The God-Making Girl
The tiny bus driver/tour guide stopped the noisy old bus, which in its sputtering seemed relieved for the rest. She climbed out of the driver's seat, straightened her olive drab uniform, pointed out the window and began her rehearsed speech:
"Inana realized early that it was easier to create new gods than to worship old ones. The old ones demanded sacrifices and had arbitrary rules of morality that seemed to always put the man on top, and to punish the woman for having the audacity to exist. What the people needed, she determined, were new gods, ones who fit their needs - even if that meant a different god for every single person. Or two for each person. There were, after all, an infinite number of gods - as many as she could conjure!"
The tour guide coughed and adjusted the microphone.
"When she was little, Inana and the other children played on the water's edge while their mothers rinsed the families' clothes in the river's cold rushing water. But not a single one of the other children could turn handfuls of sloppy clay into living birds like she could, and so from the beginning Inana was different.
"Inana, you mustn't let just everyone know about this power you have," her mother said, stroking Inana's dark hair.
"I know, Mama," Inana said to stop her from talking, and laid her little head in her mother's lap.
When she was 12, Inana accidentally killed a playmate (well, maybe not so accidentally...) by pushing him off a roof. When the crowd gathered around to weep and wail over the dead child, she laughed and placed her body fully and (so the people thought) rather indecently on top of his, pressed her warm mouth against his cold one, and breathed into him her air. He sputtered to life and pushed the giggling girl off him.
"Inana, I must lock you in your room if you proceed to do these magical things!" her father said, with his head in his hands.
To get them to leave her alone, she agreed to knock it off.
But it didn't stop her from making gods.
"Mrs. Urdu!" When she was 15, she approached the matriarch of a local clan in the marketplace.
"Yes, Child?" she didn't know Inana, the daughter of a family of wallas.
"I understand the old gods have let your family down. Your eldest daughter is married but can't get pregnant, and your husband is a drunk." The older woman looked away.
Inana sought out Mrs. Urdu's eyes. "It's true, you know it is." She touched the older woman's arm softly, flinched as she felt the pain radiate from her bones.
"You need a new god. Or two. I can help you." She whispered, and spirited the woman away to the little mud chapel she'd built for the new gods.
The clay figures she offered the rich came to life when Inana breathed on them, which happened when she was paid. The purchasers were thrilled to have such personable little gods to hold, to interact with, and soon Inana was rich.
"I can give you new gods, Mother and Father, but I can't stay here anymore." She bought her worried parents a mansion, and never spoke with them again.
As for Inana, she built herself a castle, and made gods large and small for every little thing. Want a "no balding goddess"? a "souffle no fall god"? Inana had them in spades. All you had to do was pay her.
For years, she was "Inana the God Maker," and her gods were all the rage. But first one god, then another started ordering its worshippers to do things that were...objectionable (ie, "I don't like that clay god. Kill its people.") and things began to unravel.
It was Mrs. Urdu's family god, the first one Inana created, who led the crusade against Inana and her castle."
Here the tour guide stopped, and...was that a tear in her eye?
"The new gods tore Inana to bits. And so it is now that they have dominion, and until another god making girl - or boy - comes along, we are stuck with them. At this time we ask that you leave the bus and make your donation to the new clay gods on the site of Inana's massacre. Thank you for your time."
The tiny woman returned to her captain's chair and, with a bit of difficulty, started the old bus.
About the author:
Leah Welborn writes and lives in Denver with a small menagerie of animals. Her work can be found in several online and print journals and magazines. She holds an MFA from Antioch University in LA.