It was said that the water from Eau temple could heal. The temple itself was in the middle of the sea, and only us, priestesses, were allowed inside. Later this day, I received a letter containing my sister’s plummeting health condition. I had prepared a full canteen of the temple’s water when a second letter arrived. With greatest sadness, my sister did not survive.
It was said that the water from Eau temple could heal. But I believe it could do so much more; no, not the water, but the source. I believe it could bring back the dead.
I didn’t allow grief to sway me from my plan. Coincidentally, it was my turn for performing the cleansing ritual, an act which would allow me to go near the source, and borrow it for a few moments. I promised myself that I would bring it back once everything was done.
Our house wasn’t far from the shore and all members of my family were there; my sister in her simple white dress lying on her bed. She looked like she was sleeping except for the absence of the rise and fall of her chest, of the color in her cheeks, of the movement of her eyes beneath her lids. I gripped the glistening Eau orb to my chest as I slowly approached her.
“Daughter,” mother managed to rasp from her hoarse voice and tear-stained face. “You are too late. She is gone. You are far, far too late,” she accused.
As if my sister’s frail health was my fault. As if I was to be blamed for her death. I refuse to accept my sister’s end even if it goes against what was taught in the temple. “It is never too late, Mother. Not with the orb of Eau with us.”
My mother gasped. And so did my father and brothers. “What have you done, child?” my father bellowed. “That sacred orb must never leave the temple.” His eyes were panicked as he continued, “You have doomed as all.”
I stopped hearing everyone’s fearful cries for safety and stopped caring for their silent, frantic steps to flee. I knelt beside my sister’s bed and placed the orb right above her chest, made her small, delicate hands to wrap around it.
The orb started to glow and with it my hope grew. This was the right thing to do. I will save her, I thought. Outside our house, people were screaming for help, for salvation, for safety.
“The sea! The sea is retreating! Run!” they called.
Suddenly, a huge amount of wind shook the thin walls of our house, lifting my hair and skirts in every direction, lifting my sister’s body off the ground.
“No!” I screamed and scrambled atop the bed, covering my sister’s body with my own. “Ilyanae, wake up!”
And she did.
It worked! The orb worked! I was so happy a tear escaped my eye.
But as I studied my sister’s features, her eyes… Her dark blue eyes were blank and stared at nothing, her face impassive. “Ilyanae?” I whispered. Her skin turned from cold to freezing. And as her chest expanded in an inhale, water leaked out from every hole in her body so cold it burned then quickly froze. I snatched the orb before it stuck in my sister’s frozen body and watched in horror as cracks slowly formed from her eyes like tears running down her face, splitting in every direction, every part of her body, until finally it shatters into a million broken pieces.
“No!” I screamed, clutching the orb to my chest, just as the ocean came crushing down upon me.
I shut my eyes. I’ve failed —failed to save my sister, failed in my duties as priestess, failed as a daughter. And yet, even as I wait for the crushing pressure to drown me, nothing came. I took a breath and realized that I could. I opened my eyes one at a time and saw the ocean above me, beneath me, around me and I realized that I’ve been cocooned in a bubble of air.
But where there should only be water, the faint light of the sun illuminates the destruction the water has done to my village. Huts that should have been in the sand floated around in pieces, carried by the strong current. Worse, I saw bodies of men and women and children, some already bloated, some still struggling to resurface, some only parts of them remained.
The terror gripped me so hard, I shook. Why was I the only one unharmed? Why was I the only one left alive? Why—
My eyes drop to the orb clutched to my chest and my father’s voice echoed to my ears.
I have truly doomed us all.