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by - April 11, 2019

lady in red

Sarah had never been so excited her entire life, although it took five years since her last visit, Red finally came.
For decades, songs about her were sung across their village.  It was she who turned girls into women. Although she came mostly during teenage years, some women were considered fortunate to have her visit them before they turned thirteen.
One of these lucky few was her older sister Mercy. She was only eleven when Red came, their parents were so happy that they killed a ram in her honor.
“Your father will do likewise for you when the time comes.” Their mother said.
Her sister was clothed in expensive linen, the kind which meant she would no longer play in the dirt like other children.
A short period after the visit from Red, families came in groups to speak to their father, they always spoke in low tones, preventing anyone who dared to eavesdrop from hearing a thing.
One evening, three months after the visit, their mother packed all Mercy’s belongings and together they left the house. The next day only their mother returned.
That was the last time she saw her sister before her time came. Whenever she asked about her, their mother would remind her Mercy was a woman now and had been sent to fulfill her purpose as such.
She was thirteen, a bit late for the women in her family but nevertheless, her time had finally come.
That night as the entire village slept, she felt Red’s grip on her lower belly. At first she thought her stomach was just reacting to the two day old meal she had for dinner, it wasn’t until she felt the thick fluid escape from her yoni region that she realized what was happening. 
As Red tightened her grip, Sarah’s flow escaped more aggressively. She held her eyes shut for a few minutes, hoping it was enough time for Red to make her way out of their home. She couldn’t wait to wake a woman.
The next morning, their mother brought her new outfit. It was similar to the kind her sister wore a few years back.
As was promised, a ceremony was held to celebrate her womanhood even though she couldn’t attend.  The entire day, she felt as though Red placed an invisible hold on her belly, one that made even the smell of roast beef repulsive.  
Earlier on during the ceremony, she tried a piece of beef as a sign of respect for her father and his guests. Sadly, the beef and a portion of dinner from the night before were expelled from her stomach.
“This means your birthing will be painless,” her aunty Abe said while stroking her hair.
Unlike her sister’s time, family visits were withheld for three days. Her parents felt it was unwise to receive guests without her in good spirits.
For every family that came, hushed meetings with select members held as expected. Three months after, on the morning her Red flow ended their mother informed her they needed to pack.
Excited that her curiosity would finally be satisfied, Sarah asked her mother where she was going,
“To your new home,” She replied.
Thinking it was a negotiable decision, Sarah sunk back in bed while informing her mother that it won’t be necessary since she liked her current home just fine.
Smacking her legs, her mother let her know they waited long to get the youngest suitor available, and since his family’s arrival, an agreement had been reached.
“Can’t you see this is why Red made you a woman?”
“Your sister was much younger than you when her time came and we received no trouble from her.”
The realization of her soon to be new life made Sarah stiff. Without any help, her mother managed to pack all her belongings in three big sacks.
“If I were you, I’ll embrace my new life. Do you know there are women who die alone because they never got visited?”
Unlike her mother, Sarah envied those women. Perhaps they were the ones truly chosen by Red all along, she thought. For what was more enviable than one having her freedom?
The day before they departed, her betrothed came to their home with gifts for her parents and baby brother whom if she acted as her family hoped, would be closely aged with her first child.
He was handsome compared to most men in their village. His mother informed them he just turned forty, so the union would double as a celebration of his new age.
“You’re so lucky my daughter,” her mother said. She was also meeting her future in-laws for the first time.
That night, she prayed for Red to take her gift away, she prayed for her flow to seize even though she’d been told this gift once given, is never taken back.

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