Aneti and I went to ler home, and we had sex.
I need to remember the way there again, so here are the directions: From the Progressive Movement’s office, walk outside, turning left. It takes fifteen minutes to reach the Blossom Sun Skyrail Terminal, one of the linking places between the Sky and Berry Lines (just a note — one of the lines will be renamed after a god soon). Take Sky to Waterside Plaza, the fourth stop on the express, and switch to the Riverside Line. Nikasa Street’s stop is number six.
Here, all of the trees bend and twist around one another like souls in agony. I know that that sounds weird, especially given the reason I’m doing this, but it’s the first thing I thought of. The temples smell like burning cakes and oils. I remember it now from the first time I saw Aneti in ler ancestral home. When I left that morning, the streets twisted me this way and that like a doll on a string, and I had to use my band to navigate. Masija Temple faces the Skyrail exit here.
A priestess in one of the Lijai Street temples knows Aneti. This is the street where Aneti lives. The priestess is young and smiled at lim for a little bit too long.
I don’t know why I wrote that here, Liga.
Aneti lives in a seven-story family home, one of those that barely scrapes under the building code limits. Ler family must have built up instead of to the side so many centuries ago, and it stands out among the other buildings. The code le punched into the door is 0-11-6-10 in Tveshi base twelve.
Le took me around the side of the house and upstairs. I met ler mother and one of ler siblings. Neither stood out. Ler family might not even know that le has switched affiliations to Daybreak. I looked them up at work today. The matriarch of that family is a major supporter of the Progressive Movement.
We helped ourselves to the cold afternoon spread in the kitchen — reheated flatbreads and a variety of meat, fruit, nut, and green sauces arranged in little bowls. My favorite was the marinated dried fish. It’s less elaborate than a Narahji aftermeal, but in Tveshi, aftermeal and afterthought share the same root. And the majority of ler family speaks Galasuhi Tveshi at home, which is almost identical to what we speak at work. I called the bowls “cute,” and a young boy in the kitchen asked me what we do. Le called that “cuter.”
Two young men in the kitchen made small talk with us. You can listen to the recording if you like, but there’s not much of interest.
Aneti has a small closet of a room, which le does not share with cousins or siblings — much like what I have now in the apartment, just a small space for a bed, wardrobe, built-in shelves, and thin wall table. Aside from yesterday, it is the first time that I have thought about our age difference: Aneti must have ler own room because most adults move to a spousal room by the age of twenty-three.
When le closed the door behind us, I saw a flowering tree painted on it in a wild, looping brush style, so colorful that it almost looks worthy of Canyon art. Le had a small shrine in one wall with the ashes of offerings, a fume-bowl for ćukuseh, and a small package of ćas cigarettes. I had never seen ćas before, but I heard stories from my grandfather about growing up on the South Islands on Atara where they grow it. Aneti has left hints about anxiety, and that underscores it. My grandfather says that ćas smoke smells good. Anxiety meds do not.
On the shrine, I saw an icon of a white goddess holding ten balls, one for each color of the rainbow, and then a neutral, opaque-sky hue around each one. Constellations glowed around the icon.
Again, I looked this up: Some Galasuhi do keep private shrines in their bedrooms, typically a shared god of a couple or set of siblings or cousins. In Narahja, the practice would be antisocial.
Quotations cover most of Aneti’s other walls: song lyrics, verses from sacred texts, and political statements. Here are some of the more interesting ones:
- Already le dances in the breeze, heartbeat praising ler beloved.
- The perfect form of divine worship is self-contemplation.
- When you know who you are, the mask of the world is cast aside and you can acknowledge the source of all of this.
- Though individuals may be sacrificed, the forest of humanity still remains, and the mission is divine.
The first two come from the end of Impermanence, and the other two are things that Sehịnta said in state documents from the first century. A few other phrases on the walls made me look away quickly:
- The state must be made to kneel.
- Power lies in the heart of the thousand suns and fires that consumed Menarka and that Enahari has kept waiting for us.
- Humanity must recognize that we are not in control. Do we grant ourselves humility, or is it given to us in times of submission?
- Take back the night sky.
I touched the last sentence with my fingertips. The paint gave a bit. Le must have written it within the past two days.
Aneti watched me. I approached lim and offered a kiss. “You are really intellectual,” I whispered, “and I like it. You never said that you liked literature or that you did art.”
Le smirked, let go of me, and set ler bag down. The seriousness in ler eyes chilled my heart, but I felt hard, and I wanted to have sex. I knotted my gyena around my hair while le watched me, and I pulled lim down onto the bed. A Narahji girl would have said, “It looks like we are engaged.” Aneti doesn’t know what knots in a gyena mean.
After we had sex, we went to one of the dance halls in the neighborhood, and I went home.
I do regret one thing.
Aneti had a spare key to ler room on a table, just barely visible beneath ler paints.
I regret that I did not take it. I regret that I was too weak to just do what I have to do to finish this. Of course, ler eyes tracked me the entire time. Short of taking ćas and ćukuseh with lim — but only if the spirits within those substances spurn me, an impossible thing — I don’t know how I will ever twist my way into ler private documents.