SEASONS OF THE GODS 1
Gabrielle knew there was a problem. She watched
her darktressed lover lay the phone back on its hook slowly, deliberately.
Xena turned around, her nostrils were flaring.
Her expression pained. Her voice was distant.
"She's taking an intersession class." Her
hands were curled into tense fists at her side. "She's not coming
back." In a sudden rage, she whipped around, grasped the phone and
tore it off the wall. The phone clanged helplessly against the floor.
"Gods." Her legs gave way until her knees folded into the carpet.
She rubbed her palms against the fabric of her jeans, desperately
trying to assuage the pain that started to tingle there. "How can
she stay away like this? How can she?" There was a desperate edge
to Xena's voice. Her body trembled in a mix of rage and vulnerability.
Gabrielle knelt besides her love and pulled
Xena close. She captured Xena's hands in her own and turned them up.
Gently gently she caressed the brand and soothed. Her own hands shook
a little. They carried the same markings. But she was a goddess and
she had Xena. Gabrielle pressed her body against the familiar one
next to her and let her energy caress the woman in her arms.
Xena accepted the relief that was pouring
in her body and leaned against her sweetheart. "We can't let this
go on." She turned her body so that it was touching more of Gabrielle.
"We can't." She freed her hands and pressed them against the redhead's
waist. She looked into stormy hazel eyes. Her body ached with need.
She kissed the goddess fiercely, and then again, and again. She
knew better than to resist now, but she almost never resisted with
Soon they were up in their room. Their clothes
were strewn about the floors and stairs below. Xena and Gabrielle
had loved this way more often lately. Their minds and bodies were
in primal need, so their lovemaking was hungry and demanding. They
found relief in each other, but they missed their tender interludes.
Xena slept in Gabrielle's arms. This was
also new. This sense of exhaustion dragged on them. Things that
should have been effortless became strenuous. Gabrielle found herself
looking at the far wall.
She studied the large painting. It was a
gift from one of their patrons. An offering. The frame was simple,
a dark wood grain emphasizing the colors contained within. It was
beautiful romantic piece. A portrait of herself and Xena looking
out a window into the golden dawn. She was dressed in flowing green
robes that were partially open with Xena's hand resting casually
against her skin as they leaned against each other. Gabrielle's
image was regal, commanding and soft at the same time. She held
a golden staff and a scroll. Xena's image wore her ancient battle
armor with her sword sheathed. The portrait managed to capture Xena's
wildness, intelligence and tenderness all at the same time. Even
though they leaned into each other, the figures stood proud. Their
expressions were loving and peaceful. It was a beautiful gift, from
a lovely gallery owner.
But it disturbed her. Daily, Gabrielle would
find herself caught up in the painting, trying to figure out what
was different about it. The painting's colors were bright and somber
at the same time. There was a sense of flow, as if time were passing
in the painting, as if it changed overnight. Not a whole lot, barely
discernible, but that sense of difference would overtake her and
she would search and search.
This time, as she eyed the painting from
distance, her eyes seemed to telescope on two details she hadn't
noticed before. The first, was the window the figures were gazing
at. She remembered that there had been figures in the window before,
or more importantly a figure. And a painted description of an outside
world full of hills and forests and pathways. Gabrielle extricated
herself from Xena's slumberous grasp and approached the painting.
She pulled a chair from behind a desk, so
that she could stand closely, and really examine what she was seeing.
Xena woke up to the noise the chair made, but crawled out of bed,
when Gabrielle signaled her. Xena held the chair still as Gabrielle
clambered up to get her closer look.
It took her a moment, but it was there. It
had always been there. A small womanly shaped figure that had been
distancing itself so that it was almost unseeable, almost gone.
And she knew what had been strange about the painting. That figure
had been, at one time, the focal point. But it was fleeing now.
Gabrielle touched the painting. Her tip of
her index finger completely covered the woman's body. Then the finger
trailed its way to the signature, which was barely visible against
the painted surface, blending into it, as if to disappear from sight.
Gabrielle looked to Xena. She closed her
eyes. "So close. So evident. And we nearly missed it. All of it."
Her breath came out as a soft sigh. "So insolent. So audacious."
She stepped down off the chair into Xena's arms. "Lets go get her
and bring her back where she belongs." She glanced up at the painting,
"Before its too late."
Walking on Glass
The kata's intricate move pulled her along,
even though each step was as piercing as stepping on a billion sharpened
nails. She had become used to the sensation though, and almost welcomed
it when she got out of bed each morning. It was a reminder that,
yes, she was still alive.
One foot here and the other there, knees
slightly bent, trunk and hips settled, letting the sword move with
the motion of the body. Feeling the sweat trickle painfully down
She had taken to wearing the least amount
of clothing possible, or at least the loosest. But the sweat made
her robes cling sometimes and the robes cut like knives when they
made startling contact when dry.
There was no intersession class. She couldn't
hardly bear to sit on a chair anymore. Yet there were times when
she sat for hours upon end and it was pure relief. It was not knowing
which it would be that caused her the most problems. It had been
an agony to stay until the end of the semester. It was the first
time that she thought seriously of dropping out.
When she had first arrived back in town she
was so ready to tackle college again. The classes seemed easy after
being tutored by Athene. When she was Bernie, she felt kind of blissfully
aware that she was someone else, but she never really held onto
the vision of herself as Brigid. When she was Brigid, she knew who
she was completely, the only drawback being that some of Brigid's
early memories from when she returned from camp were fuzzy.
She had an incredible amount of energy as
Brigid. She would sleep deeply, but only for four or five hours,
with an occasional eight just for the sake of a weekend. Her dreaming
was intense too, which is what led her to making works of art. It
started simply enough.
She had gone into a school supply store;
the kind with colorful teacher aids, like bulletin board liners,
or kits or games. Her eye got caught in the children's art section.
Tempera paints and brushes (some of which were huge.) She forgot
why she was there (a presentation project) and bought every color
available, some brushes and paper.
Her paintings started out like visual haikus;
simple forms on paper, colorful dots, primitive urges. They took
on a life of their own and her style matured in sudden leaps of
consciousness. She spent a bundle of money on supplies. Her paintings
This coincided with the research she was
doing. She started with women and mythology, became enamored with
the Pennsylvania Dutch and their hexes, and drifted into the new
photography (which really had nothing to do with her work, but it
just fascinated her). When she was reading about women and mythology
she found herself drawing and painting images relating to her experiences
at camp. When she learned about the Pennsylvania Dutch she began
quilting. In the middle of that quilting experience, she had an
awareness of why she was doing it, and started putting in as many
hex symbols for peace and love and safety she could think of, plus
a few more symbols of similar nature that had nothing to do with
hexing, but meant the same thing. When the quilt was done, it was
a huge, colorful, meaningful mess. But it was done and she gave
it to Joni as a gift.
There were several life altering events that
happened during the conclusion of the semester. One was the belly
button piercing event (Joni's idea totally. "Oh come on, It'll be
bonding. . . Oh no, it won't hurt, not much anyway. You know you
want to. . .") So now Brigid had a hoop through her navel and Joni
had a barbell looking thingy, to go along with her leather girl
look that she had recently been adopting. Another was the night
she stepped into the art gallery.
Again, it seemed happenstance. She was window
shopping downtown and passed the gallery. There had been other times,
when she had viewed the artwork in the window and passed on. But
suddenly she really wanted to see more. What she saw was Clarisse,
the gallery owner.
The attraction was mutual.
It was during one of their evenings that
Clarisse discovered some of Brigid's artwork, which she had been
keeping in a closet. Brigid was mortified at first, since she really
had no intention of sharing them. But Clarisse fell instantly in
love with the paintings and wanted to represent her. Clarisse was
especially adamant about the one piece that Brigid most definitely
did not want to sell.
This particular piece was a painting of Gabrielle
and Xena. She made it during her quilting time. She had realized
that if one could create a work of power in a quilt, then one could
do it with a painting. So she had worked with intention. She poured
all her grief, love and desire into the painting and she sealed
it with a kiss. Some of the aches that she had been feeling lately
seemed to disappear.
Clarisse selected a few pieces for her gallery,
(most of the pieces having to do with Goddesses) and she straight
out bought the painting for more money than Brigid had seen in a
lifetime. No more poor college student days.
It was the end of the semester. Finals were
in a week. Brigid moved.
There were some good reasons for this. Her
apartment was too small to perform the katas right. Her foot kept
getting caught on the carpet. Her artwork was taking over, especially
now that she had moved into sculpture. She couldn't find the phone
anymore. Oh, and she had the means.
She found a place that was just outside of
the city; close enough to drive to a grocery store, but far enough
that the noise no longer grated on her. By now, everything had become
painful, even making love to Clarisse, which had been a release
. . .for awhile. Brigid was starting to hobble and when she was
Bernice, she couldn't hide the stress that etched itself into her
face. This had Joni worried, so Bernie/Brigid told her it was finals.
The new place became a haven. Joni went home
after school, telling Bernie to get some rest. Brigid did just that.
Her morning meditations were what finally
saved her. She got to where she would surrender to the pain. There
had been a point when the sensations had almost been orgasmic to
her, but that had long since passed. Now, when she would do the
katas she would relax her body and breathe with each tiny movement
of her muscles. She would imagine directing the pain into her hands
or down through her legs or into her sword. She stuck to the basics
and they became powerful.
Once, when she directed all her pain into
her sword, and she had followed through with a lightning fast cut,
the wall of her practice room shattered. There were bits and pieces
of wood and plaster everywhere. It was a startling experience. She
knelt on the floor and pieced the wall together, but it was never
the same. It would no longer support even a picture. It was just
the appearance of wall. She was careful afterwards, not to put every
particle of pain into one object or movement. She began to concentrate
on the flow, until she could move the energy anywhere she wanted
it to go.
She knelt formally and shook the sword to
rid it of imaginary blood. Her mind was peaceful and her body had
a brief respite.
It was here that one of Bernie's camp memories
blazed into her consciousness.
She realized that she had been an incredible
fool and let out a relieved sob.
Packing was easy. She grabbed some clothes
and a bit of food. She set the message on her machine, made sure
all the electrical items were off, locked her door and was in her
car in about a half hour.
Driving would be terrible, but it would get
beep beep beep beee...
"Hey Cookie. Its Aunt Jan. Thought you ought
to know that Veronica's disappeared again. Mel says that she's been
hanging around with that smart aleck blonde guy. She also says that
she wants to meet your girlfriend. The one you never send photos
of, or invite over. Mel's planning on some other tofu monstrosity
... *almost nonhearable thwack* I mean a filling vegetarian
meal next Saturday. Try and make it and bring your sweetheart okay...Give
us a call.
Joni sighed back into the lawnchair. The
bikini hid nothing, especially the small piece of decoration on
her belly. The sun felt marvelous. It made her feel slinky, like
a cat. Joni caressed her stomach lightly and closed her eyes. A
grin tugged at her lips.
Her mom and dad were used to the changes
their daughter went through. But sometimes the look on their faces,
when she tried something new was just too precious. When she arrived
home, wearing a halter top, leather skirt and flat boots, her mom
focused on one thing. The belly button. It had been hysterical and
worth the piercing.
She played with the silver item, flicking
it back and forth, sometimes twirling it in her fingers. Yes, it
had been priceless.
An image of Bernie filtered into her brain.
Bernie had seemed so tired and worn. Not like herself at all. *I
probably ought to call her* Hopefully, she was resting from finals.
Something odd was going on with that girl. Something Joni couldn't
quite put her finger on what was different, but there definitely
Like that quilt.
Now that quilt was different. Joni wasn't
quite sure how she managed not to burst into laughter when Bernie
had so solemnly given it to her. It was the ugliest damned thing.
Colorful but ugly. But what was odd, was how it made her feel. She
wouldn't part with that blanket for all the money in the world now.
Up till Bernie had given her the quilt, Joni
had experienced nightmares at least once a night. It was always
and never the same. She would dream that she became a monster. Full
of hate. Thrilling at the sight of blood. Sometimes she would wake
up, and she wouldn't recognize herself, like there was someone else,
waiting to get out. A crazymaker.
When she was a kid, mom or dad would comfort.
Sometimes they would stay with her all night. Now she just pretended
that she no longer had them. She'd started that when she was about
twelve. It seemed so long ago. She'd gotten to where she would dream
the nastiness, wake up, and then fall back into a deep slumber.
It was a routine she grew accustomed to.
But the quilt had changed that.
It had been a hectic night for Joni. She
was part of a group assignment and she had finally completed the
typing part. It was about midnight. She felt exhausted. So exhausted
that she didn't want to have to traipse all the way to bed, so she
settled on the couch. She looked at the unopened box that Bernie
gave her and thought briefly about not being a lazy wench. Then
she thought, I'm cold. The answer was obvious. She pulled
the quilt out and over and laid down. The next thing she knew, it
was morning and she felt Wonderful!
It worked on the bed too, or when she sat
in a chair and curled up watching television. As it got warmer,
she left the airconditioner higher than normal, so that the quilt
felt comfortable. It was the first thing she put in the car when
she went home and the first thing she brought into the house. She
felt like a child, in a sense, hanging onto a security blanket.
But it wasn't quite like that, because it seemed to work for other
people too. When her sister-in-law came over with the baby, who
had been fussy all day because of a fever, they'd laid her on the
quilt (because it was available) and the baby went right to sleep.
Of course the Wendy wanted the blanket after that, but there was
no way Joni would part with it.
Even just thinking about it made her feel
It was the best gift she'd ever received.
One of these days, she would remember to
thank Bernie for it.
Seasons of the Gods
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