Sister Gazelle {A Parable}

Upon the brightness of a new morning, seven sisters set out on a journey from their small village to the new world. In their secret thoughts they imagined the beauty of the new world, but could not conceive of the treacherous road that lay ahead.

Each sister carried provisions on her back: water to cool off from the heat of the high sun, a shawl to protect her sensitive skin from the high winds, and a morsel to quiet her hungry stomach.

The sisters were solemn as they climbed their village wall, something that no other villager has ever dared to do, for every night at their bedsides, they heard the stories handed down from their father’s father and mother’s mother that the world ended beyond the village wall.

When the sisters arrived at the edge of the village they saw a pale blue sky and fluffy white clouds. There was no bridge, no path, no trees, and no birds flying in the sky.

“Father was right!” one exclaimed.

“Mother spoke the truth,” said the other.

The six sisters cried and chattered among themselves while one sister stepped out onto the clouded sky.

“This is a bridge, a beautiful bridge!” She exclaimed while she danced like a white gazelle across the emptiness, her gossamer robes flowed in the gentle breeze.

“What has happened to our sister?” the eldest said.

“She transformed,” said one.

“We must follow her,” said another.

But the sisters kept their provisions on their backs and the sky threatened to break under the weight of their heavy loads. By the time they all reached the other side, each sister had deep wounds from her journey. They forgot about the provisions on their backs and complained of thirst, coldness and hunger. They became hunched over, ugly, and suspicious. They looked upon Sister Gazelle with disgust and wanted to kill her.

Sister Gazelle, impervious to their plot, led them to a cave.  At the mouth of a cave was a scroll that read:

You must leap across the hidden danger and pick up seven straws without fail. One of you will meet your demise if you miss but one straw.

The six embittered sisters thought of the perfect plan to kill Sister Gazelle. The eldest hastily gathered her kin together.

“Sister Gazelle we want to protect you. Let me go into the cave and gather the seven straws. I will hand them out when I succeed, and we can continue on our journey.”

Sister Gazelle was amazed at the beauty of the crystals in the cave. She delighted in the sound of the swirling vulture, and she greeted the spiders that crawled over her naked toes.

“I will come with you my sister. This is such a beautiful sight, I fear not the danger that the scroll says is here,” said sister Gazelle.

“Fair enough,” Said the eldest sister.

Each entered the cave and saw no danger. They only saw the beasts of the night resting peacefully.  Sister Gazelle began to sing to the sleeping bats.

Rest now my loves

Soon you will be flying in the moonlight

We will meet upon the face of the deep

At the feast of life…

The eldest sister became angry at the beauteous melody of Sister Gazelle’s voice.

“Quiet!” she said, “You will awaken the hidden danger.”

Sister Gazelle looked on the ground and saw that her sister stood in the center of the seven scattered straws.

“It is time to leap now, my sister,” she said.

The eldest sister looked deeply into sister Gazelle’s eyes. “Let it be you,” she said.

She leapt high and swiftly gathered all the straws except for the one she found to be the most beautiful. When she landed, her insides liquefied and dripped into the cracks of the cave. All that was left was her skin.

Sister Gazelle was horrified at the sight of her sister’s empty body lying on the ground. She went over to touch it and the spirit of her sister rose up from it.

“Sister Gazelle, You must put me on as your garment and go out to our sisters. Save their heartache. Tell them that you were the one that died. You must wear my skin until the day of your death.”

Sister Gazelle picked up her sisters remains and placed her feet and legs inside.  Her flowing robes became stained and she smelled of death. She tried to put her arms and bosom into her sisters empty arms and bosom but her eldest sister was far too short and wide. When Sister Gazelle put her sisters face and hair over her own, she collapsed and nearly suffocated to death.

A bat heard her suffering and flew down to rescue her.  He removed the death mask from her head.

“You were the one who was singing to us, who carries light in her wake. Did you not read of the hidden danger in this place?” asked the bat.

Sister Gazelle was struggling to breathe.

“I did not believe such a beautiful place could hold such a danger,” she coughed.

And the bat replied,

“The cavernous heart has the most hidden dangers of all. Your sisters had intentions you could not see. Go out to them and break ties and I will help you to the other side of the cave.”

Sister Gazelle, wearing her sisters legs and feet, dragged herself past the sleeping bats, under the humming crystals and out into the stark bright sun. When she looked around she saw that all but one of her sisters had died; they had been picked clean by the vulture that circled.

“Sisters!” She cried out.

“Sister…” a frail old woman called out to her from behind a large stone. It was her youngest sister who now was a haggard crone. Her robes were torn by the vulture, her skin hung from her arms, and her eyes bulged from their sockets.

“A century has passed since you and our beloved eldest went to fetch the straws.” She said.

Sister Gazelle undressed herself from the skin of her eldest sister and laid it at her youngest sister’s gnarled feet.

“You see this?” said Sister Gazelle, as she pointed to the mass of skin. “This is the hidden danger. I know you and the others plotted to kill me, but our eldest sister, the one who swore to protect us, hated me the most and sealed your fate. Now she is dead and gone and her human robes are feast for the vulture. I am still young. I cannot protect you or take you with me for you are too old and frail. You forgot the provisions on the journey and they became your hunched back. You will eaten alive and die here just as the other sisters were eaten.”

As Sister Gazelle made her proclamation, the circling vulture screeched.

And the youngest sister said:

“My beautiful Sister Gazelle, you do not realize. I was already eaten alive before we left the village.”

And the vulture swooped down and took the crone’s eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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