gold orb of light on grass
Photo by William Duggan on Unsplash

Gift from the Gods by Panchita Otaño

She awakes with a stirring—a change in the wind—salt, sweat, tears, and blood.

The stirring continues to churn, and she has no choice but to rise from her slumber. In a plume of clouds, she makes her way to the edge of the universe and finds she is not the only god awoken by the churning. She's reluctant to come closer, as the first time she'd seen this particular god, with his paler skin and eyes of the sea, destruction ensued for her people. To say she approaches cautiously is an understatement.

"Atabey." The god of the invaders speaks her name.

"Elohim," Atabey responds, joining him on the edge of the abyss. Below, they can see the world filled with those who worship them. The Taíh, her people, live outside the great wall, with tawny and sun-bathed skin and hair and eyes the same color as the rich earth. The invaders brought the others, those who live with the Taíh now, those who have skin like moist soil and curly hair. And then, she can see the ones who built the wall and hide behind it. The ones who look like Elohim. The ones who brought the pain, the conquistadores. It was his followers who brought death and destruction to hers before, and undoubtedly would do so again.

"Destruction is near once more," Elohim states with sadness. Atabey agrees, wary of Elohim.

"Where is Olorun?" she asks, finding it strange the god of those brought against their will has yet to arrive. His presence would help soothe Atabey.

"Elegua can send for him, perhaps," Elohim suggests, not taking his eyes from the world below, referencing the messenger of the god.

"No need. I am here." Olorun's voice booms from behind them, and he approaches in a similar shroud of clouds and mist. He peers over the void, narrowing his eyes with worry.

"Is it inevitable?" Olorun asks, sending prickles of dread down Atabey's non-existent spine. The darkness has consumed much of the world below, and it slithers closer to the fragile sanctuary, the last of the Isla Libre, the last island of freedom.

"Perhaps we should send for your daughter, Guabanecex, once more," Elohim suggests. Atabey shakes her head, knowing that this would destroy their people for good. The last time her daughter arose, chaos ensued. She summoned Juracán—the great storm that flooded the rivers and breathed air so strong that it almost decimated the entire island. Then, their people only survived because they had help.

"Last time they had Abey. They will perish without him now." Olorun’s expression mimics Atabey's. Abey was a child of both the Taíh and the Afro-Taíh. A child of both Olorun and Atabey. But he'd died long ago.

"If we do nothing, they will all perish." Elohim insists with great sadness.

"Then, we must create another. This time, a child of All." Atabey says firmly, her gaze pointedly on Elohim.

"It will be difficult—my followers have not been just. They have mistaken my words, and they will not learn from their mistakes." Elohim sounds and looks withered as he speaks, and Atabey understands the problem to be much, much worse. The god of hope looks hopeless.

"My followers have mostly forgotten me," Olorun says. It's a heavy burden to admit this for him. “But we must not give up on them," he finishes.

All three gods stare down at the gaping chasm with sorrow.

"We must give them one last chance," Atabey says. She will not abandon her people, but she also knows time is running out. Their children will need to stand together and survive, or stand apart and perish forever.

They each make a prayer.

Elohim reaches deep within his chest. His hand disappears right over his heart and pulls from his very being a tiny flicker of light.

"I will send to you, child of all, the virtue and conviction of humankind, so you may have a strong foundation that is moral, good, and everlasting." He drops virtue into the abyss, and for a moment, the entire world seems to flash with a blue light.

Olorun is next to reach within his soul, and the light he pulls from his being flickers from red to orange. "To our child, I send kindness and compassion for yourself and those around you." As Olorun's light drops to the earth, the world flares to life once more.

Atabey stares down for a moment, unmoving and unblinking. What could she send this child to ensure their path? Cleverness can outwit intelligence. Fanaticism can easily win over evidence and facts. Looks are deceiving and wither with time. Virtue, compassion, conviction—will any of it be enough? What do you gift the person meant to save humanity?

Atabey closes her eyes and reaches deep within her soul and to her very womb. The flickering light in her hand shines brightest as she extends it over the abyss.

"To our child, I give you the gift of life itself." And Atabey drops the orb onto a new, bright world.

Alma Vida was born just as lightning struck. She has her mother's skin, her father's eyes, and her great-grandmother's hair. She's a fussy baby, but her mother doesn't mind

To her, Alma Vida is perfect.


Panchita Otaño draws her inspiration from the lush green mountains and crystalline waters of her small, Caribbean island, surrounded by very big water (Puerto Rico). She likes to write fantasy and science fiction stories about strong female characters with a sprinkle (or an entire bag) of magical realism.

Author's note

It is not hard to say why my story found its home with Carmina Magazine. Written in big, bold letters, the submissions page states that stories with a mythological background, cultures, and time periods are welcomed. My story meets at the intersectionality of the mythological, an undeniable Caribbean-colonial past, and the knowledge that we are more than just one thing, but a combination of the stories that our grandparents tell and the rich history of our ancestors. Ultimately, "Gifts from the Gods" is a story of hope and life, as only a woman can gift.