She walked through the dark forest. Her limbs were shaking, not from fear, but from excitement. She had been fast asleep when she heard The Call. Though the stories scared everyone else, she always found them fascinating. Instead of cowering, like she knew she should have, she decided to follow. After all, the stories always ended when The Call was heard. Curiosity provoked her into finding out an ending no one else knew about.
Her bare feet softly crunched the dead leaves, her toes nearly frozen, as the hemming of her skirt trailed in the hard dirt. Her breath came out in small frozen clouds as she trailed her fingers along the rough bark of the silent trees.
The Call was beautiful. The voices were melodious, but there was something slightly different about them. It wasn’t the words, she couldn’t distinguish what they were saying, and to her untrained ear, they didn’t sound off key. But still, it was somehow different. Maybe The Call itself wasn’t different, maybe she was somehow.
She continued to walk on in silence, her stride unhurried. She felt no rush to get where she was going, but her heart began to beat faster as her excitement climbed. Her head felt slightly foggy, as if she wasn’t completely in control, but the idea seemed stupid to her. Of course she was in control, it was her body after all.
After a short time, she came to a clearing. The trees leaned towards the clearing, creating a natural canopy over the area. The moon shone brightly down upon the scene though it had been absent behind the clouds outside the forest. And there, in the middle, were at least a dozen women. Some were naked, some wore only underclothes, and some were as modestly dressed as her own grandmother. But they were all dancing.
It wasn’t like any dancing she had seen before. Their hips gracefully swung in time with the music coming from their throats, their hands twirled in the air above their heads, and most of them had their eyes closed. They seemed oblivious to her arrival.
Mesmerized, she stepped forward. She had only taken three steps when everything stopped. She stopped moving as all the women, in unison, turned to look at her. She looked back at them, unable to take her eyes off of their beauty. The silence seemed to last an eternity when a single woman, her head dressed in a crown made of twigs and flowers, stepped from the middle of the ring.
“Welcome, Sister. We’ve been expecting you.” The woman’s voice rang through her ears like bells chiming in a chapel. She looked at the woman, perplexed by her statement.
Suddenly, she broke into a grin, and with a gleeful giggle, she ran at the woman and wrapped her arms around her, greeting her like a long lost friend.
She now knew what The Call was for. Now, she was home.
Happiness flooded her heart as her Sisters cheered in triumph and began to dance feverishly around her, the moves more erratic, the throaty sounds more guttural. As the music grew louder, she began to move her own hips to the music, her hands making their way up her body, her own head thrown back. She knew deep in her soul that she was not raised to be like this. Her family were devout and would lock her up forever if they saw her dancing. But in that same part of her soul, she knew that her part in that life was over. She knew she would never be going back. She knew she wouldn’t be wanted back.
The woman grabbed one of her wrists and pulled her closer to the raging fire in the middle. Without a word, the woman faced her and placed her hands on her cheeks. She stopped dancing.
They stared deep into each other’s eyes, the fire blazing in the chilled night, the Sisters thrashing around them. Without a word, but with full understanding, they broke contact and the woman stepped away, disappearing in the ring of women.
She began to dance again.
She gave over everything. Her life. Her family. Her friends. Her soul. She knew she wanted this. Perhaps she had always known. Her feet continued to move.
She danced closer and closer to the fire, unsure if she would feel any pain. When the music was at its highest, she twirled right into the flames, the tongues of fire licking her skin.
She felt nothing but warmth. The warmth went deep into her soul as she continued to sway in time. With her eyes closed, she smiled as the fire enraged around her. She felt her clothes and hair burn off, she felt her skin blister. She felt herself changing.
A slight curiosity came over her as she felt these things happening. Looking down, she saw her skin bubble. She laughed and pinched a bubble on her arm. She continued to laugh as she pulled her skin completely off, revealing brand new pink skin underneath. Her laughing abruptly stopped as she held the melting skin in front of her eyes. A wiggling thought in her head tried to understand what was going on, tried to talk her out of the situation, but she pushed the thought away and flung the skin in the air. As it dropped on the ember coals, she fervently began to peel off all of her skin, it had suddenly grown quite itchy, and that was a feeling she couldn’t stand.
In a matter of seconds, she was completely naked and her new skin shone brightly pink. She gracefully stepped out of the fire, fully feeling the power that had been stowed upon her.
Her Sisters stopped dancing around her. Now they looked at her with love. She smiled at them as cheers flew into the air once again. She felt her hair shoot out of her skull and push down her back. She looked down in amazement as her once flawed skin now shone pearly white in the fire’s light. A single lock of curly bronzed hair fell in front of her eyes. She lovingly clasped a curl and bounced it in front of her face. Her body was now womanly, curves meant to entice and lure. Before, she had looked like a young girl. She felt taller as this new power surged through her.
With a flick of her finger, she cause a twig near her to burst into flames. A laugh burst deep in her throat. Flaming twigs soon littered the ground, the Sisters paying no heed to them as they rejoiced in the membership of their new sister.
She soon gave up the little game she was playing and began to dance with them once again. They began their call, her own call adding to the mix. They only had to wait a few minutes.
The snapping of a twig echoed behind them. The music and dancing stopped as they all turned to stare at her.
She recognized her at once. It was her birth sister.
Stepping forward, she reached out for her sister’s hand as her sister stared at her in amazed horror. She smiled at her, knowing she wouldn’t get one in return.
Clasping her hand, she encouraged her sister to dance as she maneuvered her to the fire. Soon she would join Them. Her sister did not dance. Nor did she smile. But she did not care; she kept on dancing and singing her call.
She felt her sister’s hand twitch in her own, the other’s nervousness biting into her happiness.
She glanced at her sister, slightly frowning when she failed to see her smile. Her grin broadened as her dancing became more erratic.
With a force of twenty men, she pulled on her sister’s arm, forcing her to twirl right into the fire.
The fire had felt warm to her, like a thick blanket. But this was not the case for her sister.
Her sister’s screams soon filled the air. Yet, they kept on dancing.
The smell of burning flesh filled their nostrils. Yet, they kept on dancing.
Their feet pounded the air, their call more rugged than before, and no one smiled.
The sister’s screams slowly faded from the night as she joined Them, her body a pile of ash.
Yet, they kept on dancing.