Surya refilled his teacup but didn’t sip. “So you want to address your fear first? Is that your choice?”
“Um. It feels deeper.” Everything felt so loose, so unfettered, sloppy, without my wrappings on. I shifted in my seat carefully, trying not to move my vile organs about. “Fear, I meant.”
“Perhaps it is just what you want to go away most?”
“I think that’s first.” I sat up and was able to relax a little. If I could put it all in terms that I could think about rather than feel about... If I could apply my mind to it, surely I had control over all of this? “I’m not sure why.”
“If you separate the emotions into the emotions of pleasure and the emotions of suffering, then fear is the emotion of suffering that underlies all the rest.”
I thought about it and couldn’t see any immediate solution. “So... what do I DO to get at this?”
He smiled at me and I felt my gut sink... “Go into what you are most afraid of.”
That meant... well... not just sleeping with someone... allowing my vilest organ to do what it wanted, to allow... I gulped a bit. I knew what was necessary. “To... have sex with someone willing.” There. I was able to just say it. “Surya... if you mean I need to find someone who will... I mean... a... sexual partner.... I don't know either who or how.” I couldn’t think of one person.
Of course he just came right back with “You want me to set that up for you?”
For a moment things went white at the thought. “No no no. Um... no...I... I...” I took a deep breath and he swam up out of the whiteness and gained colour again. I seized control of myself. “Gannara is like my brother... and he likes girls better anyway... and his torture involved my father so there might be enough resemblance to harm him...” I choked up.
“As I said,” Surya said. “Shall I set it up with a willing parnter?”
I was completely still, staring at Surya as if he were a wall about to fall on me. I managed to swallow and I started shaking again.
“You thought you had it licked already there for a bit, didn't you?” He sipped his tea, looking away for a moment, gently letting me seize control of myself again. I managed to nod.
“Not to worry. Chevenga and a lot of my other patients do that all the time. Take another deep breath. Whatever you think will work.” I didn’t dare open my mouth thinking that only random gobbling noises would emerge.
“What are you afraid will happen?”
“I'm afraid... I'm afraid the same will happen again.”
He set his teacup down once more. “You think you will harm the person you are having sex with? You are afraid you are a rapist?”
“Y... y... yes.”
“Tell me again, what happened.” I nearly collapsed in my chair but I’d promised I would try this. “As I said... I was twelve. My father insisted I use Chevenga... tortured to mindlessness... as... as... as... m... my first... sexual experience.” He was looking through and around me as I spoke.
“Yes. Your father insisted.”
He cut me off. “The first part of what you said, first. You punish yourself for the whole thing, but the key is in the first part of what you said.”
“My father... in... in...” I couldn’t say it. Rage came roaring up. Insisted was too gentle a word. “He... he... f...f...fff FORCED me. It was my father! He forced me.”
“Yes, exactly. He used Chevenga as a living puppet to force you. Truly, you can say that you’ve never touched Chevenga. Nor he you. Because he was just not there.”
“It wasn't him... it was my father...” The rage that shook me was enough to make my vision blur again and my breath speeded up, my hands were clenched. Weirdly, there was a surge of relief as well all tangled up in it.
He didn’t tell me to slow down my breathing. “If your father, wherever he is now, could hear you -- what would you want to say to him?”
What? If my father were here? What? The anger hurt less and didn’t cut into my gut the same way.
“I.... wouldn't say anything.” My hands were fisted in front of my face. “I... I’d want... to hit him, beat him to a pulp.” My eyes closed and I imagined the words. “How could you? How dare you?”
I was quivering, panting, restrained by a hair-thin strand of control, the way I had been facing 2nd Amitzas, years ago, pushed too hard, breath roaring in my ears. I distantly heard Surya say, “You see that cushion on that chair there?” My head swivelled around and it was an oversized cushion, with a button in the centre, stuffing bulging like my father’s cheeks. “That's his face. Let it out. Room's soundproofed... go wild.”
I could stare at him, then the cushion. I couldn’t. Not... just...
“Any questions?” His face was completely calm. He’d seen me cry why not this? I couldn’t I just... My rage was so big it would rip me apart, destroy me burn the city to the ground, boil the world... Endless... “Just see his face there. Looking at you the way he tended to look at you. Do what you want. Say to him what you want.”
It cracked wide open and I screamed myself hoarse, my hands pounding into into the overstuffed thing sinking to my wrists. I howled and cried and beat upon the feather and fabric, seeing my father’s face, bland and untouchable... making him see me, feel me, PAY ATTENTION PAY ATTENTION WAKE UP I’M HERE I’M ME I’M SEPARATE FROM YOU... Even as I went on and on and on somewhere in the back of my head I was amazed I hadn’t ripped the pillow apart. Thank the Gods I’d worked out hard this morning with Kallijas already and didn’t have much left. “...that’s ugly, that’s vile and evil and wrong and YOU YOU YOU did that to me...”
“I'm not part of you You couldn't make me, then and you can't make me into that now...” I heard Surya encouraging me.
“You tell him.”
“I'm myself. Not you No matter what you do, you can't make me into you! The Mahid couldn't make me into you 2nd Amitzas couldn't force me to be you No one can! No one, do you hear me? No one!” That was most of what I screamed before I lost words, roaring and raging like baby Ili.
Surya encouraged me every time I showed sign of slowing down until I lay completely exhausted, my face in the ruined cushion, my arms hanging down, on my knees, barely able to turn my head to the side to breathe, the ragged noise of my breathing was more like sobbing, clean tears, sobbing dry but still sobbing.
He gathered me up into his arms and held me, gently as a mother, gently as Binshala, as gently as the first time Chevenga held me... or Definas... or Gannara. I had so many people who loved me... Even though part of me felt surprised there was someone there who wanted to hold me, to help me. Did I deserve it? It didn’t matter. “That's what I've been afraid of... all these years... that somehow he'd succeed in making me into a copy of himself.” I whispered this into Surya’s chest, my voice ragged, barely there.
“Just be with the knowledge that he has failed,” Surya said quietly.
“I was afraid...that there was enough of him in me... but there isn't. He can't succeed and he's dead now. He can't succeed even through my own blood.”
“Exactly. Because blood does not make choices... this is what I was saying... choices are a thing of the spirit, and blood is material.”
I drew a deep breath. “And I deserve to be helped, healed. I’m allowed to accept help.”
“Exactly.” He held me. “Do you think you can walk out of here,” he asked me gently some time later, as I yawned. “Or should I call one of the palace chairs? Or you can just lie down here for a while. It is up to you.”
I managed to say “Chair please. Um... bill?” I was curled in his arms like a hurt child.
“Don’t worry. I’ll send the bill to you at the Marble Palace.” I barely remembered the swing and lurch of the chair and didn’t remember lying down in the bed at all.