This fills the “exhaustion” square in the January Bingo Card.
This is either a different branch of The Aunt Family or an earlier/later line.
This was not, generally, a quick process, and in her case, it was further complicated by any number of problems.
The first problem was, of course, the simple physical act of dying. The family to which the Aunts were adjunct was, by virtue of their nature, a particularly hearty lot, and they did not grow frail quickly or easily. Olianda’s spirit was tired – weak, one might say – long before her flesh stopped being willing.
At one hundred and seventeen, she was finally ready to die, body and soul.
Now, she had to convince the family to let her go, the house and its attached role to release her, and her successor to take up the mantle.
“Aunt Olianda.” The woman holding Olie’s hand was the daughter of her niece’s daughter, but in this family, ‘Aunt’ was always the appropriate honorific. “Please don’t go. I don’t know what we’ll do without you.”
“You’ll thrive, of course.” Her voice was barely a squeak anymore. “You’ll be fine. Enid – you are Enid, right?”
“Yes, yes, I’m Enid.” The girl blinked at her. “I only have brothers, you know.”
“And you’re pregnant, which was a swift move on your part. Child, tell your children this – they cannot make you take the role. No matter how long they push, how hard they complain, the role is the role.” She patted the girl’s arm. “You’re safe, besides. Brett will be my successor.”
“I know. Now be a dear and give me a hug. Your Aunty is tired and wants to rest.”
She waited until the girl was out of the room. ::You understand?:: she asked the house.
The house rumbled in reply. A cupboard creaked. A statue shifted.
::I have been training seven of them as long as they have been alive. You will not be alone.::
The house groaned again. It needed more reassurance.
::Besides… I will be here with you.:: And Brett would take the mantle gladly, once she understood.
The house settled. Olianda closed her eyes.
In the house, in the neighborhood, in the county, in the world, her family sighed, absorbed the loss, and shifted the power amgonst themselves. Seven heirs felt the strength touch them, and stretched, and took it in. The house cradled the consciousness, the family the power, the world her spirit, until all that had been Olianda was exhausted.
Olianda, having done what she must, died, and the era of a new Aunt began.
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