The Amidon was one handbag to be admired. It charmed viewers with its texture as smooth as flesh, interesting shapes, and creamy colors the rainbow could not even display.
It was a rare commodity because of its material but the village was working hard to meet the demand. Sionillu was one of the Amidon’s biggest admirers. Unfortunately for Sionillu, her family did not have the chips to purchase such a luxury. She and her family only made enough to purchase more food and clothing by selling plants. She wept inside every time she saw a woman in the market flash her Amidon under the sun.
One day, while taking a break from selling plants, Sionillu crossed paths with Rutth, a new girl in the village. “How do you do?” greeted Rutth. “Heard great things about your folks. Why the sad face?” Sionillu shared her desire for an Amidon bag and frustration she could not have one. “Why would you want such a thing?” questioned Rutth. Sionillu looked to Rutth baffled. “Who would not want one? It is one of the most beautiful things in the world! It holds so many things too!” “What would you even put in it after you have spent your life’s savings?” questioned Rutth. “It will be just an empty bag.” Sionillu gave a small thought at this. “I do not know what will be inside but I will carry it everyday, if only I had one.”
Rutth smirked. “I can show you how you can get your hands on an Amidon bag—that is, if you will still want one.” Sionillu smiled with glee. She expected Rutth to take her directly to the bag shop and became puzzled when they continued walking out of the village and towards the caves. There, the two reached a locked gate. Sionillu never understood why there were gates in front of caves. “No one is here now, but before dawn hits every morning, the children of Ricafa are forced to look for bodies of people who die working in the caves from the never ending earthquakes here.” Rutth picked up on Sionillu’s confusion. “Where else did you think people got the skin to make Amidons?” Rutth offered. “I know Amidons are made from skin, but what do children from Ricafa have to do with anything?” Rutth shook her head. “Everything. Because of the demand of Amidons, more and more children are brought here from Ricafa stripped away from their families forever to provide for your comfort.” Sionillu looked at the black gates with spikes at the top. They stood tall with intimidating terror. She never saw such a sight before. Sionillu felt a strain coming behind her neck. “How do I know you are even telling the truth?”
Rutth stepped closer to Sionillu. “There is one way for you to find out—you can volunteer yourself to gather up bodies. Get down on your knees just like everyone else. Witness and survive, and maybe you will be able to make your own Amidon if you are selfish enough and set one body aside just for you. But make sure to take a good hard look at the face of the person. Smell, even taste, his blood. Get that metallic-ness. Get a good feel of what the Amidon is really about.”
Sionillu began to walk away from the gate. “You are disgusting,” she said. Rutth scoffed. “I am disgusting? Maybe you will become disgusted when you see the children bending over in discomfort turning over rocks and searching for bodies just so you and others could feel a little bit more special about yourself.”
Sionillu walked away straight back to their village. She did not want to talk to Rutth anymore. What was Rutth even talking about? Children searching for dead bodies in caves just for bags to be made? How would Rutth even know about such a thing if that really even happened? The next day she crossed paths with Rutth once again. “How are the children? Did you decide to take one of their places? Win-win situation there—child gets to go back to his family and you get to have your Amidon.” Sionillu admitted she did not go back to the gates at dawn. “Why not? I thought you wanted to know the truth. Or do you just not care?” Sionillu explained she stayed up late at night helping her parents set up the next day’s sales. “There are reasons and there are excuses,” Rutth dropped before going about her way.
The encounters continued. It seemed whenever Sionillu complimented someone on her Amidon, Rutth suddenly appeared to comment on the bag as well. “Sionillu, you can end your distress and have your Amidon too. Just catch a big enough body in the caves. Maybe not too old—the quality may not hold up for as long as you would like. The upside is his family might not miss him so much,” Rutth would say. Or, “When are you going to the gates to take the place of a child so he can rest while you get your Amidon?” Or, “What do you want more?—an Amidon or the truth?”
Sionillu was feeling more and more on edge around Rutth. She wanted Rutth to just stop talking and get out of her head. She once hinted to Rutth she did not want to talk to her anymore by telling her she was busy. This did not deter Rutth. “You want to save time but I am trying to save you some money! I care about you. I. Care. About. People.” There came a point where Sionillu could not stand Rutth anymore. Sionillu could hear Rutth’s voice over and over whenever she walked across the market to marvel at the bags. But why? They were not even friends! Why was Rutth getting in her face about her desire for an Amidon? Yes, Amidons were made of skin, but what was wrong with that? It was natural… In thinking how to get Rutth away, Sionillu decided to call for help from her friend Krille. She invited Rutth over for dinner with her and Krille. “Krille makes a killer dinner,” said Sionillu. “You have to try his rare steak and homemade wine.”
Rutth took Sionillu’s invitation and joined her at Krille’s abode where he indeed prepared a lavish dinner. Rutth was thrilled Sionillu wanted to sit down and talk. Krille poured a glass of wine. “We have to make a toast,” he said. “For what?” questioned Rutth. “For love. Sionillu and I have joined as a union,” explained Krille. Rutth laughed. “Congratulations. Are you going to be the one to get her an Amidon she wants so badly? To show your devotion to her? I recommend volunteering at the caves at dawn—you will really show your commitment. It will also be much cheaper that way. Go ahead, I will bring you to the gates so you can be first in line to pick up a leftover body from the last earthquake. She is so faithful to those Amidons but does not want to put in any work…”
Sionillu felt the hairs on her neck stand again. “Can you stop talking like that?” snapped Sionillu. “Stop it. Just stop it.” Rutth marveled at the wine in her glass. “People are funny. You do not get mad at the one who hurts children, hurts families, or hurts even you. You get mad at me, the one who just gives you information.” “Enough of this serious talk,” Krille interrupted. “Yes, I will get Sionillu an Amidon bag. I will have my hands on the flesh myself. But anyway, let us all enjoy our dinner. Please, do try my wine. Secret, special recipe.” Rutth took a sip of the wine. And Krille and Sionillu, holding onto their own glasses, watched Rutth gulp down her drink and close her eyes slowly to her demise.
Everyday Sionillu proudly carried her Amidon around the market. “Krille must really love you,” others often remarked upon sight of her Amidon sitting comfortably over her shoulder. “Yes,” Sionillu answered, beaming. “He makes me feel special and he keeps me very safe.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Riser likes to write stories and draw sketches that reflect the observed life but also aim to change life as we know it now. She likes the fact that life is complex and often complicated. She can be contacted at email@example.com.