A soft rain fell as Delah sat upright in her cot. Her face gaunt and stricken, unable to comprehend when the Sisters talked. She arose and unsteadily walked to the door of the hut; opening it she stepped out into the rain, head tilted to the sky. Red curls plastered to her head, she joined in the chorus of the falling drops with tears. It was dawn and everyone was still asleep in the village. Dazed and entranced, Delah walked from the village into the open fields and forests. As the morning grew there was no sign of the sun, just grey cloud and more tears from the heavens. She walked onward aimlessly, through hamlet and nature until coming upon the lake and the willow. Sitting beneath the willow the tree joined her mourning; branches glancing the surface of the lake rippling as droplets fell. Delah looked into the water and saw the Goddess beside her, also crying with grief.

Day after day she wept; food was delivered but remained uneaten. Each day she grew weaker, her appearance bedraggled and muddied. Few stopped to talk, leaving her alone with the sorrow; for it was hers to grasp hold of and they dared not interrupt the bereavement of a mother and her demigod. Delah still lacking in vitality began to faint and drowse ‘neath the willow, her strength leaving her body and returning to the Earth below. She did not care for life nor its accoutrements of nourishment or companionship; she wished to return to the Goddess, to sit by her feet and bless the new arrivals in the city of the gods. The blessing of Dumuzid became a curse of decay; skin melting away, thirst only slaked by a handful of water from the lake. Day fell into night and Delah could only see the dark. Falling in an out of consciousness through sickness and grief, she lay on the floor cheek to the soil. It was in this state that the lady and her husband found her. There to deliver food, they stood talking in hushed whispers; urgent missive with the sharper from the wife. The husband sighed; carefully he lifted Delah into his arms, barely a burden in her diminished state. Cleaning Delah’s face with a piece of cloth, the wife muttered and they left the willow.

The sun was low by the time they reached their abode; their two children Atu and Emi rushed out to meet them when the figures became silhouettes against Utu’s diminishing grace. They had been anxious; it wasn’t like their parents to disappear. Atu, a boy of 13 reached them first ready with a tumble of questions before upon seeing Delah in his father’s arms, silenced. Emi, a young lass of seven with long brown curls ran to her mother, clasping hold of her leg. Her mother rested her hand on Emi’s head and gave her quiet words of reassurance. They were back and they had a visitor, someone very special who was very ill, so the children mustn’t bother her and let her recover in peace. Taking her into the hut, the father laid Delah gently before the hearth and lit a fire whilst the mother started preparing food, a simple porridge would have to suffice for this evening. As she cooked she sang in a low voice, humming and stirring the pot. The children sat near Delah staring at her with amazement; for she was unlike what they remembered. Gaunt of skin and bones clear in her face. The father sat near the fire warming his feet as the food cooked.

The heat and the smell of home cooking roused Delah from her slumber. She looked around confused and with trepidation until she recognised the family and the children. Looking upon Atu and Emi her niece and nephew, a tear left her eye and made its torpid way over the contours of her emaciated face. She silently prayed to Inanna and Dumuzid for release from the pain. The children gathered around her, hugging her tightly as she parlayed with the gods.

High above in the city of the young gods, Inanna was stood, majestic in the moonlight listening the anguish and despaired prayer. Her head stooped and tears fell from her beautiful eyes onto the gardens below.

Lilith at the height of her powers in the dead of the night also heard the plea of mercy. Smiling, she consented to Delah’s wishes and bowed gracefully.

To Chapter Fifty-Two – The Useless Coup

Picture from: http://ineedchemicalx.deviantart.com/art/The-Weeping-Willow-343110502