764 - I give you back to yourself
One morning during my alone-time, I lay in bed thinking something agonizing when a cheerfully mellifluous Haian voice at the door broke me out of it. “Sexual healer!” he said. I was too stunned to answer. “Hello?” he said. “Chivinga Aichiresa?” Then to the guards, “He is in, isn’t he? Perahin said he never sleeps at this time of day.”
“I’m here,” I said.
“Ah good, may I come in? My name is Senisen of Haiuroru and I am here as recommended.”
“Ehh…” I said. “Recommended…?”
“Yes… Perahin’s prescription is my services, as you have need, as his note says... did he not tell you I was coming?”
“I don’t recall… em, all right, I can’t say certainly he did not. My not recalling it doesn’t mean he didn’t… you know.” We were speaking Enchian. I heard one of the Arkan guards fail at stifling a snort of laughter. “I’m sorry, I should not let a Haian stand on the doorstep, come in.” I sat up in the bed, pulling the covers up around my chest.
Senisen was a small, slender man, in his late thirties perhaps, with the most sensitive shining round black eyes I had ever seen on a Haian, and a soft smile that seemed perpetual, as if his face were built that way. His way of moving was so infused with grace and gentleness that when he sat on the chair beside the bed I almost wanted to ask him to get up and walk so I could watch more of it. “It might be our error,” he said. “He might have thought he told you and forgot he didn’t. It happens. But his opinion is that you are in sexual need but are inhibited from satisfying it with the usual persons.”
“Ehh… well, the second part is true,” I said. Their touch no longer burned, but it still did not feel as it had before, as if my skin were stone. “But…” I took inventory of myself inside. “I have no need. I haven’t since before I came here… more proof that I’m crazy, I guess.”
“May we do this much?” he said. “I touch you, just like this, enough to get you relaxed?” His hand was on my shoulder, in the way a Haian’s hand generally is, just comforting. I could hardly object to that, so I signed chalk. Suddenly I was noticing his hand; just the touch of four fingers somehow filled me with warmth and peace all over, like being wrapped in soft wool when you feel broken. Though I’d thought I would speak, I sat silent, basking, drawing it in as I’d been thirsting for it. He was silent, too, being with me as one can barely imagine one person being with another. Even as I had the thought of wanting to sink into the bed and close my eyes, so long as he didn’t let go of me, he said, “Lie back.” When I did he put his other hand on my brow, and felt the same deliciousness enter into me from there.
“You,” I finally whispered, “have a gift… of touch.”
“Yes,” he said. I knew he was smiling from his voice. “That’s why I do what I do.” He caressed my brow, stroking my hair, and I felt thrown back twenty five years, a baby in the glow of the cherishing of my mother, feeling ultimate safety in every cell of my body. I felt myself fall into laxness as I had not known for… how long? Before the Arkan war, before the Mezem… no, before the Lakan war… before I started war-training. I tried vaguely to remember the agonizing thing I’d been thinking about, in a sort of loyalty to mental continuity, for a moment, but it was gone as if it had never been. He stroked down my cheek, and I found my head turning to press into his hand. I lay in bliss as he caressed my neck and shoulders.
“There,” he said. “How is that, Chivinga?”
“Wonderful,” I breathed. “Thank you, Senisen.”
“May I touch you in a more sexual way?”
All-Spirit… what would that feel like? Suddenly I wanted to find out very much. “Yes,” I whispered.
He took his time, his caresses working their way tenderly down my chest. Then his finger found my nipple, feather-stroking it, and I felt a streak of sex-fire flash up through my centre. I thrashed, and gasped. He thumbed both of them, as gently as water, and I was writhing and panting in a moment.
“You feel your need now?” he said. Madness, I have learned, means finding out you’re wrong a lot.
“All-Spirit, yes, Ten Gods…” I threw my head back. “I give myself to you.”
“Don’t worry what will happen afterwards,” he said. “However much you find yourself wanting to cleave to me; it happens. Give yourself to me now, and when we are done I will give you right back to yourself.”
It was as astonishing as I had imagined when he’d first touched me. There was a purity about it as there can be only with a healer, whose intent is nothing but healing—maybe as there can be only with a Haian healer. It was pure giving; he asked and expected nothing of me at all. He only took pleasure of me because I insisted on it, saying that I could not have entire pleasure unless he did too, and he told me it was not something he usually did.
Before he’d brought me to too much ecstasy to hear, he warned me, “When you come it might break open emotion. If it does, let it out, give it its freedom, no matter how shattering it seems. I will hold you through it.” That was precisely what happened. I couldn’t and still can’t even name the emotion, or tell whether it was more joy or pain, but it was so strong I went right from joy-cries to screams, and he did hold me through it. It was almost as if the limitless beneficence of his touch was driving it, somehow. I went, and he held me, until I was still and limp as a wrung-out rag. Then he kissed me on the forehead, like a parent, in a way that I knew meant I give you back to yourself. I slept; when I woke my loves were there, and when next they wanted me, I wanted them too, and their touch was beautiful again.
The leaf-houses of the House of Integrity don’t have Arkan-glass mirrors hung on their walls, so there wasn’t one until it appeared, the next day. Perahin wants me to see myself more, I thought. Maybe Skorsas had told him about the time in my life when I wouldn’t. I know what I am supposed to feel, I thought. Surprised that I look the same until I get over it.
So I refused to feel that, but what did strike me now, despite the pale rings of skin on my fingers where the signet and the Seal-rings had been, was that I had things that did not belong to the semanakraseyesin, either Arkan or Yeoli; things that were mine. My crystal, my father’s wisdom-tooth, the Haian time-piece, Mana’s arm-ring (though I no longer wore it, so it was with my things in Vae Arahi)—even my gold teeth, and all my scars. These things I had not lost, and would not. You still have all your traits and abilities too, I could imagine Perahin saying. I’d already learned that; but often in healing you have to learn things twice or three times or more, as the madness resists, disordering the memory.
After the first thought of what I wanted to do with my life came to me—take a decent amount of time raising my children—more followed fast, like water from a dam after the first breach. I wanted to spend more time with my loves as well, keep training as much as I was now, teach in the School of the Sword, fly, write an account of the Arkan War that was instructional, travel to places and visit people I hadn’t been able to before; since I’d lost my trade, I should keep house for my family. I’d barely begun to see what a marvelous amount of time I would have when it was booked solid with plans.