Follows Vidanja, Part 1. This is the ongoing story (until I finish writing it) I’m writing out in prose for a graphic novel. 687 bonus words! Warning: Uncomfortable scenes ahead, I don’t want to spoil anything but it gets a little disturbing.
The sun was still low in the sky when Vidanja stepped out of a cell and closed the door behind her. Her face was wet with tears and she was trembling. She was so tired, physically and emotionally. Drained.
One Epac Chahal, condemned by the Sudatet for the crime of rape, was dead. Vidanja couldn’t understand why she had been selected to perform this man’s Mod Shada but she knew no Mod Dehut was shielded from the horrors people could perpetrate against one another. Still somewhat dizzy from the Autuk she made her way to her home in what she thought of as the cloisters.
On the way, she reflected on what had happened. This was her first solo Mod Shada and would be the first testament whose text would be written on her alone. When she’d finally been ready to attend to the condemned without a mentor, she was assigned to reconcile Chahal. Modehu Ekata, still quite visible in Vidanja’s life, had been pleased at her progress.
“You’ll do a fine job with him. He raped two women, threatened their lives. He needs reconciliation to the Sha if he is to atone for that. Obviously he’s no threat now and I realize it will be difficult to feel compassion for him, but that’s why I chose you. You have to cry for every dehe, every single one who is in danger of having his name forgotten. No matter what he’s done you have to try to bring him back to us.”
Vidanja hadn’t realized precisely how hard it would be. Epac Chahal was a polite, well-spoken man who took her by surprise with his concern for her comfort. She was lured by his manner into thinking that perhaps he wasn’t as bad a man as she’d imagined.
She’d been wrong. During their first few visits he’d been reluctant to confess, perhaps out of some sense that she was an authority or that she was too delicate, unlike the women he’d raped. The women, he’d confessed (although she already knew) were young women who had volunteered to serve as state prostitutes for a year. It was baffling to her how this man, a member of the Sha all his life, could look at these women as somehow less than himself. His vehemence frightened her sometimes, along with his insistence that “they wanted it because they were offering themselves to everyone as if their bodies are worth nothing.”
“That’s their job. Their bodies belong to the Sudatet for the term of their servitude. They serve the Sha.”
“In they wanted to truly serve and be honored they would become Dehutet like you, anything but a receptacle for the pleasures of everyone that wants to use them.”
He’d been born there, grown up there. She couldn’t understand why he chose to ignore the right of every member of the Sha to find comfort and release without shame. The prostitutes were true servants, not turning away a single soul who sought their company. Lonely, inexperienced, or disfigured in the increasingly hostile skirmishes with Cari, all were welcome to find peace in the arms of a prostitute. One who bore a child and gave it to Karagad was even more revered, and could hope to join the Giotet.
With this still in her mind Vidanja stepped into her apartment and shut the door behind her, removing the oppressive red robe that signified her station. Inside the bedroom she was startled by a noise and the garment fell to the floor.
“Delfin! What are you doing here?” She glared at him, heart thumping. She lit a candle then crossed her arms. “What are you doing in my bed?”
“I just came to be with you. I’ve seen how hard the first Mod Shada alone is on new Dehutet. I…didn’t have a way to reach you so I came here and just waited. Didn’t know it would get so late. I stretched out for a moment and I guess I fell asleep.”
On the bed was one of her journals. Over the years she had developed a habit of telling Delfin stories as practice for work and he’d encouraged her to write them down. A flush of embarrassment and irritation overtook her when she realized he was reading stories she’d never willingly tell him. Her fatigue was instantly forgotten and she rushed to snatch the pages.
He got to it first, holding it out of her reach and grinning maniacally. “Oh this has been very interesting reading, Vidanja. Why haven’t you ever told me these stories? Don’t you think I’ll like them?”
Unsure how to respond she stood mute, face burning red and eyes tearing. She swallowed hard and looked at the pages, unable to look at him. “Can I please have it back?”
“Have what back?”
“Oh this journal here? Only if you tell me what’s in it.”
“It’s been a hard day and I just want it back please. I can’t believe you just came in here and read it without my permission!” She still didn’t look him in the face.
“And I can’t believe you’ve been writing stories like this without telling me. Little Vidanja’s all grown up and having womanly thoughts now. Very womanly if this is anything to go by.” He snickered and she clenched her teeth to avoid bursting into tears in front of him. For a moment Delfin seemed to hold his cruel, arrogant pose but he softened suddenly, took her hand and pulled her to sit next to him. He placed the papers on her lap and wrapped his arm around her. She offered no resistance, and his fingers slipped through her hair to massage the back of her neck. This small measure of kindness broke her defenses and she wept.
Delfin took the pages from her and laid them aside, drew both his arms around her and held her as she cried about the Mod Shada she performed for Epac Chahal. Delfin’s hands were gentle on Vidanja’s back and arm, taking one of her own hands periodically and stroking her fingers. She felt safe and relieved, and she found she was glad he’d waited for her because she did need the company.
“Thank you” she said softly, resting her head against his arm.
His hand made its way to the back of her neck again, massaging tenderly. “You’re always welcome, Vidanja.” His voice was calm and kind.
Feeling once again like she might be able to sleep, she pulled away to wish him a good night and prepare for bed. The hand on the back of her neck tightened.
“Ow, you’re hurting me.”
His other hand found its way from his arm to her breasts and she was taken aback by his brazen groping.
“Don’t pretend you don’t want this. I read what you wrote.”
Shame overtook her and she froze for a moment, unable to respond. She again tried to push away but his fingers pushed into her hair, curled into the tendrils while his other hand insinuated itself under her clothing and against her naked skin. She blinked hard and tried to remove his hand only to feel his fingers tighten in her hair.
“I came to be here for you, chanan. Then I read your stories and realized how much you need me.” He brushed his nose against her cheek and a wave of warmth went through her. She shook her head weakly, recalling what happened two years earlier in his room at the creche.
“Not like this, Delfin. They’re just stories. I didn’t mean for…this…” she trailed off breathlessly, caught up in sensations she had never quite experienced. She whimpered.
He kissed the corner of her mouth and peered into her eyes, his guileless face at odds with what he was doing to her. “You need this. You need someone to be with you in the closest way. Don’t you want someone who can show you it doesn’t have to be the way it was for those women? I can…” his lips traveled to the sensitive skin below her jaw, “show you. You’ll feel better. You’re so worked up, let me help you.”
It didn’t feel like he was helping her. His hands and lips kept moving and while she protested feebly her clothing was coming off her body. She was so scared of what would happen but she didn’t want to push him away because she did need somebody right now and if she had to be comforted by someone she would want it to be him. His hands left her and, dazed, she looked around vaguely, hearing the slip of clothing from skin that was not her own. She was about to stand up when Delfin returned to the bed, his knees pressing hers apart, pressure in the center of her chest urging her backward. Afraid, she raised her hands to his arms to pull herself up but succeeded in only pulling him down atop her.
The next moments happened in staccato: there was heat and hardness at her thighs and teeth and breath on her neck and she couldn’t get comfortable but it didn’t matter because the next thing she felt was pain so sharp that her cry would have pierced the early morning had he not covered her mouth with his.
When it was all over Delfin sat on the edge of the bed in silence. Vidanja was curled behind him, staring at his back and wondering what to say. The pain had subsided into a dull ache at her center and she kept a forearm pressed to her belly as if that would ease it. She felt awkward, opening her mouth a few times before actually speaking.
“Is it supposed to hurt like that?”
“It didn’t hurt for me. You’ll get used to it.” He rose and began putting on his clothes. Through the window the first signs of dawn made themselves apparent. “I have to go.” He departed, leaving the naked girl to blow out her candle. Despite her earlier exhaustion, it took her a long time to get to sleep.