I am back. Being away was good, being away from the Web was good although I missed my blog and you my dear readers. So I have returned with a story I have just written. I am not used to present tense so this may be a little awkward but it is good to try something new.
Sun is shining from a blue sky. The air is hot, the cool breeze brings a whiff of life to the Island. The vast ocean is stretching to the horizon.
There I am, standing on the cliff, looking at the sea, wind in my hair. My body is still aching, still stiff after the Festival. My head is still humming with the sound of the drums and piping of the flutes.
I turn around and walk up the steps to the pavilion. My head is still full of images from the temple. I remember the priestesses and the dancers, how they twisted and turned their bodies, how the light from the torches was reflected in the skin of their dancing bodies.
I remember the red haired girl, standing before the altar, in front of the priestesses, a wreath in her hair, naked as the day she was born. I can still see how the shadows danced on her body, leaving it dark, letting it show and how beautiful she was, beautiful because she was naked.
I reach the pavilion but no one is there. Maybe we have no lectures on days after the Festival. I am alone. I stand there, waiting, not daring to sit down, sensing it a show of disrespect to sit down before she is here.
I am sad that we will not do any readings, any studies. I am sad that she is not here. I am sad that I may not behold her in her delight. She is a queen, a ruler of poetry, a master of words and no one can make my thoughts fly like she can.
She is like the Goddess taken flesh and her beauty is strange. I have never seen a woman like her. She walks with pride, her stride is that of confidence. There is no hesitation in her. How I admire her confidence, her strength and her passion.
There is nothing strange with that. She is the Goddess taken flesh and why shouldn't a goddess be confident?
Her body is that of a woman and like no other woman I have seen. Her lips are sharp as steel and full as a flower. Her neck is like a pillar. Her eyes are old as the ocean but lively as a fire that lives and dies in a fleeting moment. The curve of her bosom is as sweet as a wave and there is a strength in that breast that surpasses the bravest of soldiers but is still as soft and gentle as the mother of all things living.
And her hips are like music, slender and light as the feather but sensitive like the music she plays and the poems she recites.
And I tremble as I think of her body and the way my heart beats faster and my cheeks are flustered as I look upon her. I am ashamed that my thoughts are on her bosom and not solely on her words.
'You alone have come,' says a voice behind me.
I spin round and suddenly I look upon her, my teacher, my goddess.
'I have come for the reading and the studies,' I reply, my voice thin, trembling.
'You alone have come for that, the other girls are sleeping. I let them sleep after the Festival but you have come. Why have you come?'
'I have come for the reading.'
'For the reading alone?'
'No, Teacher,' I say, my voice trembling, 'I have come for You.'
'For me? Why have you come for me?'
'I wouldn't miss a day of studies with You.'
'Such devotion but I wonder what really brought you here. Come and sit down and tell me about the Festival!'
I walk on trembling legs on the cold marble and sit down on the bench beside her, but not too close. The stone is cold against my thighs, bared in the short tunic I wear.
'Tell me, my child, what did you like the most?'
'I liked the drums and the pipes and the dancing in the temple.'
'The invocation of the Goddess?'
'Yes, Teacher, the invocation.'
'Tell me, little one, what did you like the most!'
'I liked the little girl.'
'Innocence? The red haired girl at the altar?'
'Yes, Teacher, Innocence.'
'Tell me about her!'
'You were there, Teacher, you saw her.'
'Yes, I was there, but did we see the same? Please, tell me about her!'
'She was so beautiful. She was so, very, naked.'
'She is Innocence, she is Beauty, she is Love.'
'Yes, Teacher, she is.'
I sit in silence for a while, lost for words.
'You are lost in thoughts, little one, tell me what bothers you!'
'Teacher, I don't know why, but I envy her, I envy her standing there in front of everyone.'
'Yes, Teacher, being naked.'
'Would you wish to stand in front of us all, naked, as the day you were born?'
'I am too old, I am seventeen.'
'Innocence, Beauty and Love has not left you. You are precious, little one. Know that! Never forget that!'
She rises to her feet and walks over to the side of the pavilion that overlooks the sea.
'Come, my child! Stand by my side. I want to show you something.'
I rise to my feet and stand beside her.
'Look at the Sea! Look at the waves. They continue their dance forever. We live but a short while. We are human. We blossom and we die. The Goddesses and Gods, the waves and the Earth, live forever. We are just specks of dust compared to them and we can do nothing but worship them, worship that which is eternal. We get a glimpse of that which is eternal by looking at the Sea, burn incense to the Goddess and enjoy the life we have been given. The girl you saw yesterday, she is just a human, with a human body and she symbolises Innocence, Beauty and Love but she was more than that. She was Innocence, Beauty and Love, because she carries in her, in her body some of that which is eternal and we all do. You do, I do and being who you are is a celebration of the Goddess. The love you feel, the desire you feel, the joy and elation, even the sorrow and pain you feel, are all parts of the Divine, that which the Goddess shows us and gives to us. By living, breathing, loving and desiring to be you, naked or clothed, alone or looked upon is a celebration of that which the Goddess bestowed upon us.'
I stand in silence looking at her and in that moment she is more beautiful than I have ever seen her. She is like the Sea, like the Wind and the Sun and I can do anything for her, do anything just to be with her.
'Teacher,' I say, 'are you a Goddess?'
'Yes, my child, I am a Goddess. I am of the Goddess. But so are you.'
She takes a step towards me and I turn to her. I sense the marble of the pillar against my back.
She is close now. I have never been this close to her before. I draw my breath. I cannot breathe. I am lost. I look at her but lower my gaze. I look at her bosom. It is heaving.
Then she touches me. I gasp. I hold my breath. She touches me. I lean back against the pillar. I close my eyes. I sense her hand on my hip, how it slides under my tunic, how it glides over my skin.
'Little one, you are blessed.'
I feel her hand slide in between my legs and I feel my heart beating violently in my chest. I lean my head against the hard marble as she lets her fingers slide into me.
I open my eyes and look out over the Sea. The waves are beating at the shore, relentlessly and in this moment I feel as if those waves reaches the pavilion, and the pillar I am leaning against. She is the Goddess and she is the Sea and they all touch me. I can but worship that which is eternal. I can but offer myself to that which is older and will live longer than me. I can only do what I am able to do. And that is to let me be touched by the Goddess. Be touched and surrender.
I close my eyes as the red wave overtakes me and I hear my own voice cry out, as if in agony, as my knees buckle and I slide, slowly, down the pillar.
She, my Teacher, is smiling at me. She takes my hand and helps me to my feet. I am trembling. I have been touched and I am lost. My head is dizzy.
She sits me down on the marble bench and she sits herself down beside me. She looks at me and I look back. She has never been more beautiful.
'There are no words for this. It just is.'
'But I want one more thing from you.'
I cannot speak. I have no words.
She reaches out her hand and unties the knot at my shoulder. My tunic falls down as she puts her hand on my neck. She touches me gently but I still gasp, my skin as sensitive as if I had no skin. Her hands traces a path over my shoulder, over my bosom, gently caressing my small breasts, touching my hard nipples, circling them before moving further down.
She reaches out her other hand, unties the rope around my waist, pulls my tunic down from my hips. I lift my body, helping her undressing me, letting my tunic slip away from my body, letting it glide away and down over my thighs. She strips me gently with a soft caressing movement.
I sit naked on the marble, the stone still cold and strong and unmovable. The stone is hard against my hot and soft skin and I feel naked against it, naked in the world, naked in the presence of the Goddess.
She looks at me, touches me, caresses me and lets her hands move over my body. There is no red wave but he joy of her sweet touch fills my body and it wants to burst. I want to sing, I want to dance. I want to scream. Is this what creates the songs and the dances and the Divine Poetry?
She touches my back and rests her hands on my lower back and moves down over my bottom.
'Oh, little one, these are marks of the whip, on your body. They are fresh. Have you been whipped?'
'Yes, Teacher, I was whipped yesterday morning.'
'Why were you whipped?'
'I was slow in bringing in the water.'
'It was well deserved then?'
'Yes, Teacher, it was.'
My mind goes back to that morning, when I had to take my tunic off and kneel to the whip and how one of the older girls had taken the Three Tongued Menace, as it was called and given me twelve hard strokes on my naked body. I remember how I screamed and how I cried.
'Little one,' she says, 'little one, I know it hurt. You had to strip naked and kneel to the whip. How many lashes did you get?'
'Twelve, Teacher, I got twelve.'
'How did it make you feel?'
'Was that all?'
'No, Teacher, that was not all,' I say blushing, 'I felt something else. I felt special. I could almost touch the sensation when they looked at me, when I knew they were all looking at me as I stripped off my tunic. It was as if they could see my fear, and touch my fear as I knelt for the whip. And when the whip fell I felt, almost, as if I was relieved that it hurt so much. I screamed and I cried and I knew they were watching. All my friends were watching and they heard my screams and they saw my body as it was whipped. And, Teacher, I liked it.'
'Little one,' she says and looks at me, 'little one, my girl, you are blessed. Living is not just pleasure and your pain is worshipping the Goddess too. You are alive, my child. You are a blessing and you are blessed.'
She leans forward and kisses my forehead.
'You are one of us now, little one, you are of this Island now.'
She rises to her feet and looks at me. I am still naked, still trembling, still overcome with emotions.
'This is enough reading for today, class is dismissed.'
She smiles and turns around and walks towards the stair.
At the stair she turns around and looks at me.
'It is a good thing, I think, a blessed thing, that you didn't stay in bed this morning, little one.'
She walks down the stairs and I sit alone in the pavilion, naked in the sun, bewildered and trembling, touched and blessed and shaken and happy beyond anything. I look at my tunic, lying by my side, on the marble and I don't want to dress. I want to stay naked. I want to celebrate the Goddess with my body, celebrate this life.
I sit for a while, looking at the Sea, the World, and I am still naked and I know that from this moment, I am of this Island, I am of the girls of this Island. And I am of the Goddess.