For those who haven’t been following this blog, let me introduce it a little. I am currently blogging my 21st novel that has the working title Daemon. The novel is about Aksinya, a sorceress, who, to save her family from the Bolsheviks, called and contracted the demon, Asmodeus. Her family was murdered anyway, and she fled with the demon from Russia to Austria.
Ernst returned Aksinya and Natalya to Aksinya's house. Aksinya is inhebriated, but not yet asleep. Natalya prepares her for bed...
Inside Aksinya’s room, Aksinya lay across her bed. Natalya undid the buttons and hooks on her dress. Aksinya was still awake, but her eyes were closed. Natalya pushed against her side, “Roll over Aksinya.”
Aksinya rolled with Natalya’s help. Natalya undid the rest of the buttons. She pulled the dress up and over Aksinya’s head. That was a struggle. The petticoats and underclothes came off more easily. When Natalya tried to put on Aksinya’s nightgown, Aksinya fended her off, “I’m hot. I don’t want to wear anything.”
“That’s the wine. You’ll be cold soon enough.”
“Just wait a bit. The room’s spinning.”
“That’s the wine too. Put your feet on the floor.”
“I’m dizzy. Why did you let me drink so much?”
Natalya snorted, “I didn’t have any say in it. You may remain like you are for the time being.” Natalya washed Aksinya’s face while she lay on the bed. She tugged Aksinya to sit and leaned against her back so she couldn’t flop back down. Natalya began to brush Aksinya’s hair, “Your hair is finally growing out a little.”
Aksinya clumsily brought her hands to her face, “Are you certain?”
“Yes, it is almost to your shoulders at the very back. It is beautiful hair—why did you cut it? You never told me.”
“I thought I did.”
“You didn’t. Was it part of your sorcery?”
Aksinya trembled, “Is it that obvious to you?”
“It was cut with a very sharp knife, snick-snack. Your aunt told me your hair once reached down to your waist. She said you used to put it in a long single braid and that it was the most beautiful hair she had ever seen.”
“My mother would brush it for me every night. She kept her hair short—I was never certain why. She loved to let my hair cascade through her fingers.”
“She loved you very much.”
“She loved my hair—me, not so much.”
Natalya tugged a little harder on the brush than she needed to, “Why would you say that?”
“Because I think it is the truth. Why do you brush my hair?”
Natalya smiled, “Because I love you.”
“Do you love me because of who I am or because of what I did for you?”
Natalya brushed a little harder.
“Ouch, you don’t have to be so rough.”
“If you weren’t drunk, I’d hit you with this brush.”
Aksinya didn’t turn, “Why are you crying?”
“Why does love have to be like a contract with you?”
Aksinya didn’t reply.
“I do love you because you rescued me, but there is much, much more. I love you because you were the first to look at me as if I was a real person.”
“Then you should not love me at all. Asmodeus found you. He convinced me to take you as my lady-in-waiting and… and… as my apprentice.” Aksinya clutched her hands to her small breasts, “He forced me to take you into my household. I would not have done it without his temptation.”
Natalya leaned her face against Aksinya’s back. Her hot tears trickled down Aksinya’s cooling skin, “But you did. You made me your friend. You let me go to school with you. You told me you loved me. I can offer you nothing, but still you do love me.”
Aksinya’s response was a mumble, “Yes, I love you, Nata.”
“Then why do you think I love you with any less love?”
“I’m sorry, Nata.” Akisnya’s voice was slurred, “There is a time when I know everyone will deny me.”
“I will not deny you.”
Her speech slowed a little more, “If you don’t deny me, then you will betray me. You see, I am not allowed love, and I am not allowed friends. I am only allowed suffering.” At the end, Natalya had to strain to hear her.
Natalya clasped Aksinya around her naked shoulders, “I will try my hardest not to deny or betray you, Mistress.” She held her tightly for a while. Aksinya’s breathing came slowly and regularly. Aksinya sagged in her arms. Natalya realized Aksinya was asleep. Into Aksinya’s lengthening hair she whispered, “I love you. I will never deny or betray you.”
Aksinya is in a state we have never seen her before. All her defenses are down. She doesn't care abut what she is saying. She doesn't care what she says. Natalya has taken control again. The indication of this is that she easily uses Aksinya's name while she undresses her.
Remember how embarrassed Aksinya was about her body. She is at the point that she doesn't care. She lays naked on the bed. This is a clear indicator. Do you see how experienced Natalya is with drinking and drunkeness. She knows all about it and all about what to do: put your feet on the floor. We learn more about Natalya.
Aksinya blames Natalya for her drinking. Aksinya knows that isn't true. She is out of control, and she realizes it, but like all of us, she grasps at someone else to blame. Natalya knows it is just the wine. She washes Aksinya's face and gets her ready for bed. Then...the hair. Did you catch that? Natalya says that Aksinya's hair is finally growing out. This goes directly back to the contract with the demon. Aksinya's question is our quesiton--does that mean she might be able to break her contract with Asmodeus. Look at Aksinya's reaction. Natalya has no idea the scab she is picking right now. She blunders directly into the place even the inhebriated Aksinya will not go. Aksinya lies--she knows she never told Natalya about her hair. Natalya rips the scab right off--she talks about what Aksinya's aunt said about Aksinya's hair in the past. This is a double slap to Aksinya: her aunt and her sorcery. Rembember Aksinya's hair was the thing she thought was the most beautiful part of her. Her aunt thought so too. This rubs everything in Aksinya's face on so many levels: her beauty, her sorcery, the contract with the demon.
Aksinya does the only thing she can, she can't let the idea of her hair go. She can only remenisc about it. She speaks about her mother. And Aksinya reveals another scab to us and to Natalya--her mother. Natalya knows all about mothers who desert you, but Aksinya's mother seemed to love her. Natalya's reaction is predictable. Aksinya doesn't know when to keep quiet either. Then the absolute truth. Natalya will not be able to handle it. Aksinya can only do one thing attack. She attacks her friend. If Aksinya doesn't attack, she will have to face the truth about herself. Natalya's reaction is the only way she can fight back. She threatens and she weeps. She fights back: “Why does love have to be like a contract with you?” We know the reason. We know how Aksinya thinks--Natalya doesn't. Natalya's whole life is centered around Aksinya. She has nothing else in life. She literally worships Aksinya, but Aksinya is denying her and all her trust. Aksinya absolutely rejects the entire salvation of Natalya. Yet, in spite of everything, Aksinya does love Natalya. This truth has never been a secret. This has always been part of Aksinya since she took Natalya into her household. She loves Natalya, and Natalya loves Aksinya with all her soul.
Then we get the full revelation--Aksinya knows exactly what Asmodeus has planned for her. The truth can only come out when all her defenses are down. She can only admit it to herself under these circumsatnces. Aksinya knows what will happen, but Natalya can only deny the facts. Natalya has no idea what she faces. She has no idea a demon is in control of Aksinya's life and being.
Aksinya is right, she is not allowed love and she is not allowed friends. She is only allowed suffering. At the end, I give you a kicker. Into Aksinya's lengthening hair, Natalya weeps: “I love you. I will not deny or betray you.” We know she will. We know eventually everyone will deny and betray Aksinya. Tomorrow, a hangover, of course.