coming into focus

Last night I expressed how I couldn’t see where the novel was heading. That’s an exhilarating feeling as it leads to so many surprises and it makes writing a learning experience, but, today, while I was showering, the shape of the novel began to weave together. I discovered my protagonists, which I didn’t really have. I wasn’t sure who this novel was about, or who it should be about, but I’ve discovered that the three women I named sort of haphazardly have grown into the novel. I can see their lives now and I know how to flesh this out, make it personal and whole. Before, it was a bit too abstract. A bunch of people talking about a place that I invented populated by invented people in an invented future, but now that I have a handle on these characters, it should begin to focus the writing more.

Here’s the newest chapter I just finished. Like all of my novels, the editing process is going to be largely about constructing the novel. Taking the chapters and finding their order. There’s a bit more of a linear progression here, but not much.

Anyrate, I’m very excited. Hopefully hitting 20k before I sleep.

I have food and wool socks and a new novel to read by a contemporary Mexican author and there’s another Korean crime film I’ll be watching later, so today’s going to be pretty nice.

Anyrate, next chapter:

The Deaths of Park Jiyun and Angel de Paz Pizarro share many similarities, but the dissimilarities highlight a significant difference between these two women. Few people know the full story of Park Jiyun’s Death whereas Angel de Paz Pizarro’ draws so many rumors it’s important that you hear how it actually happened.

No, I wasn’t there for either but I have the official report of both.

We’ll star with Park Jiyun.

The niños led her out to the Tree where they gathered in an enormous spiral. Veronique Velazquez stood about one hundred meters away. She described the scene as harrowing, but that’s a reflection. It’s important to recognise that this was a celebration and they believed they were honoring Park Jiyun. Few seem to understand that, even the many swarming anthropologists who help spread this nonsense that it was a malicious murder. The fact that Veronique Velazquez always affirms Park Jiyun’s smile should indicate this. Park Jiyun knew what was happening and she accepted it.

Why? Well, that’s a question that only she must know. Her and Angel de Paz Pizarro.

In ceremonial silk of black, woven from their unique spider population, she stood amidst the million or so niños. They sang and when the moment was appropriate, Park Jiyun disrobed, and the singing stopped to be replaced by an intense drumming. Upon the reveal of her flesh, the shaman approached, the drumming rising and rising, and then his voice broke through, loud and high, singing in altoniño. After a verse, Park Jiyun spread her arms and knelt before the shaman who took her face in his hands and bit into her breast, ripping away a mouthful of flesh. He turned to the many masks drumming and made a show of swallowing, the blood running down his chest as Park Jiyun remained kneeling, her breast ravaged.

At this point the shaman bit into her other breast as elders approached and began ritualistically eating her. The details become hazy here because of trauma to Veronique Velazquez’ mental state, but it’s clear that no tools were used in removing the flesh and limbs of Park Jiyun. It’s also significant that not everyone was allowed to bite into the flesh still connected to her body. Veronique Velazquez mentions how they offered her a morsel of flesh, still bleeding, and that’s where her story ends, at least in terms of the grisly details.

We know they chewed away the flesh and separated her limbs from her trunk and that they cleaned her bones, presumably with their mouths, and passed them around, adding to the percussion so necessary to this ceremony. They threw her innards through the branches, hanging as garlands, and they wore parts of her as decoration. Even covering themselves deliberately in her blood. The shaman, apparently, was literally covered in her blood.

It should be noted that there appears to be no end to the drumming. Throughout the ceremony a loud intense and fast beat persisted broken only by the shouting song of the shaman occasionally rising.

We believe they planted her heart beneath the Tree. This is significant, though we can only guess why. We believe that all the niños are buried beneath the tree when they die. There are a few reasons for this. One, there appears to be no gravesite anywhere in the city. And two, the concept of cycles, especially of seasons and plants, and their belief in eternal recurrence makes it reasonable that they would attempt to join this cycle upon dying.

In this way, they must have accepted Park Jiyun, at least at some level. She was not good enough to be buried whole beneath the Tree, but her heart, perhaps, rests there. As in all cultures, the heart represents the central aspect of the human, and it’s likely that they believe her soul, or whatever their concept of animation is, resides in the heart.

But the curious thing is that they ate her. Perhaps this is an initiation for them? A way to bring outsiders into the cycle. It’s also surprising and not understood why they planted two trees in her skull. We don’t know what kind of trees they are, but it would only make sense for them to be seeds from the Tree, as they appear to have no other trees native to them.

But why two? And why in her skull? And why did they want to give it to Veronique Velazquez?

It’s quite clear that they don’t trust the anthropologists. They may be primitive but they’re not stupid. They know who came to study them and who came to understand them. So though we may dismiss the women who fetishise the niños, they’re the only ones the niños allow into their social structures.

It’s significant that these women take part in their orgies. It’s unclear whether or not the niños have a sexual preference, but they seem to be rather bisexual. None of them, as far as I know, have baulked at having sex with a women, and we know, like us, they’re a homonormative society, albeit patriarchal.

But let’s talk about Angel de Paz Pizarro. Many more witnesses present for this, but the events happened almost identically, barring a few very significant details.

Angel de Paz Pizarro wore white, woven from moths. Why white and black? Why spiders and moths? This is a question for a later date. I don’t study their culture, except in an amateur capacity, but I’m sure someone will discover the importance of spiders and moths. The colors seem straightforward enough, representing the two colors most important to the niños. Their white skin and their black tattoos and masks. This would lead us to believe that duality is quite important to them, but it’s unclear whether they really believe in a soul or spiritual world. We call certain things their gods, such as dust, water, and the Tree, but that’s probably us pushing our prejudices upon them. They seem much more materialistic, finding their own environment and bodies sacred, to throw another of our words into their mouths.

But Angel de Paz Pizarro wore white and was led out in much the same fashion. Like Park Jiyun, this event pleased her and it’s obvious she considered herself to be validated by this experience. It’s also quite obvious that she knew what was going to happen. If anyone knew the niños, it was Angel de Paz Pizarro.

She threw off her gown and the shaman approached but the drumming stopped when he entered the clearing and rather than walk directly to her, he wandered round her in a circle and then climbed the Tree.

Angel de Paz Pizarro apparently frowned or at least her face betrayed some confusion but the shaman motioned her to follow so she did. Naked and awkwardly, she followed the shaman to the lowest branches where the climbing became easier as they became almost steps. Accounts differ on how high they went, but somewhere between twenty and one hundred meters high–and I’d guess much closer to twenty than one hundred–they stopped and faced the million gathered. The shaman’s voice came, low and sonorous and the million niños became a choir, their voices high and vibrant against the baritone of the shaman.

The shaman removed his mask.

This is extremely significant. It’s the first time we’ve known a niño to voluntarily remove his mask, and he did it in public. Of course, given the distance, no one saw his face, except Angel de Paz Pizarro. Without his mask, the shaman stopped singing but the million niños continued, their notes rising as a storm, their voices like waves battering the Tree. The shaman pulled out a handful of dust and threw it in Angel de Paz Pizarro’s face and then threw her from the Tree.

When her body his the earth, the singing stopped, and the shaman, now with his mask back in place, climbed down to her body and began eating her.

The only sound during the ceremony was the rain and the chewing of the shaman. No one else approached but after the shaman ate his fill, he passed her flesh to the others. Apparently some of Angel de Paz Pizarro’s followers even consumed her flesh that day. From there, the shaman separated her limbs and handed out her bones. He ate her brain and buried her heart beneath the Tree. They used her innards and organs and blood as decoration, like they did with Park Jiyun. Her skull also now carries two seeds, one for each eye. It’s unclear what they intend to do with the skulls and the trees but they won’t give them up to us anymore. From what we can tell, they will only tell us that they belong to another.

It’s significant that they ate her when she was dead. I don’t know why, but this difference matters. That she touched the Tree, too. That’s something unthinkable. We’ve had women living with them for over a year but none of them have ever been allowed to touch the Tree. So both of these women appear to have been given a high honor by the niños, but they’ve been given different honors, resulting in them both being the pots to new trees, as well as being buried beneath the Tree.

But that’s what we know.

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