006 - Oh *kyash,* talk healing
Mamin… it was cowardly not to just say something, wasn’t it? I guess her touchiness made me more afraid. Ethically, of course, I can’t go on not telling her. I will tell her tomorrow night. This is her first, so she can’t distinguish the signs of it in herself yet.
So I’ll tell her she’s pregnant, that part is straightforward. But then what do I say? I don’t know that she is not having sex with another man, because I’ve never asked her, and we are not living together or being together every night. (We were before Chevenga was impeached… that’s one way we’ve stepped back.) We aren’t talking about marriage right now… I think both of us are avoiding it because we just want to enjoy what we’ve got right now, before I have to go back to Yeola-e. But she hasn’t told me there’s anyone else, and I’ve never seen signs of sex on her.
I guess I have to ask her, “Do we know for sure I am the father?” But she’s so quick to anger right now—what if she accuses me of being unjustly suspicious? Or what if there is other man—if it’s a Haian, how will we tell whose child it is?
But what if it’s mine for sure? I know Hyerne customs—children belong to the mother, no exceptions… if the mother is dead or incapable, they belong to the mother’s female kin. (My child, being brought up in that tiny-minded, delusional village… I don’t think Kil would want that either…well, she’s healthy, so with any luck she can handle childbirth.) By their customs, if she and I split up, the child goes with her. Does that mean I’ll never see my son or daughter unless I stay in Arko?
Or maybe she might be willing to move to Vae Arahi so the child will have his or her true father?
I know, I know, I can’t get your answer about what to say in time. If she figures it out herself then figures out that I didn’t tell her within a day, she’ll be angry at me. I have to figure it out for myself. But maybe you have answers for some of my other questions. I so feel like I need your wisdom right now!
Love from your son who might soon be a father—meaning you might soon have a grandchild!
In the next two days, the bliss faded. Everything Surya had said, my mind recoiled from, in shock, in horror, and in other emotions I could not name. The second night I woke soaked with sweat.
They poked at the edges of my thinking, death-obligation, lay down the sword, I don’t deserve to live, and my mind shrank away from them like a caterpillar from a firebrand. Then when I least expected it, some part of my body would whisper, I want to live. It was the oddest thing, to be completely disoriented in perfectly familiar places, as if I had taken a head-blow without noticing it happening. My thoughts would be going along their everyday course, then everything would suddenly be spinning; else rising out of sleep, I would feel as if I’d been flung sideways, the room going end over end.
I was desperate; it was a problem I had to solve, but could not even begin to make sense of, as if I must win a battle but could not even count my army or see what equipment we had or name any officers, all these things slipping out of my mind even as I thought them, making it impossible to bring everything together, like in a bad dream. It was like the time on Haiu Menshir after Kurkas had had me tortured to insanity, when I could not form up my thoughts; but this time it was not some external disturbance making it impossible, like a din forbidding speech, but the nature of the thoughts themselves, each seizing me too violently with shock to allow me to think of all of them at once, so that I could not consolidate them.
I told no one. I couldn’t bear to, didn’t know what to say; my mind shying away from it all would hardly allow my tongue to speak it, and let another hear it. “I can’t talk about it, please stop asking,” I begged Niku, Skorsas and Kallijas, which astonished them, being so unlike me.
I floated through my work, the gilded office, the meetings, the national calculations and considerations all seeming distant and strange. People noticed that I seemed as if I had partaken of the herb-pipe; those who did not fear me mentioned it. I know now they talked about it with each other.
I cancelled on someone, something I never do unless I’m deadly ill, to go to Surya the second time. Of course, according to him, I was.
I turned to walk up his flag-stoned path, and froze in fear. I could not move forward, as if I were standing against a wall.
I have infiltrated a war-camp alone to kill the most well-guarded person there, at the age of fifteen. I have led more charges than I’ve kept count of, running or riding straight towards the naked blades of hundreds of enemies all ignoring everyone else to fight-stare me, wanting my blood most. I won fifty duels in the Mezem, and strode without hesitation to where I would duel Riji, and Kallijas Itrean, both at least my equals. My courage is the subject of songs, murals, statues. But now I couldn’t walk up to the door of a healer’s office.
I stood like a dumbfounded idiot in an Arkan street, unable to make myself step forward, swearing I’d die before I stepped backward, thinking “I will do this if I have to stand here until the second Fire does come,” hoping I wouldn’t shit my kilt. The only mercy was that I was wearing a hooded cloak so that none of the glancing passersby could know it was me.
Then Surya opened his door, and said “Nye’yingi, come in,” and my body mindlessly obeyed as it would a war-commander.
“Kras’,” I said as I passed him. He smiled, and I braced myself for his order to strip and lie on the table. My mouth was bone-dry, my heart hammer-banging and my legs jelly. Instead he took me into a parlor with two plush chairs, had me sit down and offered me ezethra, of all things, as if I were a visiting friend.
“No touch-healing today,” he said, reading my mind to answer my inward question. I thought my heart would fall out of my chest, with relief. “Just talk-healing today. Tell me: how do you feel?” Oh kyash, I thought: talk-healing.
“You can’t see it in my aura?” I asked him.
“I can; but I want to know how well you know your own feelings.”
And how honest I’ll be, I thought. “All right. Shocked to my bones. Very relieved not to be on your table. So scared I feel like shitting my kilt right here.”
“And one other.”
“Emotion. You feel another emotion. Tell me, because I need to know, are you hiding it just from me, or yourself as well? Be honest with me, it’s very important: do you know you feel another emotion and just don’t want to tell me, or do you not know you’re feeling it?”
I felt, and followed, the urge to breathe deeply, as I thought about how to answer this. “I must be hiding it from myself,” I said finally, “for I told you all the ones I could think of.”
“All right, good.” He did not say which of the two possibilities carried the better prognosis; I hoped the “good” meant it was the one I was taking. I wondered if he could tell if a person was lying from their aura. I certainly wasn’t going to try. “The other emotion you are feeling is shame, shame for your fear.”
Of course, I thought, smacking myself inwardly, remembering how glad I’d been of the hooded cloak on his walk. “Which you needn’t feel. With what you’re facing, courageous as you are, you’d be inhuman not to be afraid.”
“Ah.” I pursed my lips. “That’s so reassuring.”
He laughed again. It was good to see; he had a warm laugh, and it made him human. Face-to-face, I noticed other things about him I hadn’t before; he had green-grey eyes, his hair was short enough to be counted a warrior-cut, he had a mole over one eyebrow, he wore a plain white linen tunic and nothing on his feet. His hands I was almost afraid to look at, but of course I could not help it while he spoke. Their way of moving was gentle, like their touch, but they were muscular, making me wonder if he did hard massage as well. He was so plain outwardly, for what he carried within him, it was startling; those hands, that had done what they had done to me, looked like anyone’s.
“Well, we’ll return to shame. Have you thought about the last session?”
“As little as I could possibly manage.”
The laugh came with a snort, this time, catching him by surprise. “My clients should always be so truthful. Well... sooner or later you will have to start.”
“Seriously... I did think about it, I tried to, but I could get nowhere. It’s... it’s still entirely overwhelming, Surya.” I suddenly wanted to cleave to him, like a bit of rock in a heaving ocean. In all this, he was the only certainty.