“Set Fire to the Rain”

2011 © All Rights Reserved

Prologue

September 16, 1993

     Seventeen and alone.  It was dark and it was raining. The clothing Amari had worn  was just a little more than rags and she was soaked clean down to the bone.  Her conditions were miserable and she was in pain, but her only concern was for the safety of the child that she carried in her stomach.  Her baby girl was coming.  Coming right now into this cruel world whether Amari was ready for her or not.

     “Ow, Ow….Oowww,” she whined pitifully while squatting by a stump when another pain struck her unaware. “Breathe Amari,” she reminded herself barely above a whisper, “Breathe.”

     Her breaths were now coming in short pants as she tried to remain calm and count her way through the next contraction.  They were coming closer together and getting stronger by the minute.  Amari started to feel an insurmountable amount of pressure bearing down and she knew that it wouldn’t be long before her baby girl made her initial debut.  

     The sound of dogs barking was growing louder and had Amari looking behind her, cursing knowing that the soldiers were getting closer.  They were gaining on her and there was no way that she could let that happen.  Not until she was able to birth her baby and get her to safety.  Amari swore that she wouldn’t let them take her baby girl, not as long as she had breath in her lungs or a drop of blood left in her body.  She wouldn’t give them a chance to even lay a finger on her.

     Knowing that she needed to get moving she made an effort to stand up and took a deep breath in preparation.  She had to use the stump beside her to force herself into an erect position.  It was imperative now that she find a safe place to have her baby, away from the soldiers and away from the dogs and even more than that she was also well aware that time was definitely no longer on her side.

     “Come on Amari, you can do this.  You have to do this,” she told herself more determined now than ever while forcing her feet to trudge forward.  She had only gone no more than five feet when the next contraction suddenly struck her.

     “Damn!” She fiercely cursed holding on to her stomach.  Amari  made a move to squat down again and made her self breathe through the contraction.   Digging her hands into the mossy soaked ground she squeezed with everything that she had in her as the pain reached it’s peak.  

     “One, two, three…” Amari forced her self to count aloud until the pain finally started to recede.

     Feeling so helpless she could only look up to the night sky and let the rain wash away the hot tears from her face.

     “Please, if there is truly a higher being out there, please help me,” she pleaded aloud.

     Suddenly a sharp crack of lightning flashed in the sky illuminating the forest around her.  Everything that was black was not outlined with the bright white light of the lightning strike.  

     She dropped her head and wanted to weep.  Amari’s prayers had been answered.   A cave just feet from her appeared as pretty as you please and in that second she knew that was going to be the birthplace for her child.

     Her head suddenly whipped back around when another round of terrifying barks and snarls reached her ears signaling the that the dogs were hot on her tail.  There was no more time, she had to move and she needed to do it now.  Without thinking Amari used what strength she could muster and crawled towards the cave.       

     Breathing heavily and utterly exhausted she collapsed in the safety of the cave. Another contraction began and Amari had to bite into the sleeve of her shirt to stop from screaming aloud.  They were still out there, after her, after her baby and the smallest of noises could possibly give them away.  The safety of Amari and her child depended solely on her.

     “Oh, dear Jesus.“  Amari muttered to her self.  “She’s coming, ready or not she is coming.”

     Amari placed her back against the cave and brought her knees to her chest.  She opened her legs wide and concentrated on bringing her precious baby girl into the world. The one that she had worked so tirelessly for the last nine months to conceal, the time had finally arrived.  

     Amari patiently awaited for the next contraction and when the familiar pains started she took in deep breaths.

     It hit her like a wrecking ball.  The pain started and she gritted her teeth and pushed…..and pushed again before stopping to take a much needed breath.

     Breathing in deeply Amari rested her head against the back of the cold cave wall and waited for the next contraction.

     She didn’t have to wait long, it hit and instinctively she bared down as hard as she could.  She could feel the warm slide of the baby’s head emerge from her body and that was all the momentum that she needed.

     Amari held her breath once again and pushed with everything that she had left in her.  She could feel the sweat dripping down the center of her back as she worked furiously to bring her first born daughter into this world.  The payoff was immense.  She felt the rest of the baby’s small body slide out and easily caught the baby girl in her own arms.  

     Amari used the hem of her shirt and worked to clean the baby’s face.   When the first cry escaped her small pink lips Amari quickly placed the babe to her breast. She couldn’t take the risk that the soldiers could hear her newborn cry and finding them.  Not now, not after they had come so far.

     The babe sucked away like a champ.  As she fed at Amari’s breast, Amari tore away extra material from the bottom half of her dirt splayed skirt to swaddle the child.  She was starting to feel the exhaustion of the running and the birth pulling her under.  She stared down into the mystic blue eyes of her baby girl in awe of the tiny miracle that she had just produced.

     It was hard to fathom that out of an act as horrible as rape that a beautiful angel could be born.  And she was so beautiful Amari thought as she looked deep into her baby’s blue eyes.  She let her fingers lightly caress the babes pink cheeks and then rub gently over the brown dampened locks pressed against the top of babe’s head.

     As she watched her, Amari realized that the babe was studying her in turn.  She knew, the babe understood that she was special.  Her birth had a higher purpose in life.

     “Hope,“ Amari said aloud.  “We will call you hope my dear sweet child." 

     For several long minutes Amari just sat and watched her sweet angel.  As time passed her eyes grew heavy and trodden.  She fought to keep them open but it was all for naught.  Pulling her daughter closer to her chest  she decided that an hour of rest wouldn’t hurt.  Just an hour she thought as she let the darkness finally pull her in.

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     Amari awoke to the sound of birds singing their morning melodies and a ray of sunlight  shining brightly on her face.  She slowly opened her eyes and looked down to see bright blue eyes staring inquisitively back at her.  The chaotic events of the night before suddenly rushed back causing Amari to shiver.

     Knowing what was necessary Amari carefully started to peel back and see if her babe did in fact bear the mark that the special forces wanted.  She started with the babes fingers and lightly traced her arms.  So far, there was no mark.  She removed more of the blanket to reveal the babe legs and was met with nothing but creamy white skin.

     Letting out a long sigh she carefully lifted the baby and turned her over and there it was.  As plain as day.  The mark of the lyric tattooed on the back of her babes neck.  It was beautiful, an orange sunburst outlined in a teal circle.  It was also the mark that could condemn her to a life of misery if the special forces ever found out about her existence.

     Amari closed her eyes and brought the babe she now called Hope back to her chest.  Seeing the mark she now knew what she had to do.  She had to give her to someone so that the special forces would never find her.  They would want her now to mold and train as one of their own and they wanted her so they would be able to exploit her for the powers that she would gain after her eighteenth birthday.

     Amari knew because she also bore the Lyric mark and lived a life of hell as the special forces tried to make her do things that she wanted no part of.  Death and evil is what they expected of her without any feelings or thought. They treated her like a machine and Amari refused to let her daughter experience any of it.