A New Novel, Part 191 Do You Hate Me?
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.
Aksinya confessed to the priests and Matushka at the Ecclesia in Wien. She wakes the next morning and is greeted by Matushka Ekaterina...
Ekaterina smiled, “You may call me Ekaterina, Countess.”
Aksinya’s lips didn’t exactly smile, but they turned up a little, “I wish you would call me Aksinya.”
“You know that isn’t possible, Countess.”
“It would please me, Ekaterina. Because of what I really am.”
“We all have our own problems… and sins… even the nobility.”
“Perhaps you don’t understand…”
“I heard it all last night.”
“Oh…then you hate me.”
Ekaterina laughed, “Not anymore than anyone else. It depends on what you mean by hate… and love. You know your Greek?”
“I am called to love you with the love only God can have—that is agape love. I think I can love you like that. I don’t not love you like that. There is also phileo, the kind of love between people who trust each other.” She smiled to take away the sting in her words, “I don’t know you well enough to have phileo love toward you.”
Aksinya look up from the sides of her eyes, “How might you come to love me like that?”
“By sharing together in work. By companionship and pleasant conversation. By sharing thoughts and ideas.”
“I see… I told you I murdered my lady-in-waiting. I know she loved me. I’m not certain I loved her.” Aksinya shook her head, “What is wrong with my eyes? They have been damp since I woke.”
“Let me look at them.” Ekaterina inspected Aksinya’s eyes, “What do you feel, Aksinya?”
“I feel very sad, and I feel great pain.”
“Your eyes are filled with tears.”
“I don’t remembering ever crying before.”
“But you are crying now.”
Aksinya laid her head on the table top, “Natalya cried all the time. I didn’t understand it. Do you think she was always sad? I think she loved me. Do you think she was that sad because of me?”
“I don’t know. Did you make her sad?”
“No, I think I loved her, but I killed her.” Aksinya let out a sob, “Why did I make that sound? What’s wrong with me?” Her shoulders shuddered.
Ekaterina moved next to Aksinya. She put her arms around the girl.
Aksinya is a person who does not understand normal human relationships or interaction. She was raised in a noble family to be a countess. She had few friends. We will find that she was ostracised in her own household. Aksinya chose sorcery and put away all the things of the world because of that. Now, she is coming to understand what it means to be human.
Ekaterina asks Aksinya to call her by her name. This is familiar, but not unacceptable or wrong for the culture. Since Ekaterina is an older woman, she could demand Aksinya call her by her title, but she doesn't. Aksinya already gave up her title--she just wishes to be Aksinya now. That is not possible in this culture and especially for the Matushka. Aksinya begs Ekaterina in the only way she knows to beg--because of what she is.
Then, do you see? The purpose of a Matushka is to take care of the women in the Ecclesia. Ekaterina is well equipped to aid Aksinya. Listen to her words and response. Perhaps few will ever have the opportunity to look after a person as broken as Aksinya, but Ekaterina knows what to do and how to respond. She reminds Aksinya that she knows all Aksinya's confession--everything Aksinya told the priests.
Aksinya's response: “…then you hate me.” Aksinya spent a while being rejected physically by the church--she expects to be rejected by those in the church. Ekaterina's answer is classic. It depends on what you mean by love and hate. Love comes in many flavors--this is a new lesson for Aksinya. Agape vs. phileo the love of God compared to the love of man. Aksinya wishes to be loved, but we knew that. She has been seeking love since the beginning of this novel. She sought it from her family who unfortunately died and could not know the benefit she tried to purchase for them nor the cost of that benefit. She sought comfort within herself. She sought love through luxuria, sorcery, and lust. It all comes down to the same thing. Aksinya wishes to be appreciated for who and what she is; therefore, she is very interested in how she might win love like that.
Those thoughts turn Aksinya's mind to Natalya. She believes she murdered her lady-in-waiting. Aksinya doesn't know what love is; she only knows that Natalya told her she loved her more than once. Aksinya wants to know what is wrong with her eyes. Aksinya has been crying. We realize, with Ekaterina's words, Aksinya has been crying since she woke. Her eyes are filled with tears. Natalya cried all the time, was she always sad? Was she sad because of me? Aksinya is really thinking for the first time about someone else and about her own effect on another person.
This is the first time Aksinya showed this kind of emotion. She couldn't cry for her family. She couldn't mourn them. She couldn't cry for Ernst or for Natalya--not before. Aksinya is so unaccustomed to emotions, she doesn't realize what is happening to her. Notice, there is very little description in this scene. You are experiencing almost 100% of the scene through conversation. This piece ends with Ekaterina consoling the sad Aksinya. Tomorrow, more of this interaction.