Spring Virgin

She looked down at the babe in the basket which sat next to her sleeping cot. The little one had just finished his meal of milk from her and was fast asleep, swaddled sweetly in a blanket she had made while pregnant with him. She was young and had been scared while pregnant because she did not know what to expect. Her mother had died in childbirth, her grandparents had died while she was still young, and the rest of the females of her tribe did not wish to discuss such things with her because she was not family. She had her father, who was the greatest comfort through the entire thing, but without the reassurance of a woman, she just did not know what to expect.

The father was an unknown variable to her, for she had lost her virginity and came pregnant with the child from a fertility festival. She had just hit the minimum age to participate and most everyone thought she would not be the one to be chosen from all the girls who were of age and who were not betrothed already. Because she was from a small family and one that was not so well known, no one had wished to marry the lonely girl. She had seemed fragile and many thought she would die like her mother in childbirth.

The festival had happened on the Spring Solstice when the day started to become longer than the nights and the nip in the air started to warm. The females dressed all in white gowns which flowed to their knees and were tied with rope around their middles. They had to run through the forest as the sun set and as soon as the sun’s last rays left the earth the young males were released. All parties, male and female, wore masks. The males ran after the females who had passed into the trees a while before and had to find them. During this, the females would find hiding places within the forest. There were definitely better hiders than others, but any female who was found would then follow the male who found her back to the village where they would drink and dine. Sometimes those couples would hook up but it was not a necessity of the rite.

The main goal was for the females to remain hidden from the males as long as possible. If they were able to do this until the sun started to make the sky gray to welcome the morning sun, they could then try to sneak around any males still looking back to the village. If they were able to do this and there was still a male looking to find female then that female would be crowned the Spring Virgin. If there was a male who came walking in last after having not found any female, they would have to stay back with the younger lads and relearn the lessons they should have already known to complete this challenge.

The Spring Virgin would have a feast the following night and a test of strength, wits, and courage would be demonstrated in front of her. She would choose among the masked males the one she thought would be the best mate. Typically these two would end up being the two highest ranking individuals of their genders, but it was not always the case. If it was not one of the top people speculation and curiosity would run through the village. It was not always clear as to who the Spring Virgin had been either since there would be a few pregnancies from the festivities. And there was always the chance that the Spring Virgin would not produce a child this time.

It just so happened this past Spring, she had become the Spring Virgin. She was used to sneaking around and not being seen and so found it easier than most to get through the night and back into the village before anyone even realized it. The following night she had been out of her element with everyone putting themselves on display for her. She found it frightening and exhilerating.

Thinking back to those nights as she watched her little boy sleep so soundly made her smile. They had been scary, but they changed her life for the best. No, she did not have a husband, but she would prove to her family and her village she did not need a man in her life to get through it.

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