when he heard a whisper in the reeds."

Ushna was briefly visible as he escorted Ramsey onto the stage. He wore a brown onesie that had tall reeds glued to the fabric. Ushna sat him on the floor next to the blue felt river. Utnapishtim came out of the cardboard house wearing a brown belted-tunic that went to his knees. He crossed to sit next to Ramsey, dipping his fishing pole in the water. Poor Ramsey was staring at the crowd with huge eyes. He grabbed his feet and rocked, making the reeds swish, drawing his attention to the bushy ends over his head.

Enki crawled onto the stage, holding the front of the loincloth against his groin.  

"Oh, dear Goddess," Theo groaned.

Stopping on the other side of Ramsey, Enki lay on the stage and told Utnapishtim that a great storm was coming. "Remove your house and build a boat." Ramsey squealed and waved at Enki. "You will gather your wife, family, relatives, the craftsmen—"

"And craftswomen," Neoma whispered, close enough to a microphone so we all heard her.

When Enki didn't respond to Ramsey's wave he grabbed Enki's hair.

Enki grabbed his wig before it was pulled completely off his head. "And craftswomen." He finally got Ramsey to let his hair go. "And baby animals and grains."

On the other side of the stage at the house, little Brian in a pink bunny costume peeked his head out the door and looked around with a devilish grin. A couple of months ago, the triplets had turned one year old. They were walking, though their balance was precarious. The bunny toddled on two legs then dropped and crawled like a bullet toward the reeds right as Enki was wrapping up with Utnapishtim. The bunny jumped onto the reeds and the reeds gave a high-pitched scream that made everyone laugh.

"Is there anyone watching the boys at all?" Brian snarled. 

I shouldn't have to remind him that the triplets were escape artists. I would almost bet that Atar did something really cute to draw all attention to him so that his brother could get away from their caregivers. It was a popular tactic they employed, and I was surprised that there were still people who fell for the maneuver.

The rabbit rolled in the reeds until Utnapishtim grabbed the bunny and then turned and ran back to the house when the reeds snarled and attempted to follow. Enki quickly picked up Ramsey and passed him off to Ushna.

Dawn returned to the stage as kids swarmed the set. The house and village were removed, replaced with a large boat.

"And then the storm came," Dawn said as the lights lowered. Neesie startled when a rumble of thunder came and the lights flashed. "You could say it was the storm of the century. Even the gods and goddesses were terrified and fled to Dilmun." Behind her a group of gods ran across the stage huddled together, leaving a trail of colorful feathers shed by their costumes. "Utnapishtim had readied everything as he'd been counseled." Kids dressed as villagers hurried from the curtains to the door of the boat.

In the midst of the group acting out the flood, the lion Atar charged out the boat's door and then crawled as quickly as he could toward Dawn. Behind him, another lion—someone had redressed Ramsey—followed. Dawn covered the microphone. "Atar. Ramsey. Go back. You're supposed to be fleeing the storm."

A high-pitched squeal sounded before little Brian in the pinky bunny costume and wearing Ki's ram's horn crown chased the lions.

"Well, ladies and gentlemen, the first sighting of a jackalope was witnessed in 5000 BCE," Dawn deadpanned as the rabbit snarled and tackled the slower lion.

I was laughing so hard, I didn't have the air to call Brian's name as he hopped over his hair and rushed out of the balcony, Neesie following behind.

"I have never heard of this jackalope, Randy. Is there one on the ranch that I can see?" Ereshkigal said from behind me.

I couldn't help it. I laughed until I cried.

After the play finished and we met obligations at the reception, Ushna, Brian, and I met everyone at Ushna's parents house. When I walked in Theo and Stan were talking to Justus about his loincloth.

"Why didn't you wear anything underneath?" Theo questioned.

Justus sounded incredulous. "It's called method acting, Dad. I needed to be authentic to the time period. I interviewed Enki very carefully. He said people didn't wear anything under the loincloth."

"Here, let us put them to bed," Ushna's mother, Donya, said reaching for Atar. The pups had fallen asleep almost as soon as we climbed into the car.

Behind me Ushna handed little Brian over to his father, Hami. Brian followed them out of the room with Ramsey, whispering he'd be back, which I doubted. He wouldn't leave them for another half hour and with as tired as we all were, Brian would fall asleep watching over the boys.

Taking Ushna's hand, we followed the voices to Donya's kitchen. Justus still wore his costume and wig. The orange of the self-tanner was hideously bright under the florescent lights. The kids grinned up at me. Donya had food trays out on the table and counters. My stomach rumbled.

"Who helped you with the…" Stan made a motion that meant he was talking about Justus's skin.

"Uncle Tristan," Justus, Neoma, and Dawn said at once. I stuffed a roll of salami into my mouth and grinned.


"Method acting," was all I said when they turned their horrified gaze to me. I grinned wider. Playing and planning with the kids had been the best stress reliever, while giving everyone a solstice they wouldn't soon forget. I couldn't wait to see the video of what went on backstage. 


Thank you for stopping by and reading!!

2 comments:

  1. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ oh my God! This was hilarious. I will never stop laughing at this. Wish there were more. Thank you Lexi. 😍

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. It was fun to write. :-)

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