I sat inside the main hall of the temple. Outside, people were reveling in the streets. It was new year’s, the biggest party of the year.
I wasn’t celebrating. I was sitting on the floor of an empty temple to the mother goddess Lunen, trying to figure out why. The gods were dead. Priests claimed some were being reborn in mortal bodies, but was that real? People made things up all the time.
Maybe the gods themselves were made up.
Made up to justify so many things in the world.
The gods could never have been real. I’m sure I’m crazy for thinking it, yet it was all I could think of as I stared at the large statue. Sitting there with my hands raised in prayer, I was the image of the most devoted follower. Everyone would be horrified if they knew the truth.
But her face was burned into my mind. Her last smile before letting herself be taken in my place. Her last hug and the whispered words to be strong. Not that she loved me. Not that she would miss me. Just be strong. Not the words of a mother lovingly sacrificing herself for her child.
I wasn’t her child, though. I always knew that, but it never occurred to me that she might not love me like a real mother until that dirty man said it. No woman is capable of loving a child that isn’t her’s he said. I didn’t want to believe him, but the feeling gnawed inside me.
Now I feel empty. Was it all a lie? Was she putting on an act of loving me? Were her last words the first time she let her real self show, or was that an act?
Was this all a joke of some dead god?
If the gods existed at all, that is.
You think I’m deranged. I can’t explain this sense of doubt.
Letting my hands fall to my sides, I stare at the floor around the statue. It is covered with offerings to the goddess. I have none. There would be no point. I have nothing to offer, and even if I did, she would do nothing for the hunger in my belly.
Hugging my knees, I looked up at the beautiful statue.
I miss Mom.
But more than that, I miss the thought that she really loved me.