She woke, breathing hard. It was the third week running that she’d had the same dream. She could no longer deny that it was a true dream.
In the morning, Portia went to the elders hut. “Greetings, most honoured ones,” she bowed politely to the elders. “I have had my true dream.”
“Come closer, child,” beckoned one of the elders. “You are what age now?”
“Fifteen summers,” Portia replied.
“Your true dream comes late for you. Most girls have their true dream by their fourteenth summer. Tell me about your dream. Start with your guide.”
Portia swallowed hard, this was why she’d left the dream twice over. “My spirit guide is a chipmunk,” she whispered.
The elders looked at each other. “The spirit guide symbolises who you are meant to be. The owl is wisdom. The wolf is loyalty. The eagle is freedom. The deer is serenity. But…” he paused. “We have no knowledge of what the chipmunk symbolises. Are you certain, child?”
“Yes, elder. I am certain. For the past three weeks, the chipmunk has visited my dream. And each time, it says the same thing.”
Portia told the elders exactly what the chipmunk had told her.
“That at least is clear. You say that the dream started weeks ago? Why did you not tell us?”
“I was,” Portia sighed. “I was hoping that it wasn’t my true dream. I wanted to dream…” she stopped. Portia was embarrassed by her true desire.
“You wanted to dream that you were to marry Hactef, did you not?” asked a female elder. “Your feelings toward him have been noticed.”
Portia nodded. “I had hoped.”
“Hopes do not engender the dreams. You should have come to us sooner, child,” the elder chided gently.
“I know. I am sorry, elders.”
“We will have to prepare you for your journey. Are you ready to begin?”
Portia’s eyes widened as she slowly nodded. “Today is your day of fasting. Tomorrow is the day of cleansing. Then we have the feast.”
One of the elders came forward. “Come, child. I will take you to the place where you will fast.” They left the hut of the elders. Portia knew the way to the special hut as well as any in the tribe. But her steps were as slow as the elder would allow, the reality of having her true dream recognised wasn’t what she’d hoped for.
The special hut was set aside for any of the rituals of the tribe. It was isolated from the rest of the huts.
“Mediate or sleep. Someone will bring you food to break the fast when it is time.”