The Day Before—Clark Humphrey
The Day Before—Clark Humphrey
The day before Harmony Day, the same-age cousins met at their usual after-school rendezvous, the alley behind the Burger King. Because neither they nor anyone from their ethnic community ever ate there, it was a place their respective parents would never think to look.
Turmera (school nickname “Tammy”) still wore the “normal American” clothes she’d worn at school. She hadn’t had the time to change into her “home” clothes.
“Still no idea about tomorrow?”
Her cousin Orix (school nickname “X-Man”) had shook his head.
“Absolutely no idea. None of the adults will talk about it, and none of the kids really know. Just the same guesses we’ve always heard.”
“So we’re just going into the adult version of Harmony Day for the first time. And we still don’t know what it is.”
“They showed me the costume I’m supposed to wear. But they wouldn’t tell me anything.”
“My parents were like that too. Mine’s just like my robe from Children’s Harmony Day. Except it’s got all this frilly lace stuff at the neckline, and there’s these skinny little slits up the sides, almost to my knees.”
“My robe’s like the one I had last year, except it’s this gross greenish blue color, and it has these weird designs all over it, like geometric patterns and shit.”
“I don’t get what the big deal is. It’s supposed to be our people’s great bonding ritual. But they won’t tell their own kids what it is.”
“Or anybody outside.”
“Yeah, or anybody who’s not ‘one of us.'”
“Well, I’ve heard everybody drinks this disgusting-smelling drink from the homeland. Then everybody trips out, like they’re on acid or E or both. And they crawl around on the floor and scream a lot, and it’s supposed to mean something somehow.”
“Nah. Just another kids’ rumor. You heard any guesses?”
“Like the version where they all squat down on the floor on mats, and bounce up and down?”
“And pretend they’re floating in the air.”
“Or the one where everybody gets into these two circles, all the guys in one and all the women in another, and they take turns kissing and groping each other?”
“Or the version where they get naked and all have sex, right in the temple room?”
Turmera turned away and closed her eyes. “That CAN’T be true! And if it is, I WON’T DO IT.”
Orix raised a hand out toward her. “Relax. It CAN’T be anything like that. Not with all the times they’ve hounded us that we’ve all got to stay ‘pure’ ’til we’re married. Even the guys.”
“My mom told me to never ‘do it’ years before she’d tell me what ‘it’ was.”
“As if there wasn’t an Internet.”
“Or kids in school who stole their dads’ DVDs. Which are COMPLETELY disgusting by the way.”
Orix nodded in at least tacit agreement. “So it can’t be THAT.”
Turmera opened her eyes and turned toward Orix again. “Thank the Deities! But we still don’t know what it is.”
“Eh, it’s probably just everybody singing and chanting shit in the old language, and telling stories, and repeating secret words, and promising to keep the old ways alive.”
“And promising not to tell the kids how boring it is, until they get to find out for themselves.”
They stood, shared a platonic hug, and walked back to their adjoining homes. Turmera headed straight to her room and changed into her “home” clothes, before her mother could see her.
Thirty hours after this conversation, Orix and Turmera were officially adult members of the temple.
And they were sworn never to tell children or outside people what happened on Harmony Day.
But that didn’t stop them from spreading some cool and/or gross rumors.