Thursday, March 24, 2011

Friday Fiction for March 25, 2011

Catrina is our gracious Friday Fiction Hostess, over at her blog, Speak To The Mountain. The Linky tool is there, along with Part 3 of her story, “The Corpse.”

In “Her Father’s Star,” one of the conflicts the main character deals with, is being torn between her calling as a daughter of a priestess, and her desire to travel to the stars, as her father did. Her first assignment as a priestess is to assist the Priestess B’Tra in the Embassy on Earth. During this service, she follows B’Tra’s daughter to Auckland, when the girl runs away to elope. This scene occurs during that trip. As a reminder, in this series of stories, the people of Epsilon Eridani (Qi'le) are a Matriarchal society, and therefore view God as Mother.

Chapter 10

Tradition

Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe and aren’t even aware of.

~ Ellen Goodman

Se’Ana stood on the balcony, facing the direction of the sunrise. When she had started the prayers, morning had been nothing more than the hint of light on the eastern horizon. As she sang the final prayer, the light was full upon her face and her skin grew warm from it. God of my mothers,” she sang. I offer every thought of my mind, and every word of my lips, and every action of my body as a gift to you this day. May my gifts be pleasing to You, and may I serve as a faithful daughter should. God of my mothers, You have ordained me a priestess before You; touch Your people through me.”

Wherever B’Tra was, she would be reciting that same prayer. On the world of Qi’le, every priestess would likewise recite the prayer as the morning light first illuminated their villages. She thought about the scandal of her father reciting that same prayer alongside her mother. It was something few husbands of priestesses would dare request, and even fewer priestesses would agree to. Still, at that moment it seemed to her to be the most natural and beautiful thing she could imagine. The liturgical prayer was said to connect the community of priestesses one with another, and the thought that it also connected her with her father across the void made it all the more special to her.

Reciting her morning prayers in jeans and a t-shirt, however, was only slightly better than reciting them naked. Her robe was scheduled to be returned shortly, and she wondered if she would receive it back from the hotel laundry before B’Tra arrived with the spare robe she’d asked the older priestess to bring her.

She entered the room and closed the door to the balcony. Pulling the sheet back over Elizabeth’s bare leg, she touched her middle and ring fingers to the sleeping woman’s cheek. Would that we could truly be sisters, you and I,” she sang softly. Perhaps then you might understand. It had been a restless night for Liz, judging from the disheveled bed linens. She smiled; were she facing such a meeting with her mother, she would feel a certain nervous restlessness as well.

She settled into the chair with her right leg folded back under her left. While she still wasn’t sure she liked the jeans, she did find the freedom of movement they afforded her a nice change from the flowing priestess robe. She understood why the Terrans preferred that style of dress and why even B’Tra would wear such clothing for certain tasks around the Embassy. Perhaps, she considered, after the day’s events were finally settled she would change back into the jeans and t-shirt and wander the city; it could be interesting to blend in and just be a normal woman rather than a priestess and being treated as a visiting dignitary.

Even as she mulled over the idea, she imagined her mother reminding her that, no matter what she wore, she would still be a priestess. She thought of B’Tra, working in the Embassy gardens wearing dirty jeans and a work shirt, and she knew it was true. It was in the eyes, and in the countenance, and in the bearing of a priestess. The blue robes were merely a symbol, Y’La had once told her and her sisters. What the robes did for the body, God did for the spirit, and that was what truly identified a priestess to any who saw her.

She looked at Elizabeth and knew her mother was right. God’s touch was evident on the woman, but in B’Tra it was far more than a touch; it was an enveloping. It was the same for Y’La, and for Noma, and for Sh’e, and for all the other priestesses she had known. God was wrapped around them, and the evidence of Her influence on their lives was obvious to anyone who looked.

Would others say that about her? she wondered. She stood and went to the mirror, and studied her reflection to see if that same evidence appeared as obvious in her as it did in others. She saw only the face of one who had reluctantly accepted the ordination of God staring back at her, and questioned why God would choose to waste Her embrace on such a one as that.

She flopped down onto her bed and closed her eyes, though she doubted it was acceptable to pray in such a position.

She moved her hand, but rather than bed linens she brushed against the weeds of a meadow. She lay in the shadow of Pisces’ wing, and a hand swept the hair from her forehead.

“My daughter Se’Ana; what are you doing here?”

“I heard you had come home, and I wanted to see you and father.”

“You are in your first year of priestess training; you know you cannot leave the school.”

“I just needed to see you both and hear your voices before you returned to the Temple city.”

“Se’Ana, we would not have left without seeing you. We were waiting until this evening, after the lessons for the day were finished. You should have stayed for your lessons, and now they will have others out looking for you. What could be so important that you could not wait until we came to you tonight?”

“Mother, what if I am not supposed to be a priestess? I do not act like the other students, and I do not think like the other students. They delight in their studies, and yet all I can think about is coming out here and working on Pisces. They dream of service and B’selai, and I dream of traveling to the stars like father did.”

“You are Se’Ana, daughter of Y’La, of the family T’Cha. I knew from the first time I blessed you at my breast that you would be a priestess, and I knew when we gave you your name that you would also go to the stars as your father did.”

“But priestesses do not go to the stars, mother. All the other students say this.”

Her mother laughed. “I think these other students have not spoken to the priestess K’Mi, then, for her daughter B’Tra went to the stars as a priestess. They have not spoken to the priestess Alice, for she both went to the stars as a priestess, and returned to us again as a priestess.”

“But that is only two of all the priestesses of Qi’le.”

“God showed me that you would go to the stars, Se’Ana, and if that is what She intends, then that is what She will bring about. You do not need to trust me on this; trust God and follow Her call for you.”

The t-shirt was gathering under her breasts and making her uncomfortable. “Mother?”

“Yes, honored priestess?”

“I was remembering a conversation we had many years ago, and now I am here as an adult. I cannot be here, though.”

“You are not here, Se’Ana. God is there, and She knows you are doubting Her calling on you.”

“Am I dreaming then?”

These are the robes of the priestess,” her mother said, ignoring the question. The robes do not honor us; we honor the robes, for they have been given to us by God as a reminder of all that She has commanded us.” It was what the priestess elder had said when she and the other new priestesses had first donned their robes after their ordination. A priestess does not rule; a priestess serves, and God has chosen you to serve as Her voice and Her hands to the people. The priestess is honored only when the priestess obeys God’s command on her life, for when you cease to serve, you will cease to be honored.”

They were standing in the Council chambers; Pisces had vanished without warning. Her mother stood in front of her once again, holding the folded blue robe in her arms. “Honored priestess,” she said. “Your robes.”

She stared at the robe. When her mother had presented it to her before, she had accepted it without emotion. Tears filled her eyes as she regarded it again, but she did not reach for it.

“Honored priestess; your robes.”

She wanted to reach out and take it, and to put it on with the kind of reverence she should have felt the first time she wore it; the kind of reverence and respect the other priestesses showed so readily as they accepted their first robes from their mothers. Her arms, however, did not respond to her command.

“Honored priestess; your robes,” Elizabeth repeated again.

Se’Ana sat up with a start. Elizabeth stood before her, wrapped in a bath robe and holding the priestess robe in her arms.

“I don’t know how you managed to sleep through the attendant beating on the door; I can usually sleep through almost anything, and he still woke me up. He brought your robes and undergarments back from the laundry.”

She stood up from the bed and touched the material of the robe with one hand. These are the robes of a priestess,” she said. The robes do not honor us; we honor the robes, for they have been given to us by God as a reminder of all that She has commanded us.

“Yeah, I know; mother has explained the priestess robes to me more times than I care to count.” She lifted the robe a bit higher to accent her impatience. “Wait; are you crying? What’s the matter?”

Without answering, she pulled the t-shirt off and took the sash, wrapping it in the way she had done since she had first started developing breasts. She undid the jeans and stepped out of them, and then removed the ridiculous panties. She slipped into her normal undergarment, heedless of any modesty issues that changing in front of the other woman might present. She paused before taking the robe, remembering the real ordination ceremony and the dream she had just experienced. With tears flowing down her cheeks, she lifted it and wrapped herself in it.

“Se’Ana? Are you all right?”

“I think I am all right for the first time in my life.”

3 comments:

Debra Ann Elliott said...

As always I look forward to your post on Fiction Friday. Great story.

Catrina Bradley... said...

I didn't want this to end! I got so caught up in the story I forgot I was reading. Excellent work.

Sara Harricharan said...

Oooh. Wow. Such a detailed word in such a neat piece. I loved all the details and the flashback especially, it helped to bring the Characters together in my head. Great story! ^_^