Journal Entry 14: Resistance

COLD OPENING

JANUAE

How long am I to remain living with these halites with their incessant worship of salt? Talk of salt, making items from salt? With absolutely no way off this island? If I only knew what triggers my jaunts…

NARRATION

JANUAE

It has been several weeks that I’ve been living here amongst the women of Our Order of the Lady of the Salt Way. It is indeed a simple life, with the halites making various wares and items from the over abundance of salt that ends up in and on everything here. From the salts they make soaps and fireworks, dyes and medicines, figurines and candies, preservatives for food; essentially anything in the imagination that can be created from salt.

Halite Gabra has taken me under her wing, in direct contrast to what I would have expected from our first encounter. She has seen glimpses of my disillusionment and hopes to drive a wedge into the cracks of my doubts, extolling the virtues of the Salt Way. While I accept that salt is essential, I do not consider it a god.

The halites are currently fulfilling one of the other duties of the Order which is to tend to those in need. I am not their only ward; there is a group of varjellen and a human female whose boat ran aground and sunk not far from this island. They had been rescued by the Order a week before my arrival. The halites are providing us with food and healing to those who need it and Gabra is proselytizing the merits of the Salt Way to me once again.

JANUAE

Gabra, why is it you are trying to convince me to join an Order that is comprised solely of women?

GABRA

Membership in The Order is not exclusive to women, Januae. In fact, up until a few weeks ago we had two male halites. Unfortunately they’ve both since passed away. One was foolish enough to have left the island without the blessing of Saint Eseld. On his return he fell ill and his self-inflicted curse took him. The other… he was… mutilated.

JANUAE

Mutilated? By whom? Or what?

GABRA

We don’t know. His body was found torn apart. Not in the manner of what a wild beast would have done, no part of him had been devoured. There aren’t any such creatures on this island in any event. We couldn’t find any signs of what could have done that to him. People were on edge after it had happened, but there has been no sign of danger since. We do not travel the island alone, however.

JANUAE

I would think not.

GABRA

So you see, there is a place for you here. Gender is not a prerequisite.

JANUAE

Since gender is not a prerequisite perhaps you could convince some of the varjellen to embrace the Salt Way, as they have no gender.

GABRA

(laughs)

Have you ever tried to talk matters of spirituality to a varjellen?

JANUAE

I can’t say I have.

GABRA

It’s an exercise in futility. They just don’t think that way. Try telling a joke to one sometime.

JANUAE

Tough crowd?

GABRA

To say the least.

JANUAE

What of Triasha? Try bringing her into the fold?

GABRA

The woman with the varjellen?

JANUAE

I would hardly say she is with the varjellen. She tells me they offered her travel from Hayrest to Nebalich, but other than that she hardly knows them.

GABRA

She hardly knows us either. You are the only one she speaks to, ever since you arrived. And rather enthusiastically, at that. You know, if you choose to stay you can always take her as a partner if you desire. We encourage partnerships here. A significant number of our halites have entered into unions with each other, so it would be more than acceptable if you-

JANUAE

You need not entertain that notion. You do realize my stay is temporary at best in any event. Even if I considered-

GABRA

You are going to be here awhile. We’re in the middle of the harsh season. Travel is restricted. There’ll be no traders coming here for months, and you know we do not keep any means of leaving the isle. Since you will be here a long while anyway, why not make-

JANUAE

I’m referring to my jaunting. I don’t know when it will happen but I am confident it will.

GABRA

Perhaps Triasha will try and entice you to stay.

JANUAE

Triasha is lovely, but not enough to-

GABRA

She is headed this way.

They fall silent as TRIASHA approaches

TRIASHA

(sweetly)

Hello Januae.

(flatly)

Halite Gabra.

GABRA

Triasha. You’re looking well today. If you’ll excuse me, I have to continue seeing to my duties.

GABRA departs

JANUAE

How are you feeling today, Triasha?

TRIASHA

Better. Your presence always gives me a bit of a lift.

(pause)

Was Halite Gabra trying to convince you to become a member of the Order of the Salt Lady?

JANUAE

Our Order of the Lady of the Salt Way.

TRIASHA

Yes, of course. I can’t seem to get that straight. Our Order of the Salt Way.

JANUAE

Our Order of the- I suppose it doesn’t matter. But yes, she persists in trying to persuade me to embrace salt as a god.

TRIASHA

How are her efforts? Is she making any headway?

JANUAE

I don’t belong here. While this is a wonderful life and the halites are well meaning, it is not for me. My passion is the numenera. Other than a few machines used to craft items from salt, there is no numenera here to study. Besides, as I have told you, my status as a temporary resident here is beyond my control.

TRIASHA

The jaunting…

JANUAE

Yes, the jaunting.

TRIASHA

And you have no idea when you will… disappear?

JANUAE

No. I don’t know what triggers it and I don’t know how often it happens, or at what intervals.

TRIASHA

The anxiety brought on by your situation suits you.

JANUAE

Excuse me?

TRIASHA

I suspect you were always this anxious and restless before whatever it is that happened to you. You were probably all work and no play, weren’t you?

JANUAE

That is not true.

TRIASHA

I don’t count playing with the numenera.

JANUAE

You picked that up from Gabra. No, as a matter of fact I enjoy swimming. I would love to swim here but the salt is more than my skin and eyes can bear.

TRIASHA

Alone or with others?

JANUAE

Pardon?

TRIASHA

Did you swim by yourself or with swim partners?

JANUAE

(after a beat)

Alone…

TRIASHA

This condition where you constantly find yourself in a strange and temporary place is not the worst part of it for you, though you carry on as if it is. I bet you didn’t form any bonds or friendships when you lived in…

JANUAE

Qi.

TRIASHA

Right. That’s not good for you. You need closeness, you need… intimacy.

JANUAE

One can’t form connections with people when their stay is temporary at best. I’ve told you-

TRIASHA

Then that connection will have to be temporary. Enjoy it while it lasts. No one should be lonely, Januae. Let me keep you company so long as you’re here. Make the time here more than bearable, make it wonderful. I’ll be alright when you leave. I’ll be left with a delightful memory.

JANUAE

I’m sorry. I have no interest in becoming intimate, no offense. You are quite attractive- actually, very attractive…

(catches himself)

I’m sure there are a number of women here who-

TRIASHA

I’m not interest in women. I’m interested in you. Or are you not interest in women, Januae?

JANUAE

I have no preference. Gender is not a factor in who I find attractive.

TRIASHA

Well then I see no reason why we can’t indulge in some much needed distraction.

JANUAE

I am not so liberal in who I share a bed with, Triasha. I am a highly selective person when it comes to intimacy. I cannot simply-

TRIASHA

Oh, sure you can. Or do you need to be in some sort of commitment?

JANUAE

Perhaps. That may be a factor, but-

TRIASHA

And you don’t dare risk entering into a dalliance with me when you could leave at any moment?

(playfully mocking)

Jaunting away, leaving me all broken hearted? “Oh Januae has left me! What is a girl to do?”

(silence)

Don’t get too full of yourself. That’s not who I am. We are two people that find each other attractive. It’s no more complicated than that.

JANUAE

While I am flattered, it is just not something I would be willing to enter into with you or anyone else on this island. At least not at this juncture. And I doubt I will be here long enough for that to change.

NARRATION

JANUAE

I found I was mistaken on both counts. I remained on the island another month, and during that time Triasha continued to press her seduction of me. The attraction was unmistakable, palpable at times, and over the course of time I found it more difficult to physically resist what my mind was able to. This should not have been so complicated a matter as between two consenting individuals. Why I was resistant to something that was so natural with no expectations on either end, I can’t say. But resistance was futile. Natural human urges combined with her intoxicating persistence won out. I was to find I had reluctantly, or perhaps not so reluctantly given myself to Triasha with wanton abandon.

We indulged in a few escapades, then just as suddenly Triasha once again regarded me with the same detached casual friendliness she had when we’d first met. Her desire for me had dissipated, and oddly, mine had for her as well. Had she been emitting some sort of pheromone that had since been stemmed? It was as if we had never been involved intimately the way she regarded me. Not cold, more like that of an acquaintance.

I did not understand what had happened, what was happening. It was Gabra who had called my attention to what had changed.

GABRA

Januae, this would normally not be any of my business, but I am responsible for the welfare of the people who live here. So I must ask what you intend to do about your situation with Triasha?

JANUAE

Triasha? There is no situation with her. She regards me as no more than another resident here. Clearly I’ve fulfilled the purpose she intended for me.

GABRA

Clearly, though why she is set on having a child under these conditions is beyond me. Nevertheless, no matter the status of your relationship with her, you still have an obligation to the child.

A significant moment of silence

JANUAE

Child? You must be mistaken-

GABRA

How could anyone mistake- Januae, are you not aware that she is carrying your child?

JANUAE

That can’t be…

GABRA

Based on your past… associations, I assure you it can.

NARRATION

JANUAE

How had I not noticed it? Our interactions had become brief and infrequent as of late, but her current state must be evident now. Was she deliberately trying to hide it from me? In any event it was clear she felt no need to divulge this to me.

Apparently she had no intention of calling upon me to be a father to the child she carried. Perhaps she had taken into account my inevitable jaunting, choosing to refrain from introducing me to a child I wouldn’t be here to raise or care for.

Having offspring was never a consideration. I have never been comfortable around children. But this is an exceptional situation. I cannot simply ignore the fact that I have helped to create this life and stand by and do nothing in the meantime. I will go to Triasha and tell her I will assist her through her term. I will be present during the birth of the child and I will help care for it, raise it, and provide for it. Up until the jaunting takes me away… from my child.

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