Dear Goddess, what have I done? Selinae forgive me. I’ve sinned in so many ways. I was drunk, I was herbed, I have no excuses. It felt so good. It felt… I’ve never felt anything like that before. She offered to show me... Fara… she… I’m supposed to be afraid of the dark races, did she corrupt me? Set my feet on the road to Hayel?
The Haian… the Haian is dark but the Fenjitza said that what the Haian did… as painful as it was, as debilitating as it was… it hurt when I woke up but only a tiny bit compared to when… when I was purified. Purified. The Fenjitza said… she even said the Fenjitzas used to not do purifications properly because it hurt girls too much… she said I needed to speak to him.
Goddess. Goddess. It felt so good. It felt like a wave washed over me and it was wonderful and warm and lifted me out of myself. How can that be sinful? How can that be wrong? Do men feel that too? No wonder they do it so much and think about it so much.
I don’t understand why they would want that feeling while ugly things are happening in front of them, like the sex boys in the Mezem, or like what the old Imperator did. If he felt that when he executed someone… ew. That… that would be a sin.
Gannara is nice even though his hair and eyes are dark… I like him, he likes me. He would never hurt me. He likes… even loves Minis. I didn’t realize he loved him quite that way but… Minis liked it. Gannara had this look on his face as though he were seeing something amazing… then Farasha had her fingers on me…
On my nipples and we were kissing and watching the boys and then she touched me right between the legs and I was able to feel her touch me, deep inside the folds that the Haian opened. And then the wave came just before the boys cried out.
I stood in the Temple, watching the seals being transferred to Kallijas’s hands. If there are no paintings of this afterwards, Arko has no imagination. My fan wafted slightly cooler air before my face. I could feel myself blush and pale alternately even as the ceremony continued, wanting desperately to hide from the Goddess’s stone gaze but I couldn’t or mama would realize something was wrong, something was bothering me.
Today I was not flouting the old dress style and the layers of dress and under dress and petticoats and underthings hung as oppressively hard on my shoulders as my thoughts and my worries hung on my mind. The difference was that I was suddenly aware of the feeling between my legs, the slipperiness and heat there. Not just sweat. I found herself wondering what uncut women felt.
How can they get anything done if they are more sensitive than I am here? They’d rub themselves at every step! Oh, Goddess I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Is that wrong? The herb made me relax… and I breathed it in of my own will.
The pehaka… tasted so good and I went… there. Where sex was not only possible but easy. Fun. Goddess why am I made that way if it is wrong, or a sin?
I always liked that hymn. My Refuge… Are women supposed to deny themselves those feelings? Is it a temptation? Is that why it is sinful? But that is so cruel. Farasha is so free. She’s dark… she’s not fair like an Arkan… but she’s one of my best friends. She’s easy to work with. She’s very practical. Goddess…
I closed my fan and there was no room for the crowd to kneel for the prayer so I raised my hands to my temples, pressed hard against Mama on the one side and trying not to elbow Nuninibas in the head on the other.
“… For Thine is the Power
The Glory and the Dominion.
Today, Tomorrow, Forever and Ever. Amen.”
I found tears welling up and standing in my eyes. Goddess. I… will try to speak to a dekina afterwards. I have to. I just have to speak to someone about this and mama would be horrified. She’d probably lock me in my room with only water for a week, to fast for my sinfulness.
“Mama,” I said quietly as the crowd began streaming out of the Temple, the slow, conversational shuffle as the mass of people inched their way to the doors. “I’d like to stay and pray a while. I’m overcome with it all.”
“Oh, of course dear. I’ll leave Kialli as your attendant. May we go, my son?”
“I wanna go play with Ili, mama. He said he wanted to… and Ailadas said he’d have an interesting project for us when the ceremony was done. So, Bilabas can walk me over and you can go home.”
“Lovely idea. Thank you.”
Kialli laid mama’s shawl upon her shoulders and moved to stand ready to hold my wrap or my fan should I wish it and we waited for the crowd to clear, though it would not entirely. Others like me were staying behind to pray, or sing or stand in the light before the statue of their God or Goddess. A fair number of people were standing in the centre, or slowly walking the tile pattern in to the centre of the Kahara spot… the Espiritas Efa.
I waited until the floor was mostly clear and the sun was slanted throught the roof before I walked toward Selinae. I couldn’t raise my eyes above her skirts, her knees. I sank to my knees and put my hands up but when I did, my mind stopped working. I sank back on my heels and just let the feeling of dread roar through me. Perhaps this was my just punishment for having done… having enjoyed…
I sat, until a hand touched my shoulder. “Serina Kyriala,” the Fenjitza, Narilla, said quietly. That was when the tears started running down my cheeks, though I set my teeth on a sob. It just would not do to show unseemly emotion.
“Come…” I got up blindly, wiped my wet face discretely with one of my handkerchiefs and just as blindly handed it to Kialli to tuck away to be washed later. “You may stay here and pray while I speak privately to your mistress,” she said to Kialli.
Narilla led me to a tiny room behind the Goddess statue that I had never seen before and sat me down on an overstuffed chair and put a mug of kaf laced with cream and sugar, straight into my hands. “What’s wrong?”
“I…I…” I started hiccupping and crying at once. “I’m… frightened that… I’ve… sinned.”
“I will be able to tell you for sure if you have or have not, Kyriala.” Somehow her silver mask was easier to look at than a naked face and her eyes and mouth were warm, even with the edges of ruined skin showing. For her, the full face mask was not oppressive but a mercy. “Drink your kaf and dry your face and tell me.”
So matter of fact. So straight forward. She had seen so much pain, and was the expert on sexuality in Arko, since the House of Masks had turned out to not be the brothels everyone thought they were… or not merely brothels. I sipped and managed to catch my breath and sipped again. “I… well… Minis and Gannara and Farasha and I… well… we… last night...” She waited, quietly, hands folded in her lap. “At the party Farasha and I talked and she said we women should probably take the initiative with the boys or they would be dancing around the idea of marriage until we all fell over dead…” She smiled at that, but didn’t interrupt me. “I thought… since the three… um sleep together and have a healer helping the boys with… with their… sexuality…” I managed to spit that out and had another sip of kaf.
“And you were going to either watch or participate?” She didn’t seem terribly surprised. I nodded.
“I… well Farasha… so brown… so dark… and she had Minis… um...” I took a deep breath. “He put his lips on her.”
“Between her legs you mean,” Narilla said.
I gasped a little but nodded. “And then… well Gan started touching him while he was doing that and then…”
“The boys had sex?”
“And Farasha kissed me, and touched me while they did and I felt something I’ve never felt before and I’m frightened that it’s a sin and I KISSED Minis after he yelled out and…” I buried my face in the heavy mug, feeling the steam paint my fiery cheeks.
“I see,” she said. “Kyriala… are you worried about Farasha being dark skinned and Gannara being dark haired? Or are you more worried about the sex?”
I think I yelped at that, and covered my mouth with my one hand. “Sorry… I… it’s the dark races that are supposed to be further away from Celestial purity and the foreigner who is the gate to Hayel through licentiousness…”
“This sensation you felt… you went to see a Haian about your purification?” I nodded. “And how did that go?”
“All right… I was only a week healing up and she said it was not nearly as bad as it could have been. Mostly… covered up… inner scarring that she opened and my courses have been easier since… even using the garderobe doesn’t hurt any longer.”
“Excellent. Now… what you felt. I believe you have actually had a climax. Women have them as well as men. You all took care to get neither of the girls pregnant?”
“YES… well the boys had… Minis… gave himself to Gannara and Farasha kissed me… can I get with child from that?”
“No, Kyriala. One of the boys would have had to climax inside you or just outside your womb-channel. The Haians call that the vagina.”
My face surely would burn paper it was so hot. I set the mug down and opened my fan to cool my flaming skin. “Oh.”
“Selinae is most concerned with two things, once the question of whether children were engendered is past. One, was everyone there by consent?”
I nodded. “Yes.”
“And two, were anyone’s wishes violated?”
I was able to shake my head no. “Everyone… I was afraid I had too much fun…”
She actually laughed a little and it eased my heart no end. “Kyriala. You needn’t worry. You did not sin. Your friends did not lead you into darkness. Be careful of Selinae’s commandments. Force no one. Listen to your partner. Love. And I suggest you read Muunas’s song to His Wife and consider it.”
It was like an enormous weight lifted off my heart. “I will. Narilla… how do I deal with… these between the legs feelings? I mean I cannot… Farasha and Gannara are going to be away all summer and Minis… I don’t want to shock him… He’d think less of me…”
“I truly don’t think he would, Kyriala. But if you find yourself pre-occupied with those feelings… here.” She handed me a tiny booklet that was so small it fit into one of my glove pockets, hidden in the palm of my hand. “It will tell you what to do to bring on another climax and relieve the distracting thoughts. You might want to buy some nice, light oil in the market on the way home. Preferably lightly perfumed, if at all.”
“Oh? Oh.” I was suddenly on fire with curiosity about the contents of the little book. “Thank you, Narilla.”
“Once you've read through it and thought about it for a bit, if you have any questions, either invite me for kaf and we can talk about it, or come and pray and we'll have a chat afterwards.”
She rose and held out her arms as if she were my mama and I much younger and I took her hug gratefully. It was as if she were forgiving me, even if I’d truly done no wrong.
AN: I will be trying to post tomorrow, but I cannot promise. I will be at Ad Astra SF convention in Toronto. Cheers!