Monday, August 10, 2009


(Saya Island and environs on Pya at the time of Pyosz's arrival; click on image to enlarge)

To begin reading this sci-fi novel or for background information, go to my Chapter One post from yesterday. To read about the background of the first novel, read my post here, which will also direct you to appendices. There is a glossary of sorts for this chapter at the end of this current post. Terms first introduced in previous chapters will not be re-explained here.


When Pyosz woke up, almost three hours had passed. The cabin was as hot as an oven, and her clothes were soaked in sweat. She rolled over and jostled something on the bed beside her: It was Curds, with puffed up fur and a bloody right ear showing a visible tear. Curds growled softly and Pyosz said "I know. It's awful, ain't it." Through the open cabin door she could see Ember sitting near the table, watching them intently.

Pyosz sat up and gingerly touched Curds, who bristled briefly, then launched in a pathetic mix of purring and growling. "I need to go piss, Curds" Pyosz said. But when she stood, her feet exploded in pain. Her calves were swollen slightly beyond the margin of the leather at the top of her otos. She wasn't sure she'd be able to get her otos off. She hobbled to the privy, which like everything else on Saya was in dire need of cleaning, and relieved herself. She fought crying as she limped back to the kitchen, rooting through cupboards until she found a pan big enough to hold her feet. She filled it with hot water from the shower tank and set it on the table, then forced herself over to her trunk in search of Lawa's first aid packet. As she sat at the table, considering what herb to add to the basin, Curds edged out of the cabin and made a wild leap for the table, narrowly missing landing in the water.

"Well, let's start with you, then" said Pyosz. She pour antiseptic on a piece of gauze and, holding Curds firmly, daubed it on her ear. She followed that with some of Lawa's blister ointment and released Curds, who stayed on the table but as far away from Pyosz as she could go. She alternated between washing her ear with a grimace of distaste and leaning over to hurling katt imprecations at Ember. Pyosz said "You two will have to work it out. We're all sleeping in the tin can tonight."

It took her half an hour to get the otos off her feet, and she felt skin tear in the process. She saw blood soaked through her sokken, and peeled them back gently. She had more large, ruptured blisters than she wanted to count. She lowered her feet into the soaking solution and almost screamed at the sharp pain, but kept her feet submerged. She was hungry, and thirsty; she realized she should have put food on the table before taking care of her feet.

To distract herself, she picked up Ferk's log book lying on the table where Poth had left it and began trying to make sense of her record-keeping. Her handwriting was clear enough, but there seemed to be a lot of gaps in what she deemed necessary to track. She turned to the last filled pages and worked backwards until she came to a list of names, presumably the current herd. Yes, there was Boulder, with (Clatter) beside her name. Pyosz didn't know what that meant. She also found Molars, who was annotated with (Midnight). Then her eye caught the word Boulder again, but this time it was parentheses following the name (Rubble). She suddenly realized the name in paretheses must be the aggie of the goat in question. She smiled at Ferk naming Boulder's kid Rubble, and looked for more offspring. She found Pebbles as another kid of Boulder, and an ominous-sounding Nips as the product of Molars.

Except half the names didn't have the aggie indicated. Maybe these were the kids born a month ago, and Ferk hadn't had time to name them. Poth had said there were 22 kids in the current herd, so Pyosz counted the names without aggies: 18, so that wasn't it. The simple trouble she'd had doing this math calculation made her realize she should eat now, instead of waiting.

She stood cautiously, and was relieved to find that without the otos on, her feet felt much better. The rest of her body was still sending off red flares of muscle pain, however, so she moved slowly. She pulled out all the remaining vegetable dishes from her abbas' hamper, the last of Yoj's rolls, the pitcher of milk and a square of soft cheese. She refilled the basin, added a different tincture from Lawa's remedies, and this time sighed with relief as her feet went back into hot water. She ate ravenously, drinking half the pitcher of milk and letting Curds help herself to whatever smelled interesting. To keep things fair, she tossed a morsel of cheese to Ember, who ate it with a thoughtful expression on her face.

As she ate, she kept looking through the logbook, and finally she realized the goats without an indicated lineage must be bucklings, who would never breed and thus for whom no ancestry was pertinent. But 18 seemed like a high number. By continuing to work backward, she calculated that 7 of these were kids left over from last year, well past the age of recommended slaughter. According to the reading she'd done, does only came into cycle during the autumn, so there was not much chance of the bucklings impregnating any maturing doelings, but all the texts had said sexual maturity gave them profound personality problems in a herd. This meant they were overdue for slaughter.

If she was correct in her assumption. The radio was within reach. She picked it up and dialed for an open line, then told the operator she wanted to speak with someone at the main ejida in Pertama. When she got through, she gave her name and said she needed to talk to someone about the goat herd on Saya Island.

"We have a new capriste out there, you should call her -- " said the ejida worker, who hadn't identified herself.

"I know, I'm that new capriste. Pyosz." She waited a second for the worker to give her name, then gave up on manners from anyone at the ejida on Pya. "I'm looking over the herd records, and it seems to me there's a number of bucklings who are over a year old, I need to consult with someone about the meaning of that."

"It's not recommended to have bucklings that old" began the worker.

"I know, that's what I need to find out. Are you well-acquainted with goat care?"

"Me? No, never go near 'em. The only person here who could maybe help you is Poth, but she's out at the moment, I can leave a message."

"No, thanks. I'll find out somewhere else." Like pull it out my bruised ass thought Pyosz as she hung up. Then she remembered, there was actually a capriste in their family, her cousin Vants who had tended goats on Yagi for almost 30 years.

Vants was the middle child of Moasi, her abba Halling's oldest sib and her emma's first cousin. Vants was often referred to as "odd" by some members of the family, but Pyosz never understood why. Vants had gone to University and obtained a rare degree in Ethics and Administration, but after graduation, she walked away from a variety of career paths and instead moved to Yagi, to live in isolation there with goats and the seasons. She did always attend family functions, bringing a delicious dish and dressing nattily. In addition, she read constantly during her long hours alone. Pyosz had found her to be a good listener when she was a child, and although Vants didn't talk much, when she did, Pyosz had always found her honest and interesting, which was more than you could say about some other adults.

The problem was, Vants would probably be out in the hills somewhere. Pasturage on Yagi was extremely hard to come by and assigned by season rather than being fenced in, so capristes there often spent days away from town, sleeping in little huts or on the ground. Vants had a bunk at a rooming house, however, so she could leave a message if nothing else.

To her surprise, Vants was in -- nursing a heavy cold, from the sound of it.

"Are you all right, cousin?" asked Pyosz, newly concerned about the longevity of capristes.

"Yes. More to the point, how are you doing? You're on Saya now, right?" asked Vants.

"Every part of me aches, and I have a welt the size of Sigrist Poke on my ass from a goat named Molars" said Pyosz. She was thrilled to hear Vants' infrequent laugh, a big loud burst of giggles.

"Listen, grab them by the horns and yell right in their face when they piss you off, then back away immediately. It shocks them no end, and they'll think about it next time" said Vants.

"I wish you were here to give me about a thousand pieces of advice just like that" said Pyosz.

"You got my letter after that crotch-brain left you, right?" asked Vants.

"I did, and it was one of the best condolences I received, my dear cousin" said Pyosz.

"So, what's up? Have you gone through one milking cycle or two, yet?" asked Vants.

"One, and I'm dreading the second. Can thumbs actually fall off into the dust at your feet?" said Pyosz.

"If they could, Yagi would be littered with dried up appendages" said Vants, with another laugh.

"Well, the reason I'm calling..." Pyosz outlined her questions succinctly. This was an open line but there was no need to keep Vants on the phone forever, she wasn't that kind of talker.

Vants became very serious. "Oh, dear, yes, you'll have to take action as soon as you can. This is an unconscionable delay. Either that capriste was ill and fighting it for a long time, I mean months, or -- well, there's some other reason she neglected her herd" said Vants.

"I agree with you. I may have an answer in a day or two" said Pyosz. "The backlog here is, well, almost overwhelming."

"And there's no one you can ask for help in Pya? Lev, if I wasn't sick, I'd get on the next freighter out" said Vants. "They owe me enough leave time to let me go for a month."

"The only person who seems to know anything about goats is a short-fused ejida worker who doesn't want anything to do with this island, apparently" said Pyosz. "Do I have to do the slaughter myself, then? I've never killed anything but chickens and an occasional fattened goose."

"If you were the full-time capriste, yes. But not in this situation, cousin, and not your first week there" said Vants. "It's much harder than birds. Have the goats shipped to the ejida and let them do it. You'll take a reduction in your percentage, talk that over with Mill, but it's out of the question for you to do it yourself right now."

"All right. I won't argue, I wasn't looking forward to it."

"I suspected it was more of a mess there than Mill either let on or knew about" said Vants. "And that sloppy herd issue, well, that's part of the reason I turned her offer down."

"She asked you first?" said Pyosz, startled.

"Yes, didn't she tell you? Lev." There was a silence, then Vants said "I don't think you've been taken advantage of. If I did, I'd make her pay." The idea of quiet, mild Vants voicing retribution make Pyosz blink. "I considered migrating, I truly did. But I want to start my own herd from scratch, and I want to raise goats for fiber as well as for meat and milk -- mixed herds. I'm due for that right here, and I'm waiting for the paperwork to come through. Anyhow, you can clean up whatever mess there is, you're strong and smart. And I have to say, I not only understand you choosing this option to get over a broken heart, I wholeheartedly support it. Certainly worked for me."

A third surprise. Pyosz said "Then you became a capriste because -- " She stopped, aware this was an open line.

"Call me back when we're both more free and I'll tell you about it" said Vants with a grin in her voice, acknowledging the lack of privacy and hinting that Pyosz make her return call on a private line. "One thing that's going to be important is making sure the feed your milkers get is the right balance for that soil and climate. Was Ferk using the ejida crap?"

"The bags I've seen look like it, yes" said Pyosz.

"You got paper and pencil handy? Okay, take these ratios down." Vants dictated ingredients for home-made goat feed, and indicated which percentages to use for early summer in a pasturage with primarily sandy soil. "You can get all those bulk as part of your allotment as a food producer, don't let them force the other on you."

"Stars, but I wish I could meet you for tea and show you this logbook" breathed Pyosz. "You are such a help, just hearing you talk about it like it's a normal part of life."

"It's a good life" said Vants. "I'm happy. But then, they say I'm odd, you know."

There was a small silence, then Pyosz burst out laughing and Vants joined her. "No telling what they're saying about me now" said Pyosz.

"Listen, cousin, I have to go flush my nose again. But call me any time, with any question. I mean that." And assuredly Vants did.

"All right. I hope you feel better soon."

"Same to you. Hugs, little capriste cousin."

Pyosz hung up feeling much better. The water in her basin was cool, and she lifted her feet onto the edge of the table to examine them closely. She hadn't brought a towel with to the kitchen with her -- they were in her trunk. She let her feet air dry, then walked gingerly to the trunk, getting a towel, clean sokken, and her wellies: No way was she going to put back on her otos today. Before she put ointment and blister pads on her feet, she took a photo of them propped on the table again, then a photo of Curds looking likewise worse for wear. Once she had on sokken and the roomy wellies, she tried standing. It hurt where the raw skin touched anything, but she made herself head out to do a survey, taking the logbook, pencil, and camera with her.

She noticed Ember ambling along behind her. Curds stayed on the table but warbled a protest at them leaving together. Pyosz went first to the kissing gate, opening the inner side and stopping to look down at the pasture. Goats were strung out along the southern border. Several of them lifted their heads and gazed at her quizzically. She gave a tenative wave, trying to pick out the two she knew. She only recognized Boulder because of her bell. One of the bucklings was trying to mount what looked like another buckling. "Enjoy it while you can" she said out loud.

She focused on the woods at the other end of the island, stretching from cliff to cliff with only a small, shadowy trail through the glade. Suddenly she didn't want to go investigate the beehives or the hot springs. She told herself it was the distance she'd have to walk, not being afraid of that closed rank of tall, sunblocking trees. She returned to the goat barn and took a thorough inventory of its contents, rooms, and functions, climbing into the hayloft where the bales looked low in number and rooting through the drying room. She carried the pile of used milking rags to the laundry cistern, ran hot water over them and set them to soak in disinfectant while she went on.

She took a basket with her to the chicken house. She found four eggs that were not quite dry from laying and thus presumably fresh. She found a large quantity of overlooked eggs stashed in rebellious nests under boxes and in corners. She gathered all these potentially very rotten eggs carefully and carried them to the cliff nearest the privy, tossing them over the edge to the water below. By the time she was done, she could hear a screaming flock of seabeaks come to feast, and one actually tried to catch one of her throws in mid air. She took the four good eggs back to her cold box.

She next made a list of every tree on this end of the island. She loosened her gilet and filled it with pecans fallen on the ground, the top layer figs from an ancient-looking tree but the fruit was delicious -- she ate one as she walked. She carried these back to the kitchen and realized she'd need bread for tomorrow. She didn't have time or energy to make a sponge and let it rise. Instead, she scrubbed out a bowl and pan while the small packet of cranberry raisins that had been in the abbas' hamper soaked in mixture of oil and fruit vinegar, after she sniffed both bottles to make sure they had not gone bad. She added dried corn to this mix, beat eggs into it, and cleaned a second bowl for her dry ingredients of corn meal, rice flour, baking powder, and pecans ground into meal with the mortar and pestle that had to be scrubbed hard from its last use. She poured this batter into two pans and set it to bake before heading for the tillage.

Overgorwn with weeds, what a surprise. She pulled onions and carrots, filled a basket with salad greens, and noted the scarcity of herbs, even basic ones. Back at the kitchen, she scrubbed several potatoes and put them to bake alongside the cornbread. She ran the milkrag wash through an agitation cycle, rinse, and then through the mangle before carrying the load to the barn, where clotheslines were strung in the fruit drying room instead of racks for fruit. By the time she hung them up, the bread was done and her feet were screaming for her to sit down.

Instead, she pulled all the dry ingredients and canisters from the larder and set them on the table. She began checking for freshness. To her dismay, she found a heavy infestation of weevils and moths in most of the baking supplies, and mold in a lot of the grains and beans. She wearily got an empty feed sack from the barn and filled it with spoiled food, carried it to the compost, and discovered the compost heap had a nasty layer of anaerobic material below the remains of Ferk's pallet. She got the fork and spread out the debris, turning it until she reached a healthy lower layer. She sprinkled it with the flours and grains, wet it down, and returned to the kitchen.

She filled the sink with soapy water and washed all the now empty canisters and jars, then scrubbed out the larder. She went to the tillage and found enough pennyroyal and rosemary to make a tincture, mashing it and mixing it with oil to line the edges of the shelves. She refilled the sink and washed every dish and pot in the cupboards, noting a real dearth of good cooking pots and serving bowls. Just enough for one, and nothing fancy at that she thought. She must not have had company often.

While the dishes dried, she washed down the cupboards in the cabin and spread more anti-bug oil on those metal shelves. She dragged her trunk into the cabin and began unpacking it, the one open shelf with books. She got to her manteau and carefully unwrapped Ng's bowl, setting it on the center of the kitchen table along with the silver peppermill. She put sheets on her bed and covered them with her blanket and quilt. She hung her manteau and burzaka, then sat on her bed staring into the empty trunk at the few items remaining -- toiletries, a few photos, her wind-up alarm clock, a plug-in flash. She noticed a flat metal box underneath the photo frames, and lifted it out, unable to remember what she had packed in it. When she opened it, a heady mix of scents billowed out at her: The multiple small comparments of the box were filled with the most precious spices Skene had to offer, plus teas and different types of peppercorns.

She remembered Prl helping her pack, asking if she wanted to put some bags of flours and grain in her trunk. Pyosz had said with deep scorn "I'm going to Pya, emma, the breakbasket of Skene, I'm not about to starve." Prl had closed her mouth tightly and left the room. She must have slipped back in and added the spice box underneath.

Pyosz burst into tears, leaning over the aroma to breathe it in as she sobbed. Prl had knew better than she what sort of difficulty she might be about to encounter. She wanted to go to the radio and call her on the spot, but she couldn't remember the time difference from this end; she was too tired again to do simple math. She closed the spice box and set it beside her pillow for the time being. She pushed the trunk into the corner, propped photos frames of her family open on it, along with the other items, and changed the alarm to Pya time. With dread, she set it to wake her up the following morning at 4 a.m. She stood again with a moan, walked out to the kitchen, put the spices beside the bowl and peppermill, plugged in her rechargeable flash, and slowly, numbly, put away the clean dishes.

It was getting late in the afternoon. She looked toward the pasture gate and saw several goats standing there, floppy ears slightly raised. She repressed the urge to start crying again and limped to the gate. Goats flooded toward her kitchen and the open cabin door. Yelping with pain, she chased them, flapping her hat to shoo them away from her newly-ordered domain. Curds gave a shriek and disappeared under the bed. Boulder had gone straight into the barn, and after five painful minutes of running around, with vile cursing, the miscreants -- all of whom were either adorable kids or soon-to-die bucklings, Pyosz noticed -- were bullied back into the barn. She shut the door and leaned against it, closing her eyes briefly with a sensation of dizziness.

When she opened her eyes again, a buff-colored goat was edging up to her sideways. "Are you ready to be milk -- oh, no you don't, you shitter, I recognize you, Molars. I'm going to use my molars to chew your roasted haunch before I leave Saya, you see if I don't!" yelled Pyosz. Molars calmly headed toward the milking area. Pyosz gathered supplies and sat down with her stool against the wall, making sure she milked Boulder first.

After an hour, the shadows outside were getting alarmingly long. Pyosz set aside her gear in the drying room and shut the door, and hobbled to the kitchen. She put fisk and a little milk in two bowls. Ember headed directly into the cabin: She knows the routine, thought Pyosz. She put Ember's bowl at the foot of the bed and Curds' on her trunk. She had to go back to the table and pick up Curds, who struggled to get away when she started in the cabin with her. "I hope you got off the table today long enough to relieve yourself" said Pyosz, "because if you piss in my room, there'll be lev to pay." She set Curds by her bowl, but instead of eating, Curds turned to rumble at Ember. Pyosz backed out the door and shut it firmly.

She went to the chicken run and, for once, found animals giving her no trouble at all. They milled around her feet as she refilled watering and feeding dishes. "Do you know the threat of owls, too?" she askd them. There were a number of capons in the flock that she could only hope had at least been neutered as chicks. Many of the hens also looked so elderly, they not only weren't laying, they probably would only be fit for stewing. "Next week" she told herself.

She returned to her milking. She went into a kind of trance state, which was the only way she could keep from focusing on the growing burn in her hands, forearms, and shoulders. She realized she should have been drinking lots of water all day, to flush out the toxins released by new muscle development. Two hours later, she was done. She put the cans in the cold box, left a single light on in the barn, and carried another load of dirty milkrags to the laundry cistern. She sat down at the table, feeling filthy and feverish. She lay her head on her arms and never even noticed when she dropped off.

She woke up to a voice saying "Are you okay?" Maar was standing in the now-dark kitchen, holding a wrapped package and looking at her with concern.

"Oh, lev, I must've gone to sleep" she said blurrily. "It's been a ghastly day, and I can't really tell what time it is any more."

"I remember feeling that way my first couple of days here" said Maar. She turned on tho overhead lamp and smiled at Pyosz with some worry still on her face. She had on pilot kalsongers, but her linen shati, untucked, was a faded blue-and-white check, without gilet, that did a lot more for her hair and coloring than sinner mustard. Pyosz felt like it had been weeks since she'd seen another human being.

"Some beautiful hamsa showed up at the fish docks today, and I brought you some thick filets" said Maar. "Have you eaten?"

"I'm not sure. Yes, I had lunch. Not dinner, which I guess is about now, right?" Pyosz stood with a wince and moved to the stove to put on water for tea. "How about you, have you eaten?"

"No, but I can grab something at the canteen -- " began Maar.

"Nonsense. I want you to be the first person I eat with on Saya, please don't say no." There was a real note of pleading in Pyosz's voice, she could hear it herself.

"Then I'll help you make dinner. You look about done in" said Maar.

"All right" said Pyosz. "Take that flash and go to the tillage, get whatever you want for a salad. I'll marinate this fish real quick." Maar found the garden basket and a knife, and headed off into the dark. Pyosz felt her heart lighten: A guest for dinner.

She opened the spice box and put two pinches of mustard seeds into her mortar, then dried tarragon and a dab of curry. She poured in oil and mashed it with salt. Adding the juice of one of the hampers' oranges, she poured this over the filets in a baking dish and set it aside.

She used another orange, some basil, oil, and lots of white pepper to make salad dressing. She cut up three of the baked potatoes, added paper thin slices of onion, and dressed it with an egg-yolk-and-yogurt recipe from her habibi Qen. She had earlier cut the cornbread into squares and now she spread them with butter. She cut up the second half of the onion and started it sauteeing in butter in a skillet. It was just starting to caramelize when Maar returned.

"Waves and ripples, it smells incredible in here!" Maar exclaimed.

"Onions, mostly" said Pyosz. "The fish will be done in ten minutes, why don't you wash the salad?" She lay the filets into the skillet and grinned at the aroma that hit her nostrils. Thank you, emma she thought. Curds began crying from behind the cabin door.

"How are the cats getting along?" asked Maar, going to the sink.

"Curds got her ear sliced open, and she's still in shock, rather" said Pyosz. "Well, so am I, actually."

"Why are you limping?" asked Maar.

"I wore my brand new otos for over a day without removing them, doing manual labor, and I've torn my feet to bloody stumps" said Pyosz, knowing she was exaggerating but wanting sympathy.

"You're wearing those because you can't get into your otos?" said Maar, looking at her feet. "Here, take those off and let me examine you."

"I soaked them in some magic stuff one of my abbas sent with me, and I put on medicine and bandages" said Pyosz. "I don't want to re-dress them tonight. But thanks. What did you do today?"

"Slept in" said Maar a little guiltily. "We had an extra day in Skene this run, after a double run because of Ferk, you know, and I worked a full shift there, so I was due a day off."

"Good for you" said Pyosz. The fish was ready for turning. She pointed to the mortar and said "The rest of that is for the salad. I didn't have time to make bread, but the cornbread ought to be pretty tasty."

Maar put a bowl of salad on the table and eyed the food already there. "Shall I set places for us?"

"Please. Whatever you can find, I don't think any two items match. And do you want tea or cold milk to drink?"

"Uh...water for now" said Maar. Pyosz again remembered her need to push water, and said "A big glass for me as well."

By the time she slid the crispy filets and sauce onto their plates, topped with onions, she was glad she'd cooked it all because she suddenly had her appetite back. "I also have cheese, if you want it" she said.

Maar said "This is a feast, I'm happy with what's on the table." They sat down and Pyosz drank her glass of water dutifully, watching over the rim of her glass as Maar took her first bite of fish. A wild grin spead across Maar's face. She grabbed a piece of cornbread and added a large chunk of it to what was already swelling her cheeks, then swiped her finger through the salad dressing and tasted it, too. Still chewing, she said "Your abbas taught you how to cook, didn't they?"

Pyosz blushed, she was so pleased. "They certainly did."

They ate every crumb, in a easy, companionable silence with occasional questions from Maar about ingredients. Pyosz refilled her water twice. When they were done, Maar sat back in her chair, her hand spread over her loose shirt, and said "That's the best meal I ever had on Pya, and I'm not kidding."

"I didn't have time to make any kind of afters" said Pyosz. Maar was starting to protest she was stuffed, but Pyosz continued "However, I still have a tin of my abbas' cherry-oatmeal cookies. I'm going to have a couple with a glass of milk."

"Oh" said Maar. "I can't turn that down. But then I'm doing the dishes."

"Deal" said Pyosz. And while Maar washed, Pyosz rested her feet on the other chair and asked her questions about Thleen.

"I was 12 when she was born, and there was something special about her from the get-go" said Maar over her shoulder. "I have two other sibus, both of whom teenagers now too, Adon and Su. But we never clicked like me and Thleen. It often feels like I'm her emma instead of a sib. And she's unbelievably smart, though her grades don't always show it. I've got her promise that she'll go to the U, I'm putting her through, although it means waiting another four years before she can join me here on Pya."

"You're 19, then, I take it. And she's what, six?"

"Seven" said Maar. "Strong as the dickens but not come into her height yet. I didn't, either, until high school. And she's quite the kickball player."

"So were you, weren't you?" remembered Pyosz. Maar turned around to grin at her as she said "Yep" with pride. Maar's grin was astonishingly transformative.

When Maar was done, she came back to the table and Pyosz lifted her feet off the chair with another groan.

"It hurts to move your feet even that much?" said Maar.

"No, it's my muscles. I leaned forward on my arms" said Pyosz.

"Do you have some kind of liniment?" asked Maar.

"More magic from the abbas, I'll rub it on when I go to bed" said Pyosz.

"Nope, I'm going to massage it into your shoulders, at least" said Maar, coming to stand behind Pyosz. "Where is it?"

"In the red box in that cupboard" said Pyosz.

"Take off your gilet and shati" said Maar. Pyosz complied, refusing to let herself be embarrassed. Maar rubbed lotion between her hands to warm it, then put her palms on Pyosz's shoulders and began a steady pressure down her trapezius. Pyosz groaned loudly, and felt flame come into her cheeks, but Maar was behind her and thankfully couldn't see. Maar took her time, working from superficial to deep with hands that were pilot strong and deft. By the end, Maar was leaned forward on the table again, still feverish but otherwise a puddle of release.

Maar went to wash her hands and came back holding Pyosz's shati, saying "You need to not get a chill."

"I don't want to put back on that stinking rag" said Pyosz. "I had thought about taking a shower with the solar tank, but I doubt there's enough hot water left. I'll have to sponge at the sink before I go to bed. But thunder me down, Maar, I feel like I got a replacement set of shoulders. I don't know how to thank you."

Maar looked bashful. At that moment, the radio beeped. Pyosz looked at her watch and said "I don't think -- maybe it's my family?" Maar handed her the radio so she wouldn't have to stand.

It was Mill. "How are you doing, sibiya?"

"Mill, it's been a day to remember. I have lots to ask you about, but right at the moment I have a guest -- "

"Yeah, Maar, I know. Did you like that hamsa?"

So Mill had sent Maar over to check on her, it hasn't been Maar's idea at all. Pyosz felt a crushing let-down. She said woodenly "Yes, it was very good. We ate it all."

"Well, then, I'll talk with you tomorrow. Sweet dreams" said Mill. When Pyosz hung up, she said "I guess I should be getting to sleep, I have goats at dawn, you know."

"Oh. Yeah, of course." Maar stood uncertainly, sensing Pyosz's mood shift but not knowing why. "Well, thanks for a spectacular dinner, I hope we can do it again sometime. I mean, I can't cook like that, but I'll help in other ways -- "

"That would be nice" said Pyosz. "Are you safe to walk down to the ferry?"

"Oh, I borrowed a lighter, I'm at the jichang. Okay, then. I hope you sleep well."

Pyosz forced herself to her feet. "Thanks again for the massage, Maar. Really, you saved me." They hugged awkwardly and Maar headed north into the dark. Pyosz waited until she heard the lighter take off, before stripping down to her waist and washing her torso with soap and water. She drank another glass of water, picked up the flash and first-aid kit, and prepared to battle Curds at the cabin door.

There were a few tufts of white hair here and there, but no new blood and no smell of voiding in the room. Ember was on the sill of the single window, staring out into the night. Curds was claiming possession of the bed. Pyosz had left the screened window open, dreading a hot night after the midday swelter inside the cabin. Instead, she found it distinctly chilly, and wondered if that was only fever. She went to the window and slid the glass shut, petting Ember and saying "I'm you're new human, if you haven't figured that out by now. I promise to learn to love you and take good care of you." Ember blinked once, silent and unreadable.

Pyosz realized her bladder was quite full. Cursing, she picked up the flash and backed out the door again. I'm not walking all the way to that privy she said to herself. She found a sandy spot between the kitchen and the rocky edge, squatted and was glad of her wellies from the torrent that pooled around her feet. She pulled herself back up with a groan and returned to the cabin, where Curds did her best to make a break for it. Pyosz wound up kicking her halfway across the room, crying out in pain as Curds' trunk landed squarely on a blister site.

There was no lock on the cabin door. She was on a vast expanse of land with no other human beings within earshot, and who actually knew what could be living in those woods? She forced her thoughts away from that, away from her comfortable room off the kitchen at the Genist Manage, and especially away from her emma and abbas. She put on her schmatta, took off her wellies and sokken without looking at her feet, and slid into sheets that smelled like home, even if the pallet didn't. She checked her alarm twice, then turned off the flash.

The dark was intense. She whispered "Ember, will you tell me if you see something coming?" Curds jumped onto the bed and began meowing her "I need to go out" cry. Pyosz buried her head under her pillow and tried to ignore everything by calculating square roots of random numbers. She fell asleep with Curd's cries still seeming to rattle the metal walls, with a slight sound of the breeze outside making a disconcerting rustle.

She woke up two hours later, shivering with chills. Or maybe she was just cold. She got up to grab her manteau and realized she had to pee again. No way was she going back out. She pulled the stained old chamberpot from under the bed, took another long piss, and wrapped herself in the manteau before getting back under the covers. She tried to get Curds to join her, but Curds was prowling the cabin incessantly. After ten minutes of rigors, Pyosz went back to sleep from sheer exhaustion.


Buckling -- Immature male goat older than two months of age.
Doeling -- Immature female goat older than two months of age.
Hamsa -- A firm white fish with delicate flavor, very popular on Skene.
Schmatta -- Nightgown, long-sleeved and of wool for cold weather, short-sleeved and of linen for warm weather; comes down to mid calf
Yagi -- Skene island in the Western Tendril dedicated to goat herding and cheese-making.

© 2009 Maggie Jochild.


Blue said...

Crotch-brain! Love it!

Anonymous said...

Ours is an envionment where evil is perceived to be rewarded while good is punished. As with everything the Gods have a reason for creating this perception::::
People who fall on the good side of the good/evil scale have more favor, and when they do something wrong the Gods punish them BECAUSE THEY WANT THEM TO LEARN. The Gods want them to receive this feedback in hope they make corrections and begin to behave appropriately. The Gods DON'T like evil and refuse to grant this feedback.
EVERYBODY pays for what they do wrong, only evil people must wait until their next life before they will experience the wrath of the Gods, manifested in their reincarnation as a lower form of life into environments with increased/enhanced temptations.
Sadly, this allows the Gods to position this perception of evil rewarded as temptation, one which they use as an EXTREMELY effective corruptor.

Both Africa and the Medittereanean are regions which have sexual issues. This is a sign of morbid disfavor once you understand that females are the God's favored gender. Muhammad's (Mohammed's) polygamy halfway through his life as a prophet was preditory. Now a huge percentage of Muslims believes in male superiority and that the abuse of women is God's will. Female genital mutilation is still practiced in Africa. Black misogyny is the most eggregious example in the recent past.
Black member size is temptation to a predisposed population.
The patriarchal cancer spread throughout Europe because of Christianity, of which the majority of policy makers were Italian men.

Militancy in Africa is consistant with the Iraqi example, as was slavery and the KKK here in America:::Fear enforces proper behavior. Without it we see what happens as a result of gross/morbid disfavor:::::AIDS, crack babies, dead young men in gangland retaliation killings. This is the purpose behind many black's historical tendancy towards resistance.
The same principle was true in Europe and throughout the world for centuries:::People whom lived under iron fists were conditioned to think the right way. As a result they experienced higher numbers of children accend into heaven because they were taught to think and behave appropriately. Our preditory envionment of "freedom" was the primary purpose the Gods had when implimenting this strategy that is the United States, one which they used to spred the cancer of democracy and westernization throughout the world. And the Gods use this tool that is America to prey on the disfavored both at home and abroad.

Even the Old Testiment is not to be taken literally, but the Gods do offer clues throughout to help the disfavored:::The apple is a tool of temptation used to corrupt Adam and Eve and cast them out of the Garden of Eden.
There is another lesson to be learned from this passage, and it is quite similar to the vailing issue and the discourse over women's attire which ultimately died in the 70s:::Women are responsible for and control the fate of mankind.

Think about what I say. Consider what I teach. Society is going to become disturbingly ugly as we approach the Apocalypse due to spiralling, runaway disfavor.
I do not know when this will occurr, but it is the God's way to grant some time before they end on Planet Earth.
Make the decision to always be good and never look back. Until you do this technology will employ tactics to test your resolve:::Ridicule, beligerance, doubt and refusal to abandon what people perceive to be their "investment".
Pray daily. Think appropriately. Too many are confident, unaware of the God's awesome powers or their status as antients. Others may fall prey to their positioning.
Be humbled, God-fearing and beware of the God's temptations, for everyone is tested to evaluate their worthiness.

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