Words of Creation
by M.K. Hutchins
I joined the temple as a very young girl. By the time I was eight, I'd mastered writing. I joined the ranks of the novice priestesses, vowing to never speak again.
Words have power. With words, the gods created the universe. Ordinary people tossed syllables and sentences around like they were copper pennies. But priestesses understood the power in speech. Our utterances could crush mountains or make the rivers run dry. In our history, the few priestesses who tried speaking invariably destroyed themselves.
Silently, I studied and meditated long hours in sacred halls. Silently, I drew maps for farmers, showing them where to dig irrigation canals. One of the farmers, his eyes as brown and warm as fresh-baked bread, asked me if I minded being so quiet.
I sketched him an answer in the sunbaked dirt of the field. I wrote of the ringing caw of the crow and the throaty call of the raven. I described the way water tinkles over metal and hisses down brick walls. The slap of sandals on cobblestones and the whisper of dirt against dirt.
He seemed to understand that silence gave me room to listen to the divine. After that, he always brought a wax board with him. In his clumsy script, he asked me questions. Told me jokes. Filled my days with delight.