The daily act of gathering water from the well was an opportunity to put on a show, and Aliah did not miss it. She arrived in her finery, with bangles reflecting the sunlight, calling the eye to her slender wrists. This morning she was rewarded with a small audience of townsmen who smiled wistfully as she hauled up the water. She took the full bucket and carried it with exaggerated difficulty as she called out to the temple priest. “I don’t suppose you are going to help me with this heavy load today?”
“You seem strong enough,” he called back. “But why don’t you ask one of your admirers for help?”
“Aren’t you one of my admirers?” She asked, smiling slyly.
“Who couldn’t find perfection in your form is a blind man.” He intoned. She curtsied as well as she could under the weight of the bucket and continued toward home, thinking ‘dirty old man.’ But he came out from the shade to follow her.
“Aliah,” he began, “I have been meaning to speak to you about your future. You must know your family’s prestige as well as your beauty make you an excellent candidate for the higher realms of the order. Were you to be selected as one of the guardian priestesses, your prospects for marriage would be even greater after your year of service.”
“You know I have only one interest in the Door,” she answered. “I don’t want to serve a year for it either.”
“Aliah, child” he answered, “you must not play with such powerful things. We serve the Door, it does not serve us.”
“That’s not true!” She said angrily. “Everyone knows that a qualified entrant with a true heart can gain much! I want to enter the threshold and become immortal!”
“Aliah, you would make a fine priestess, and would have the attention and adoration of all of the town, not to mention the highest honor, conferred by myself.” His eyes gleamed as he looked at her greedily.
“Ha!” She scoffed at him. “I want immortality so I don’t grow old and fat like you! I certainly don’t want to play around in the temple alcoves with you and the old men of town! I know what you get up to with the new priestesses.”
The men who had gathered let out a great laugh at this impertinence.
“Is that so,” he said, suddenly calm. “If you truly believe that to be the case, I shall help you. Leave your water bucket and come with me.
She followed him into the temple excitedly, and they walked through the long hall as the priests and priestesses gawked . At the entrance to the Door, he called up to the giant statue “Hak im penetritatik! El been ep la koti lot men ik!”. The statue nodded her head once. He turned to Aliah, and commanded “Go in, I have made your request!”. She passed through the enormous door craning her neck at the statue as she passed. The moment she entered the chamber, she began to grow. It was excruciating, and frightening and she called out, but it was too late. Within moments, she was of equal height to the statue. She returned to the entrance and called down to him, “What has happened?”
“You have a true heart,” he answered. “You are truly conceited and cruel.” You shall assist the statue guardian of the Door, but be glad, for you shall maintain your beautiful form for eternity.” Horrified, she looked down, as her body slowly transformed to stone.
Created for Google+ group weekly writing exercise Click to see original exercise.
Inspired by the image: Image: Door of Luxor by Te Hu