An Anasazi Story by Jeff Posey.
Outside the house where his wife shrieked in pain, Pok paced. He wanted it to be over. He wanted to hold his son, his new warrior.
The shrieks stopped and he stood still. A breeze whispered through the trees, and the footsteps of Koko crunched as he carried something to the Sky Chief, the father of Pok’s wife, who even on this night preferred to stare at the sky from his circle of stones while his grandson came into the world. What Pok did not hear were the cries of a newborn.
He went onto the roof and climbed down the ladder, holding his breath as he passed through the smoke rising from the fire in the hearth, and once inside, with only the wan light from the failing fire, he saw the albino midwife he didn’t trust and his wife looking at a thing that seemed impossibly small and still.
“What is that?” Pok asked.
“It’s your son,” said his wife. “It has no spirit. The gods are not happy with you.”
Pok felt anger rise. He loved his anger. It’s what gave him power over others. He’d learned long ago that everyone backed down from his anger, and the more freely he loosed it, the more he got what he wanted from the world. Anger had become his personal god, an alter-ego to the perpetually mild Plumed Serpent god, who gloried in butterflies and flowers like some doe-eyed adolescent girl romancing the world.
He leaned close to the lifeless body and inspected it, his lips pulled tight, fists clenched. A boy, no doubt. But it had no fat and looked like a stick-child, its head too large for its body, its hands like tiny curled spiders. A roar erupted from him in an orgasmic shudder. The white-haired midwife cowered, hands crossed over her face, but his wife continued to look at him as if this were his fault.
Pok felt uplifted by his anger. He kicked the midwife hard in the stomach, then again in the face, hearing a crunch of bone. He pulled everything from the walls, smashed the pottery, scattered the Sky Chief’s sacred stones, then turned on his wife, still watching him in that calm way she’d inherited from her father. The time had come to show her. He grabbed her by the hair and dragged her off the birthing mat. She grunted and fought him.
“If you cannot give me a better son than this, then there is no use for you in this world.” He put his foot between her legs, pulled her head back with her hair, and kicked her toward the fire. He lowered her face-down into the fire and she jerked and flailed. Her screams, not unlike birthing screams, filled the house. When he smelled searing flesh and her body rattled and trembled, he shoved her face fully into the coals and stepped hard on the back of her head, holding her down. The stench, he thought, smelled lovely.
He looked around the quiet room, the silence broken by a faint pop, followed by gurgles and a choking sound. He thought the midwife was coming to, but then the sound turned into the unmistakable cry of a baby, only weak and small, not like a normal child.
He picked it up and held it in his hand, its lolling head resting on his fingers and its legs bouncing on his forearm.
“You are less than nothing,” he said, the beautiful rush of anger draining away from him.
He climbed the ladder one-handed, walked to the edge of the cliff, and tossed it into the trash pile below. Then he looked around and felt a deep sadness, a sliding down, as if he were losing consciousness. Hoping no one saw, he climbed down a steep, little-used path, and lost himself in the darkness.