This is an excerpt from Rivera Sun’s novel, The Dandelion Insurrection, featuring a moment when Zadie Byrd Gray commits to being a love-motivated changemaker and living up to her inner potential. Find the whole novel here.
That afternoon, Zadie’s mother had delivered an ultimatum to her girl.
“There is a whole new way of life just waiting to be born,” she had said. “It is standing on the threshold of reality, begging for a mother.”
It hung out there in the night sky as visible as the stars. Ellen had seen it. As soon as her words curled around the notion, the nebulous shape took form.
“This country is ready to be reborn. Something fresh and new is fomenting in the fertile crumbling of the old. Compassion, connection, collaboration, and clean environments churn impatiently in the ethers. Bring them in, Zadie. I know you can.”
Mothers stand on the bedrock certainty of births. Ellen had carried Zadie as a part of her own life’s blood for nine months and delivered her into the world kicking and screaming. Ellen read her daughter like a book; corners turned down and favorite passages underlined with the pencil marks of memory. She knew, beyond a doubt, that Zadie could bring a world of change to this country, powerfully, swiftly, and without hesitation . . . if she chose to do so.
Zadie leaned on the doorframe of Tucker’s back porch watching the moths and mayflies dart in dizzy circles around the lamp. She snapped the switch off, releasing the poor insects from their frantic lust for light. The night’s depth climbed the porch steps and curled up against the curtained windows. As her eyes adjusted, stars emerged across the black expanse. She sat down on the porch steps and let the worn wood press against her, cool and firmly reassuring. Her uncertain heart thudded frantically in her chest. The child of an idea waited breathlessly for her answer.
Show me, Zadie thought, show me what you are.
Truly? the looming concept replied.
Yes, she answered firmly.
All of me?
It hesitated. Zadie sensed that whatever hung out there hoping for her acceptance drew back in concern that its truth would not set her free; it would send her running away in terror. Zadie felt a fire rise within her. Women who stood up to become mothers of nations often died in the process. History attested to that. Zadie wanted stark clarity about this creature asking to be born. There could be no holding back. No flirtatious games of hide and seek. No presentations of little cherubs or perfect angels. She demanded to know the mysteries that other mothers can only guess.
Show me who you are! she commanded fiercely.
It gathered like the breath of a tsunami. A flicker of fear touched her gut. Enormity amassed. Without warning, reality cracked open and split the night down the middle. Light so bright it defied the eyes blasted through Zadie’s body. She was blinded and deafened as Love roared from the depths of the universe. This was not the love of pink valentines and pecks on cheeks. This was a blazingly fierce and painful force that raked its talons through the soul and sliced all nonsense into shreds. This Love tore open the body of reality, splitting the pumping heart of blood and aortas and vascular chambers like an obstacle to truth. Death came and went, passed by as inconsequential. Thoughts of religion withered before its blaze. Notions of race and class hid themselves in shame, crying, we are nothing, we are nothing, we are nothing to the greatness of this Love. Zadie screamed in silent agony or ecstasy, there was no telling which. Words formed within the soundless roar of Love.
I was here before the Universe. I will remain when all is gone. I am coming to walk the Earth again . . . inside every human form.
Zadie died. She resurrected. She died again. She returned. Some tiny strand of sanity shuddered. Truth began to tear apart her being. She could not hold on much longer.
The last message shot out from the infinite.
Love is coming back to Earth . . . get ready.
And then it was gone.
Zadie sat shaking on the steps of Tucker’s porch. The black fabric of the night hung still and silent. One woman cannot be the mother of that, she thought in awe. Never in a thousand years. We are not designed to be the vessels for that power. Zadie wrapped her arms around her torso, feeling the frailty of ribs and skin. She breathed deeply, shivering. She could not carry all of that. It would take all of us, Zadie thought; every single person must be the mother of this vision. Suddenly, she froze. Each gleaming star in the sky sharpened into crystalline clarity.
She was not meant to be the mother of this nation . . . she was being asked to be the midwife to its Love.
An excerpt from Rivera Sun’s novel, The Dandelion Insurrection. Find reviews and copies here.