If there are two words I hate more than anything when coupled, it’s those two in particular. As it was, Dun’s almost ashamed statement of those words did little to stop my quickly mounting temper. It was the next thing he said that did.
"I don’t know how to." My anger quickly turned to shock. For me, communing with the Goddess was easy. I had been told all my life that if I called on her, she would answer, but apparently Dun hadn’t received that piece of knowledge. After all, I was raised by the jinn while he was trained by the giants. Of course there were bound to be differences.
"You don’t know how to come to the Goddess? Or you don’t know how to accept that she loves you?"
"Both," he said. while he was sitting right beside me, it was like a wall had gone up between up.
"Dun, just speak to her. Wait to feel her presence, and she’ll come."
"What does her presence feel like?"
"I’ve always been told that it’s different for each person who seeks her," I answer, shifting my wait. "For me, it’s like a mother, or- or- I don’t know how to describe it."
"I just don’t understand. She cursed our fathers. Why would she bother with us?"
"Dun, she had to punish our parents. You know as well as I do that before creatures walked the earth right and wrong existed, with the Goddess and God as judges of it. Even now that the God has gone from his original state, the Goddess still upholds the right, and punishes the wrong. Our parents double wronged her and the God. They rebelled against their parents and then they struck the blow that sent the God to the Otherworld. She, as the creator and upholder of what is right had to punish them." He nodded. looking thoughtful.
"So how would I speak to her?"
"Just speak, like you’re speaking to me. If you’re open and willing to hear her she will come to you." He sat silently for a while, then hesitantly spoke out loud.
"Goddess? It’s Dun," he paused, then whispered in my direction. "What should I say?"
"Just talk to her. Anything you want to say to her, Dun."
"I feel so stupid," he muttered.
"Would you rather I go outside and wait for you?" I asked, my patience nearly gone. Then I remembered my last conversation with the Goddess. If the Goddess loves him, then I should be more patient with him at least. With that thought I moved into a slightly more comfortable position as he answered.
"No!" he said, adamantly. I nodded and spoke quietly, barely audible, actually, speaking to the Goddess.
"Goddess, please help Dun to learn that you don’t hate him, and please give me the strength to love him, and the patience I’ll need." He glanced at me, shocked. i had forgotten that he had always had the best hearing of the four of us. I stared back at him,then shrugged. "Maybe it will just take you some time."
"Maybe," he said doubtfully. "And, Shinia, I know that you’ve been asleep for the last two days, but I haven’t, and it’s late now."
"You want to sleep," I translated. "That’s fine. But how do you know that it’s late? You have that skin hanging in the entrance of the cave." I was slightly confused by how suddenly he had managed to change the subject. He smiled slightly, seeing my confusion, and moved to one of the torches that were resting in the giant-carved brackets that lined the walls.
"Because of how much of the torch is gone," he answered. "I lit these with a flame from the supper fie shortly after I came in."
"Oh," I said, feeling a little stupid. I should have remembered that the giants, unlike the jinn, did not use the sun, moons, and stars positions to tell the time. Why I hadn’t remembered that was beyond me.
Dun, however, did not seem to notice my embarrassment and began to prepare for bed. I was very uncomfortable and looked away shyly, trying to figure out a way- any way- I could ease or cover up my humiliation.
"Would you mind if I go sit outside for a while?" I asked him, studying the wall.
"Not at all," he said. "Though why on earth did you ask my permission?"
"Because I’m trying to be a good wife," I said, standing up and leaving before he could say anything else.
Once outside in the moonlight, I settled by what had been the supper fire. Staring up at the two moons I sighed and allowed my mind to wander.
Dun is still nice, just as he was when we were younger, but he doesn’t understand. Not me, not the Goddess, and not my communing with the Goddess. I doubt that even Zika will understand that, and she was taught the same as I. But I don’t know if I can do this alone.
I guess the Goddess did say that I wouldn’t be alone, but I’m still wanting a companion. A friend who understands, and cares, and loves the Goddess like I do. That’s when the sky decided to add it’s thoughts.
Sister, you are not alone. We understand. I looked up to see the moons staring down at me like eyes. Maybe if they were eyes, then the Goddess’s Wand, a constellation of seven stars in a straight line, was the sky’s mouth?
But I want someone like me. Someone who isn’t of any one race?
Why do you need someone like yourself when you are surrounded by the Goddess’s children, and even her children’s children? I was shocked. I had no answer for that question, and the sky continued. If you need another who believes in the Goddess, then we are here- my consort, the earth, and I. We have been here for our parent’s other children since our beginning, and we will be here to the end. We will provide for you, even offering our on children up to sustain the offspring of our sisters and brothers. I was shocked by the realization that everything I ate was a child of the earth and sky. It was a rather disgusting and disturbing thought.
"But why? How?" I asked, speaking quietly, though it seemed like a shout in the almost otherwise silent night.
Sister, it is my fate. A curse, if you will. however, I do not see it as such. I may still look down upon my love’s face, and I shall be a constant companion for many generations to come. My twin and I shall bear this load together, and it shan’t become unbearable.
None of this makes sense. How can you bear to be so close to the one you love, yet separated by nothing? Isn’t that unbearable?
I am content. It is my fate, and I know that this is a wonderful existence for me. However, I am not separated by nothing. All living things on the earth are the reason I stay away. If I were to come down upon my lover, I would destroy all life on my twin.
By this point, I had come to the conclusion that this large expanse was lonely, but wouldn’t admit it. I was uncomfortable and wanted to get away from this conversation, but I wasn’t sure how I could excuse myself. Thankfully, I saw Zika approaching from the direction of the cave she and Ithon were dwelling in, and I called out to her.
"Zika!" she jumped, then stepped into the large circle of rocks that I guessed they had used as chairs around the fire.
"Shinia, you’re awake!" she exclaimed, looking slightly strained, and I wondered why. The relief on her face was short lived, and I saw that she had been crying.
"I am," I confirmed, looking at her worriedly. "What’s wrong?"
"Nothing," she lied. I knew better than to probe her- verbally or mentally. We had both been taught how to block others from our minds, and she was exceptionally good at it.
"Alright," I said, walking around the coals to sit beside her. Gently I hugged her, and she hugged me back briefly.
"What was it like, communing with the Goddess?" she asked me quietly. I was slightly surprised that she was asking me, but pleasantly so.
"It was amazing," I said quietly. "She’s so powerful, and-" I hesitated, and she looked at me curiously. "The Goddess reminds me of my mother."
"Oh," Zika whispered, completely understanding what I meant. "Do you miss her?" I froze, and then I nodded. My heart ached as I realized that I wouldn’t be able to ever see her again. I would never be able to ask her for help with anything. In my minds eye, I could picture her on that last night, with the spear sticking out of her chest, her blood flowing from the wound. Her eyes were glassy and empty, and her body was limp.
Zika put a hand on my upper arm, and I realized that i was crying. I drew comfort from Zika’s presence, and dried my face on a corner of the blanket I was still clutching around myself.
"I’m sorry," I apologized, ashamed that she’d seen me crying. "I didn’t mean to-"
"I miss my mother, too," Zika said quietly. I nodded, then glanced up at the sky.
"It’s late," I said quietly. "Why are you out here anyways?"
"Most likely for the same reason you are," Zika said. "I needed time to think."
"How did you know that that was why I’m out here?" I asked, for curiosity’s sake.
"Because I was raised as your sister," Zika answered. She stood up, and brushed the dirt off her backside. "I need to get back to the cave. Ithon will worry if I’m gone for too long." I nodded, a twinge of loneliness and jealousy searing through me.
"Good night," I said, feeling tired and extremely detached. I knew that no one could take this feeling away, but I decided to go back into the cave. At least I’d be with someone, even if he wasn’t able to give me what I needed.
All but one torch had been extinguished, most likely by Dun, and I used the light from the last one to find a spot beside him. he was fast asleep and snoring slightly, and I allowed myself a small smile. As I sat still in the growing darkness I listened to the sound of his even breathing, relaxing my mind and body.
I’m not sure whether I fell asleep or if the torch had gone out, but my imagination wrought monsters out of the darkness. My sleep was fitful, and when I woke my mind refused to release me.
Something had it’s arm around my waist and was breathing on the back of my neck. I rolled away, panicking slightly. Alright- I lie- a lot. I was terrified. The thing- or person- made a snuffling-grunting sound and sat up, as I turned on my hands and knees.
As my mind woke up, thanks to the adrenaline, I realized that it was just Dun. I blushed from my embarrassment. I mean, who wants to mistake their husband for a demon-like monster? Then I began to get mad at him. What right does he have, to put his arm around me without my permission? I was simply indignant.
"What’s wrong?" he asked groggily, propping himself up. I realized that he probably hadn’t realized that he had been holding me, and I relaxed.
"Nothing," I said, returning to my spot beside him. "Nothing at all."