Touli walked up to the door with a quirky smile and rapped once, rubbing her temple anxiously. Honey came to the door in a bronze leotard beaming with childlike pride.
“Did you get it?!”
“I did.”
“Well?”
“Sonziwe Lamak”
“What’s that?”
“That’s his name, and he will bear five seeds for us. Amit, Sult, Jaz, Dolf and Flunie.”
“Yes, but where is the flower?”
“She didn’t give it to me Honey. She said it’s in your belly.”
“Oho.”
Honey rubbed her belly and glared at Touli mischievously. Satisfaction spread across her smile as she made circles around her navel with her forefinger. Kneeling down, Touli kissed her at the center of the imaginary circle she’d been making, her finger stopping only to allow the interruption, then continuing.
“Honey, will they bloom in time?”
Honey placed her hand on Touli’s heart and listened with her hand for a while. The thud of her heart would quicken when it was time for the flowers to press through Honey’s navel. At the time of Bearing, an opening would appear at her navel through which they could remove the poui.
“This is confusing at first isn’t it?!”
“Yes.”

Honey had birthed the poui before and could bear it alone but wanted to find a way to share the experience with Touli. Ma Belle, the village pundit, knew about these things so she sent Touli to her.

Ten miles and countless footsteps later, she entered Ma Belle’s yard, an unfenced property, clean as ever, with a front porch that seemed larger than the house it wrapped around. Seeing her approach, Ma Belle curtly put her hands up signalling her to stop and called her name. “Touli! “Your desires will be pronounced and impregnated.” Shocked into silence, Touli stared blankly at her, until she waved her hand dismissively, motioning that Touli should leave.

As Touli walked away she shouted after her, telling her the name of the poui, those of the five seed it would bear and announcing that Honey had already conceived.

“Could I not have saved myself this anti-climactic walk then?” Touli mumbled.

Back at the house, she and Honey waited the three long weeks as the poui bloomed. Honey seemed to be blossoming as well – becoming more transparent and compassionate in this Bearing…her third. On the Day of Expectation, Touli scented her with extracted poui musk and they sat side by side facing the open window, allowing the sun and breeze to freely filter through. The uneven and erratic heartbeat that Touli had grown accustomed to was now a wild thumping, so she laid herself out on the floor in front of Honey, cold sweating and nauseous.

Honey’s eyes were closed and she was trailing that circle again. The skin at her navel slowly pushed back farther and farther, as Touli stared up in silence. As it slowly revealed itself, Touli could see the flower inside a clear sac pressed against Honey’s insides.

“Honey?”
“Mmmm..” she drawled.
“It’s done.”

She opened her eyes and looked down, grabbing one of Touli’s forefingers and pressing it into the sac. Although firm, it popped with a slight ‘pffing’ sound, and once the air got inside, wilted away.

Honey looked at the poui and smiled “Yes, it’s done.”

– janberry

(A short story reimagining the origins of the Poui, inspired by poui season.)

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