The Secret Party

Entry by: Freya

18th March 2016
The secret party / In the land of biggies

The two-year old grabbed her around her waist and squeezed.
‘Gentle, darling.’ Sandra gasped.
Juniora was getting stronger. Soon Sandra would have to become even more wary. She knew the safest would be to hide and wait till her daughter was five or six years old and could be reasoned with. Some women in her village did that but Sandra couldn’t. Juniora was her baby and her duty, and hadn’t it been like that since the dawn of times? The Giantess brought the biggie when it was the woman’s time. The woman was then obliged to care for her biggie. If she did her job well, the biggie thrived and shrank in time to a manageable size. The key was to survive till the biggie began to comprehend. Before that happy moment, it was nothing extraordinary for a woman to be clasped to death or strangled by mistake. The biggie would cry for days afterwards. Sometimes it would die of neglect as there was no one to care for it. The biggies required so much care that a woman could only afford to maintain one. Sandra felt for the orphaned biggies. It wasn’t their fault that they were five times the size of their mothers. And casualties were unavoidable, as the Giantess said.
Whatever the risk, Sandra couldn’t leave Juniora. The biggie could get lost in the woods or perish some other way. The Giantess would then return and hand Sandra another baby. To the Giantess it didn’t matter who cared for the biggie, but Sandra was afraid she might not love another baby as much as she did Juniora.
Juniora dropped her to a sandpit. The baby’s bulky legs gave way and she first sat and then lied down. She rubbed her sapphire eyes with her dimpled fists and started purring to herself.
Sandra dusted yellow dirt off her dress and approached her baby’s head. She stroked Juniora’s chubby cheeks, and the baby smiled drowsily.
‘My beloved girl,’ said Sandra, caressing the giant chin, and Juniora brought her lips closer and offered her little mama a kiss. Baby’s saliva soaked Sandra’s dress but she felt warmth spreading in her heart. She patted her baby girl some more until the heavily eye-lashed lids shut. She felt grateful it was summer and she didn’t have to fetch the blanket. Spreading several meters of the heavy material over the sleeping biggie took her at least half an hour.
‘Good morrow,’ someone whispered behind her back.
Sandra turned on her heel and spotted a tiny wrinkled woman the size of her hand. The woman had to be very old. In a year or two she was likely to disappear. Sandra wondered sometimes if shrinking really meant dying. Her people reduced in size as they grew older, but she feared that while they were no longer noticeable to their folks, they could still wander among them. She stopped herself. It was blasphemous to think this way. The Giantess insisted that the moment one could no longer be perceived by the others, she perished. Who was Sandra to question their leader?
‘Can I help you with anything, grannie?’ Sandra knelt beside the stranger.
‘The members of the secret party are gathering at dusk by the old oak. Come and join us, my child.’
‘Who are the secret party? Are you sure it’s me you wanted to invite?’ Sandra couldn’t feel more taken aback. Why would anyone want to invite such a nobody to a gathering of any sort?
‘You are the last link to our chain. Tomorrow the world as we know it will end. We need to prepare.’ After uttering the last word, Grannie started withdrawing deeper into the woods.
‘What do you mean? Please wait!’ Sandra leapt to her feet and followed Grannie, but the little woman ran fast and soon disappeared in the foliage.
Sandra returned to her sleeping biggie and wondered what she should do. The orange sun was ready to set. She checked on Juniora. The baby lied on her side, sucking the thumb the size of a small tree. She was unlikely to wake till morning and Sandra could risk leaving her for an hour or two. The secret party intrigued her. Not much happened in her village. Biggies occupied all their time. Between feeding, putting to sleep and avoiding being squashed, there was little time for pleasure. What if she did join the gathering? Grannie said something about the world ending. This unnerved Sandra. What could she mean? Would Juniora be safe in this new, changed world?
She decided to go. It was better to understand what was about to happen. She checked on her biggie again. The baby slept soundly.
The woods surrounding Sandra's home turned murky. In the twilight the tree brunches seemed to change into long hands that wanted to grab her ankles and so she started to run. She stopped only on sighting a large fire burning in the middle of a clearing. Several women, some tiny as Grannie, some a similar size to Sandra, squatted around it. They all turned their heads towards the newcomer, as the twig crunching under her foot gave her away.
‘Greetings. Come and join the circle,’ Grannie beckoned her with a smile.
Sandra bowed her head respectfully and, stepping towards the fire, glanced at her companions. She didn’t recognise a single one of them. Their dresses and scarves varied in style but were all made from rich colourful fabrics. Her own bleached linen dress seemed oddly out of place. She felt even more insignificant than usual.
‘The secret party is now complete. The wise, the beautiful, the faithful, the fearless, the generous, the merry and the kind-hearted,’ Grannie turned her head to each one of them, starting with herself and ending with Sandra, ‘are all present. The visitors can be brought.’
Sandra followed with her eyes one of the smaller ladies, the fearless if she remembered correctly, who broke from the circle and disappeared behind a large tree. The other women’s tense expressions told Sandra that they waited in as much suspense as her. Who were they expecting? And what did the visitors have to do with the end of the world Grannie mentioned earlier?
The fearless brought two strangers one of whom held a small stirring bundle in her arms.
‘Meet Christine, her partner and,’ Grannie hang her voice, ‘their baby.’
The women started speaking one over another.
‘What is this? Why is the baby small? Everyone knows only old people are tiny! Why do they both care for the baby? It is always one woman and one biggie. There can’t be two!’
Grannie raised her hand to silence the circle.
‘There is much to explain. First look at Christine’s partner. What do you see?’
Sandra peered into the stranger’s face. The woman was unlike any she had known. Broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped, flat-chested and muscular. Was there hair growing on her chin and under her nose?
‘Johan is unlike any of us. It is he, not she. A male,’ Grannie explained.
‘What is a male?’ the beautiful inquired.
‘It is better to ask what does a male do,’ corrected Grannie. ‘A male is a partner to a female. He gives her offspring. He cares for her and their baby. He loves her.’
‘That can’t be true,’ the faithful protested. ‘The Giantess brings babies.’
The remaining women nodded their agreement and rolled their eyes in outrage.
‘And what does it mean that he cares for her and the baby? The mama has no one to care for her. It is she who gives care,’ the generous added, biting her lips, clearly uncomfortable with the insinuations that the world might not be what it had always seemed.
‘Look closer at the baby in Christine’s arms,’ Grannie commanded, and they all approached the stranger. Christine smiled at them coyly and unwrapped her bundle.
‘What is that thing between her legs?’ the merry, clearly short-sighted, squinted and bent her head towards the baby. ‘Is the baby sick?’
Grannie chuckled.
‘He is in perfect health. It’s a baby boy. A little male.’
‘Does the Giantess know about him? What did she say?’ the faithful wondered.
‘The Giantess does not know. She is no more.’
‘It can’t be! The Giantess is eternal and omnipotent,’ the beautiful protested.
The women started crying. ‘What will happen to us? What about our biggies?’
As the women moved away from Christine, Sandra came near her and the baby and reached for the little foot. It was soft and fitted in her palm. How lovely it would be if Juniora was that size. Sandra could cuddle her. Women would no longer be squeezed or trampled. Was it what would happen now when the Giantess had perished? But would the biggies be safe? What if more of the he’s came and wanted to give the women their own offspring?
She glanced at Grannie, the wise one, asking a voiceless question.
‘The kind-hearted has good reasons to worry,’ Grannie said, and the ladies shifted their eyes to Sandra who coloured under so much attention. ‘Christine and Johan came to warn us. The Giantess was killed by the he’s and their army is coming to conquer us. They come from a land where women are sparse. They perish birthing their offspring.’
‘Birthing?’ The beautiful opened her eyes wider. ‘How is that even possible?’
‘You’ll learn sooner than you may like,’ Grannie whispered more to herself than to the others. ‘The world will never be the same again.’
‘Will they hurt our babies?’ Sandra overcame her timidity at last.
‘They will,’ Johan responded, and they all stared at him, amazed at how low his voice sounded. ‘They always kill the offspring that is not theirs.’
‘How will we save our biggies?’ Sandra asked again.
‘That’s why the secret party was called. We need to find a way,’ Grannie said with gravity.
‘But how will we fight them? We don’t have their strength.’ The faithful looked at Johan, fear in her eyes.
‘We know how to avoid being squashed by the biggies. We know how to sidestep,’ Sandra suggested with power she never suspected she had. The love to Juniora filled her with might. She would protect her or die trying.
‘Evasions are good, but they won’t be enough,’ the generous shook her head. ‘What else can we rely on?’
Nobody answered. The women and the strangers glanced at each other, hoping someone else would suggest a solution, but then they looked away. There was no easy answer.
Sandra looked at them all. She remembered how Juniora had kissed her before she fell asleep, how she traced her every step with the loving baby eyes when she bathed and fed her, how she squeezed her to show her affection. No. Juniora would live. Sandra would think of something. She glanced at the circle of ladies: the wise, the beautiful, the faithful, the fearless, the generous, the merry and the kind-hearted. Sandra felt as if power larger than the world entered her body and twisted something in her often lazy head. Suddenly she saw the situation with new clarity.
'Only by working together the circle becomes stronger than each of its links,’ she said. ‘Let’s join our hands.’
The women circled the fire and linked their hands. They looked at each other initially uncertain but then calmer and focused. A strange wave passed through them as their bodies touched. Their minds connected and became one. Christine and Johan stared at the circle enthralled. The light shoot in the air as if the fire in the middle of the circle started spreading. But it wasn’t the fire. It was the power the circle produced. The power of wisdom, beauty, faith, fearlessness, generosity, merriment and kindness. The power no man can overcome. The power that would help them protect their biggies.