748 - I never promised to let him go easily
Chevenga’s the same, still not with us, but things are calmer and I can send you another letter.
We are all under healer’s orders to be easy on ourselves. Once they were done telling us what’s happening with him and what he needs, they said, “Now it’s your turn, all of you, to relax and have things looked after for you. You are all under great strain because of this. We will take care of him; don’t worry, he’s entirely safe now and we’ll bring him out of it. You can see to matters of your own; say, if you have someone to visit on Haiu Menshir”—here he looked at Kaninjer—“or whatever. We recommend taking walks on the beach, swimming, flying, exercising. We recommend supporting each other; sharing your hearts, and letting out emotion when it’s there. We recommend against staying here close to him, sequestering yourselves here, all the time.”
Kaninjer went almost immediately to visit his family in Berit, and stayed there a couple of nights. But the rest of us are actually more worried about him and Kilalulana. The day we left Arko, he just told her he had to go and did not know when he would be back, with profuse apologies. “Look, we’re on Haiu Menshir, there are a thousand thousand healers all around,” Skorsas told him. “And it’s psyche-healing, not your specialty anyway—he’ll be fine, fly back to Arko before the eight-day is up and talk to her.”
Poor Kaninjer—he was terrified to leave Chevenga, terrified to face Kilalulana, and terrified to fly, but give him another courage-award, he did it, drugging himself silly to get into the sky. He’s there as I write.
We are trying to keep everything quiet, and so far no writers seem to be here; I guess they’re all trying to sniff my omores out in Vae Arahi. Probably all wanting to be the first to write, “Shefenkas commits suicide!” Special Edition! Shark-fuckers. Of course you don’t have to worry about Haians letting it out, so strongly they hold their oaths. The king of Laka could be raving bug-fuck and secretly tied up in the room next door to Chevenga, and we’d never know. I think sooner or later it has to come out; once they notice he’s vanished off the face of the Earthsphere they’ll hunt for him and someone will think, “ex-semanakraseyel go suicidal? Bet he’s on Haiu Menshir.” Then they’ll descend on us like a flock of buzzards. But the longer we can hold that off the better, because the more himself Chevenga will be.
We were thinking we had to go to Denaina at the Yeoli embassy again, until we saw we didn’t. He’s a private citizen now. It’s no one’s political business where he and his family goes. So we haven’t even told them. They’d report to Assembly, and the chances of two hundred and thirty six Yeoli politicians of keeping this secret are about the same as the chances of a ten-year-old Chevenga lookalike staying virginal in Kurkas’s Marble Palace. And then the buzzards are diving on us too soon.
I took the kids and stayed for four nights with Piatsri and Tisimayir and their two. In no time the older three were all teaching each other Haian, Zak, Niah, Yeoli, Enchian and Arkan, while the baby sat staring, listening. But Vriah always looks worried, and I tell her “Make the wall” even though we’re half the city away from the hospital. I think with her gift it’s starting not to matter how far away she is, for people with whom she shares blood, or love. I have to keep telling her, “Aba will be fine.” But from what she feels of him, she doesn’t believe me.
Or maybe it’s because I don’t believe myself, or part of me doesn’t. It’s the evil eel in me, that comes out at night to spread fear in the sea of my mind. I’ve had nightmares a few times, Merao, from him jumping off the ship.
I dream he is sinking like a stone and I am diving as fast as I can after him, just like what really happened, but the water is dark and I can’t see him. I look all around, everywhere, knowing I only have moments, I grope through the water with my hands but they never touch him and I know I must go back up to the surface, leaving him to die, or die myself, and I wake up before I choose.
I dream that there are sharks. I dream of Lord Friend swimming down with me, smiling, with all those rows of teeth. I dream I catch his hair in my hand as I did in reality, but I cannot pull him because Lord Friend has his jaws around him. I dream that I tear him loose, but when I look I see I have only part of him, his torso and his limp arms, the rest of him bitten away, trailing red and bits of flesh in the blue water. I dream I tear him loose and kill him myself by doing it, his eyes looking at me then glazing, in water. I dream of Lord Friend swimming towards us and me screaming, “No, take me! Don’t take him, take me!” but in the last moment his reptile eyes slide aside and he turns toward my omores. I dream of seeing his heart floating away. I dream of the bubbles rising all around me, caressing my legs and arms and breasts with their liquid touch, tinged with his blood.
I was angry with him… you know how it is when you don’t understand, you think, Why doesn’t he just come out of it? Nothing has really happened to him, why doesn’t he just shrug it off? He’s been through far worse and could smile and talk and laugh and love on the other end of it…
I went out into the waves to understand. I have to do that… go either to Ama Kalandris or Aba Tyriah. The sky and the waves are home and safety to me. I went out beyond the reef on a windboard, not letting any Haians see me; I am under strain, can you tell? And who knows what they’d think. I gave myself to Ama Kalandris’s rolling breasts, let her rock and swing me, and did the Yeoli thing, chiravesa.
I have lost everything I lived for. I argued with him as I was him. No you haven’t! Don’t you live at least in part for us? For me? For our little ones, our Mezem-child and our one survivor of twins? Are we nothing to you?
I am so tired, I just want to stop. You don’t need to stop for good; you just need to rest for a while, that’s what the Haians are saying. Your strength will return.
I managed to come back less angry.
More later, from your friend always,
The part I cannot tell her, the part I write only for myself, his secret that is safe with me... Lord Friend smiles, his rows of teeth winking blue in the sea, and says, “I’ve been waiting for him... it’s not that long now.”
I have to reach past my fear. He has so little time left. Will this be his foreseen death that we’ve been living with all these years? Sleeping in the bed with Kallijas and Skorsas and Chevenga and Chevenga’s death... all of us very tight together. Well, except Skorsas. That little fahkad shkavi goes through life so easily.
Chevenga wants it to be his death. Four years early. Four years early! As if we aren’t going to lose him soon enough; why is he taking those four years away from me, from Vriah, from Roshten, from all his other children, from everyone he loves?
I have to fight through it to reach the peace on the other side. Like fighting over the breakwater to reach safety. I guess I can feel sorry for Skorsas that it’s going to be a shock. Kall and I at least got to brace ourselves, as we all do this awful countdown.
For four years from now! Not now!
I never promised to let him go easily. I just promised to be with him until it was inevitable.
I just want to stop. This was the only way to make it possible.
Can you not live for the love of just a few people, pehali, like most people? Must it be the whole world? Is nothing less good enough for you? So the world doesn’t have you for your last four years; will you please give them to us? To me, if you love me?