772 - We have lost so much
I open my legs. I see him swallow. But he gazes, steeled not to turn away, his perfect golden eyebrows knit. I think of the stories I’ve heard about Arkan couples who always do it in the dark so not as to see each other, the man thrusting and grunting for a bit with his face and heart turned away in shame from what he’s doing and anger that his body demands it, the woman just plain suffering, making her mind fly somewhere far away so she doesn’t feel it. Neither of them saying anything while they’re doing it, and afterwards, with their clothes back on, pretending it never happened. I didn’t believe these things until Kallijas and Skorsas both swore they’re true. No wonder Arkans are so bug-fik.
“It’s… different,” he says. “From the diagrams.”
“It’s unwounded,” I say. “This is what a woman is supposed to look like there.”
“What all women in the world other than Arkans look like, yes, yes, I know.” Even the most enlightened Arkans hate it when you remind them the rest of the world defeated them. “So complex… so many… layers and folds.”
“They’re all very sensitive,” I say. “The closer to the centre they are the more sensitive they are. And in the very centre, they’re the most sensitive… the root of a woman’s ecstasy, I’ll teach you exactly where it is. All of it… it goes very deep into her body as ecstasy goes into her soul.”
He’s not looking fascinated as he should. More like he wants to puke and he’s holding it in. This’ll never work. “Niku… I’m like every Arkan. Man or women. We were all taught that women’s pleasure is evil… the most vile and corrupting stench of Hayel”—he says it fast like a quote—“that sort of thing—that doesn’t mean that I really think that, it’s just…”
Fakhad Arkan, I’ll kill you… But the Wasteega Foa is with me. I hear her voice, as if her lips are beside my ear. “When you want to strike most is when you should love most.”
I close my eyes and take a deep breath for calm. “It’s just that that sort of insanity still haunts your heart?” I say. I take his hand again, but like a friend, not a lover. “Though you don’t want it to.”
He heaves out a sigh. “I should see this as beautiful as a man’s. And your pleasure as just as right… look at Ea! It’s another reason why I fell in love with him, these barbaric things that were as natural to him as breathing but to me made sense such as I had never known, like lightning through the mind…! Fikken Arkans, we are so crazy…”
He touched the outer curls of my loin-hair with one finger, tender as a feather. “And we have lost so much.”
Piatsri, have I ever told you? Skorsas never cries. He’s too suave and perfect for that. Through everything that happened in the Mezem, he stayed dry-eyed—not that he didn’t care, he showed that with everything he did—he just doesn’t cry. An Arkan thing.
But now I saw a tear fall off his blond eyelashes, and felt it land hot on my thigh. I sat up and put my arms around him and pulled his head onto my shoulder as if I were his mother. He wrapped his around me, and leaned into my neck. His sobs were silent, but he sobbed, and soaked me.
I knew he was crying for all of Arko. I’ve always said Skorsas is selfish, haven’t I? But he was crying for his whole country. For every Arkan, man or woman, all over the Empire, for all that they’ve suffered for however many years or centuries because of their crazy stupid sex-is-from-Hayel beliefs. Second Fire come if I lie, thinking about it made me tear up. I was thinking of Ea, terrified her parents would disown her… and Kall, a virgin into his twenties… and every Arkan woman or girl who’s been purified… and every Arkan man who can never know the pleasure of pleasuring his wife… and the monks who are forbidden to have sex… and Skorsas himself, suffering what he suffered doing what he did before he got to the Mezem.
I cried as hard as he did.
Can you believe that, Piatsri? I’ve hated Arkans’ guts for my entire life! Here I was in a clench with my worst enemy in this place, crying my eyes out for the people that has been my people’s worst enemy! As I write, I keep thinking, Did that really happen? But it did, and it went on and on, enough that I started to worry that Chevenga and Kallijas would get back before Skorsas and I accomplished our mission. But then maybe this was an even greater peace and bond between us.
“I think I know what I am afraid of,” he whispers. “I will touch you, and find you are as sensitive and open to pleasure as a man, and I will really know all we have lost. And I’ll never be able to forget.” Ama Kalandris… maybe that’s what they’re all really afraid of.
I tighten my arms around him. “Skorsas,” I whisper, “yes, you Arkans have lost a lot. But now you are in a time in which you can regain it. And heal from the pain.”
“True,” he breathes. “I somehow knew from the moment I saw him that he somehow had the cure for every ill in me and around me and in this world. I don’t understand why it isn’t obvious to everyone with half a brain that he’s Selestialin.”
I kiss his hair. “And you have cure in your own reach, too. It’s just a matter of doing.”
“True,” he breathes again. He loosens his arms and slides them down to my hips and then my thighs, and hints by a pressing as subtle as duck’s down that I should open my legs again. I do. He dashes his tears out of his eyes with the back of his naked fist, and looks there again. This time there is something in his eyes I’ve never seen when they were looking at any part of me before. Love.