a.m.

I am being carried off by Valkyries, not to Valhalla to be honored but to an execution block. My offense? Treason. I betrayed my own kin by failing to obey orders to kill. I thrash and kick and bite to get away from the grasp of my executioners to no avail. My head is thrust on a flat rock. The smell of anger, old blood and death is everywhere. I feel the cold steel knife dig onto the flesh of my neck. I hear the cheers of those who condemned me to my end.

Then, amidst the furor, I heard a teeny voice, like that of a kitten’s mewl. “Milk.”

The images of my execution evaporated. I am back in my own bed in my own century. It was still dark. By the silver light that poured in from the windows, I could make out the tiny figure bundled in our comforter. A small hand poked out from the bundle, and pudgy fingers searched for a familiar shape.

“Milk, please.” the teeny voice was a bit more urgent now. The pudgy fingers patted my arm.

I got up to grant the request. It could be that daybreak was still hours away, and I stumbled-shuffled in the semi-darkness to the alcove where we kept the milk. My senses were on autopilot as I poured water onto a bottle, scooped out the appropriate measure of formula, recapped the bottle and shook it to mix the concoction.

Through the thin curtains, I could make out a thin line of gold on the horizon. The sky was still a fuzzy purple with a handful of stars strewn about.

I got back to the figure under the comforter. I shook the milk bottle slightly, and the sound of the milk swishing in the bottle caused the figure to stir. A face poked out from the covers. “Thank you,” she said as she reached for the bottle and led the teat to her lips. All the while, her eyes were closed.

“You’re welcome,” I whispered  and eased back to my place on the bed. I kissed her cheek. She smelled of lavender and milk. I couldn’t get enough of her scent so I nuzzled her shoulder. She kept on drinking her milk, oblivious to me.

“Ma,” she called out a few moments later. Her eyes were still shut but she brandished the now-empty milk bottle. I took it from her hand. She turned to her side and was deep in sleep almost instantly.

I lay there in the semi-darkness. I listened to her breathing. Slowly, the day unfolded. I heard the old rooster crow. The golden line on the horizon has now stained the entire western sky with pinkish gold light. A breeze ruffled the curtains and brought with it the aroma of smoke from a woodfire.

The day has begun.

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