Thursday, October 21, 2010
Lilitu Chapter 4
Here's some more Lilitu. Book should be out very shortly now...me and Brian Kerr and Christ Master over at Infinity have been putting the final touches on it, and the thing should actually exist between two covers by the World Fantasycon, Halloween weekend. Till then, there's this. Book will be available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, etc.
Sayida paid her regular visits after that, although sometimes she sneaked in through the door; Lilitu learned (and was comforted) a great deal, but while she was cooped up in her room, things were going very much to her disadvantage on the outside; despite Hamid's brief display of defiance, Shiraz moved steadily to increase her influence over him, and when at last Lilitu's imprisonment came to an end, she found that she was being evicted from her room.
"It's mine," she told Hamid's steward, who'd informed her. ''It was," he replied. "But my lady's sister Fatima is coming, and it's going to her---"
Rushing off to see Hamid, Lilitu ran into Shiraz.
"What's the matter?" The Monster asked, holding her arm out, long sleeve hanging, to bar her way.
"I have to see father," Lilitu said.
"My husband, you mean? About what?"
"Being thrown out of my room."
"He agreed to it," Shiraz said.
"I don't believe it," Lilitu said.
"No? Perhaps you had better see him, after all." Shiraz lowered her arm.
Lilitu started forward, but Shiraz called after her: "Please bear in mind, however---Fatima will be arriving any day now---"
Lilitu halted and turned,
"So,'' Shiraz said, ''once you've satisfied yourself about my husband's acquiescence, you should move out right away."
Lilitu balled her right fist, fighting an urge to strike her in the face.
"I'd appreciate it," Shiraz added, tilting her head to one side and smiling at her.
Shiraz laughed and went her way; Lilitu hastened to Hamid's chamber.
"Yes, she asked me, " he said. "I didn't think it was an unreasonable. Her sister has a lot of things, apparently. She needs the space. All you have is your books, and there's plenty of room for them in your new chamber. You'll be fine."
Lilitu cried: "How can you do this to me?"
"I don't want to hear any more about it," he said. "I already did you a very great favor, sparing Oded."
"And I thank you for it."
"You never said anything."
She considered explaining, but merely said: "All I want is to keep my room."
"The matter's closed."
"You could change your mind."
"I do that quite enough," he answered. "Now go. And remember---things could be very much worse for you."
Undoubtedly, he didn't mean those words to be prophetic, but they proved to be. Over the next two years, Shiraz burdened Lilitu with a steadily growing number of menial tasks---among other things, Lilitu found herself saddled with Oded's polishing duties, and was quite sure it was no coincidence. She protested to Hamid, but it did no good. Plainly Shiraz's intention was to transform her from a member of the family to a mere servant, and she grew very bold about it. Eventually Lilitu was reduced to scrubbing floors, and serving wine at dinner, and Hamid seemed perfectly content with the situation.
She considered fleeing, and several times managed to slip off to the caravans, hoping to find someone who would hire her in some capacity, or who simply wanted a woman to accompany them---she had no qualms about offering herself, provided she got out of her present situation, and she imagined it might even prove pleasurable.
But every man who offered to take her along managed to give her very serious second thoughts, and before she could find one who didn't, she attracted the attention of the fellow who collected water-fees for Hamid, and even though she explained very clearly that she was no longer welcome in her own house, the man went to his master and told Hamid what she'd been up to.
"What am I going to do with you?" Hamid asked her.
"Why don't you just let me go?" she asked miserably.
"I've a responsibility."
"You fulfill it in the most peculiar ways."
"By punishing you when you act badly?"
"By giving Fatima my room. And letting Shiraz treat me like a servant."
"You're getting off easy," he said.
"No I'm not," she said. "And it gets worse all the time."
"A caravan's no place for you. This is your home---"
"My home's no place for me."
"Shiraz wants me to let you go," he said quietly.
Lilitu eyed him. "What are you trying to say?"
"I'm standing up to her. In my own way."
"Oh, that's splendid," Lilitu said.
"I'm doing you a favor," he insisted.
"He's doing you a favor," Sayida said, later that evening.
"That's what he thinks," Lilitu said.
"A girl just can't go off with some smelly old merchant. You'd be sold into slavery and wind up as a whore. Things might be pretty bad for you here, but at least you've got me. And I love you."
Lilitu didn't doubt it---Sayida took a considerable risk every time they met, and if Shiraz had known they were meeting, or worse yet, discovered what they were doing, the consequences would've been hideous, much much worse for Lilitu than Sayida, perhaps, but bad enough for Sayida all the same.
They were, at the moment, in a small room at the back of the winecellar---Lilitu had discovered the chamber during the course of her duties as a serving-girl, and it was an excellent nest; the servant in charge of the wine was generally insensible, and Lilitu had stolen his key; the door could be latched from the inside, so there was never any chance that someone could burst in on her and Sayida unawares. Once a cloth was stuffed under the door to keep any light from leaking out, they could even enjoy each other by the glow of a lamp; Sayida had just lit one. The red flicker fell upon the cushions and silks and rugs she and Lilitu had brought, gleamed off jewelery draped over the sides of small open caskets; there were also jars of cosmetics and oils, and several mirrors. This room had been Lilitu's oasis, an island of pleasure in a desert of drudgery and humiliation, but it was getting harder for her to distract herself.
"I have to get out," she said.
Settling on a cushion, Sayida took a ring from a box and slipped it onto the second toe of her left foot. "You should relax," she said. "And admire this lovely ring on my toe."
Lilitu sat down in front of her. "Your mother scares me more and more. You've seen the way she looks at me. If I don't leave, she's going to try and kill me, I know it."
"Are you keeping those poems hidden?" Sayida asked.
"Never occurred to me."
"You should see to it."
"Maybe I'd better at that," Lilitu said. "Ran across an old one the other day...must be the first I wrote about her."
"Did you ever read it to me?"
"I don't know," Lilitu said.
"Do you remember it?"
Lilitu said, "Let me see," thought a bit, then nodded and began:
"Stepmother's good to look at.
I remember these fish,
Washed up on a riverbank,
And even though they were dead,
They were still pretty,
With their scales sparkling like sapphires.
I even said to my mother,
How pretty, but she answered,
They're all swollen up, look---
And just then, as if to make her point,
A horseman galloped over them,
And they just popped.
It was really quite beautiful,
The way the scales glittered;
It wasn't until the smell came
That the scene lost its charm.''
"Oww," Sayida said, shaking her head. "I'd have remembered that. Did that really happen?"
"Oh yes," Lilitu said. "I have a very vivid memory of it."
"Well," Sayida said, "Now that we've settled that...''
With both hands, she drew her skirt up over her stomach. After the fashion of Kadjafi women, she was shaved bare, just as Lilitu was... in spite of the fact that things had gotten so awful, and that Lilitu wasn't looking at anything new (she'd become about as familiar with Sayida's body as she was with her own), the sight of that plump naked mound convinced her to put her worries aside for the time being. Sitting up on her heels, she leaned forward, and extended her hand, palm upwards, curling her middle finger, just touching Sayida's opening, which was already a bit beyond dewy--- as far as Lilitu could tell, Sayida was always aroused, which was one of the things that Lilitu found so intoxicating about her. Lilitu pressed her fingertip into Sayida's vagina, to the first knuckle, left it in for a moment or two, then drew it out and up, between Sayida's lips to her clitoris. She watched her fingertip on the swollen point, pinched the clit between her nails, then looked into Sayida's eyes. Sayida smiled, got up on her heels too, then slid her hand up under Lilitu's skirt, asking: "No makeup tonight?"
"Too late," Lilitu said.
"What about jewelry?"
Lilitu considered whether or not she'd like to put a string of beads into Sayida, or perhaps pull one up between her labia and buttocks and draw it gently back and forth.
"I think we're doing just fine," she said at last.
After a few hours she crept back to her room and washed herself with water from a basin, all the while dreading the thought of getting up in the morning. Between her duties, and her sessions with Sayida, she rarely got much sleep, and as usual, dawn was going to come much too early. Physically drained, not even bothering to put on her nightshift, she was out almost the instant she lay down on her mat.
Some time later ---it seemed to her as though only a few minutes had passed---her door let out a creak.
Didn't you lock it? she wondered. Eyelids half-open, heavy as lead, she thought she saw a shadowy figure through the fissure between door and doorframe, overturning a small sack. Things dropped softly to the floor, small ones, by the sound of it; then the door creaked shut again.
At least, that was what she thought she'd seen and heard. She considered sitting up, really opening her eyes and taking a look, but was so drowsy she was on the verge of forgetting why she would want to make such an extraordinary effort when she heard faint skittery sounds, as though little things were racing around on the floor.
Immediately she got all the way to her feet, squinting through the darkness, but she couldn't see anything scuttling about, and couldn't hear those sounds anymore either. She went to the door and looked out. It was almost completely black in the hall, and even if there was someone skulking out there, she wouldn't have seen them.
Probably dreaming anyway, she thought.
She locked her door, returned to her mat and went back to sleep.
Sometime after dawn---she'd slept right through the cockcrow and the bustle of the servants waking up and going about their business---she felt the sting.
"Yow!" she cried, leaping up naked, grabbing her hip. Putting her behind to the wall, she looked down at the mat. There was enough light through the lattice for her to see the scorpion; it was being grievously provoked by her right foot, waving its pincers at it, tail lifted. Even though it was only the little brown kind, Lilitu ran and put her behind to another wall, looking about for something to swat the little bastard with. At length she got one of her books, (on natural philosophy, as luck would have it) swept the scorpion from her mat and then smashed it with the volume.
"Yih," she said, looking at the creature all squashed against the back cover. Deciding to clean the book off later, she tossed it aside.
Then, suddenly, she remembered that shadowy figure dumping that sack out into her room, and the sound of its contents striking the floor...
She shook her blanket out. Sure enough, there was another scorpion in it, and it ran out into the center of the floor. Putting her sandals on, she went to stamp on it; much too brave for its own good, it stood its ground and threatened her, defiant until the final crunch.
She shook out her clothes that had been lying on the floor; nothing. But there was a third scorpion behind some books she had piled up against a wall, and when she pulled her mat out, a fourth and fifth were revealed between it and the wall.
Wasn't a dream, she told herself. Scorpions got into her room sometimes, but she'd never had five at once.
Good thing they were the little brown kind, she thought, thanking God that her enemy was so ignorant about such matters.
She dressed and sat down on her ricketty chair, facing her equally ricketty desk, rubbing the swollen spot where she'd been stung.
For the first time she noticed that the poem about the fish was gone.
Later that day, as she was going about her rounds, she encountered Sayida, who looked very flustered and said:
"Mother's onto us."
"What makes you think so?" Lilitu said.
"Someone saw me sneaking back to my room last night. Mother asked me about it. I made up a story, but I don't think she believed it."
"Did she mention me?"
"Someone tried to kill me last night," Lilitu said.
"Put scorpions in my room."
"Are you saying---?"
"Yes indeed. I don't know if she knows about us. But someone got into my room last night while I was gone---"
"So she knows neither of us were in our rooms."
"---- and took that fish poem, and a bunch of the others.''
"Mother wouldn't use scorpions," Sayida broke in.
"She's terrified of them."
"That's why she'd use them."
"What do you mean?"
"If she had someone else do the dirty work, she'd want scorpions precisely because she thinks they're so horrible. Luckily though, whoever did it didn't know enough to get the really bad kind.''
"I think we'd better not see each other for a while," Sayida said.
Lilitu debated whether or not she should try once more to slip off with a caravan, but she was told that the latest had already left, and that the next wasn't expected for several days. After completing her dinnertime duties, she went to her room, packed some things, and went to the stables to steal a horse, only to discover five stablehands inside, playing dice with two of Hamid's soldiers. Concluding that she wouldn't escape Sawaliyeh that night, she went back to her room again, but decided she really didn't want to sleep there---out and about and plainly healthy, she'd provided ample evidence that little brown scorpions didn't do the trick, so it was reasonable to expect that something worse would be forthcoming. She went round asking some of the other serving-girls if she might spend the night in their rooms, but none agreed--- it had been obvious for some time that they were all keeping their distance from her, out of fear of Shiraz. She thought of spending the night in her little love-nest down in the winecellar, but wonder of wonders, the sot in charge was wide awake, and, just like those damn stablehands, playing dice with a couple of soldiers. She considered sleeping outside, but there was a very good chance of meeting some very poisonous vermin that way; worse still, it seemed a storm was coming up from the east.
Returning to her room yet again, she locked the door, and jammed several of her thinner books, enfolded in one of her skirts, beneath the door; someone would be able to push it all back out, of course, but she was sure she'd hear that. Turning to the window (which was the real danger-spot now, in her estimation) she latched the lattice-screen to the window-frame, closed the interior shutters and latched them, then wrapped a long length of thread around the latchhook and the little post it was hooked over. She knew the barriers could simply be bashed in, but that would wake her too, and she doubted anyone would take that tack. Leaving her lamp burning on the floor, she pulled her mat into the corner and sat down, propped up between the walls, facing the window, arms folded on her chest, a small knife in one hand; alternating between thoughts of how she might do a better job with the window, and how she might go about stealing a horse, she fell into fitful sleep.
The wind was howling; there were great peals of thunder, and the rain gurgled in gutters, and rushed down roof-tiles, and rattled on the gravel; Lilitu never heard the knife striking the shutter-latch.
The man outside, one of Hamid's guards, had slipped the blade through one of the holes in the lattice, and having felt that the latch was stuck, but not very tightly, he was flipping the knife up against it, over and over again. But just as the latch swung free of the thread that bound it to the post, there was a particularly loud thundercrack---
And Lilitu woke, chin jerking up from her chest.
The lamp had burned very low, but she still caught a glimpse of a gleaming blade before it licked back out of sight between the shutters. Then the shutter on the right swung open, just a bit, and almost immediately what appeared to be a series of small dark objects fell through, plummeting floorward; it was an instant before she realized she was looking at a long snake with alternating dark and light bands, the latter ones virtually matching the whitewashed wall behind. Striking the floor, the serpent coiled up.
A moment later, another snake, this one longer and glistening black---there was no mistaking it was all one sinuous object--- dropped down on top of the first, the two of them hissing and crawling away from each other.
Lilitu crept out of the corner, over the mat, and reached for her lamp, turning the little wheel on its side and lengthening the wick. As the lamp burned brighter, she lifted it so she wouldn't have to look through its glare. The black snake was rearing back, puffing out its hood, doing a fairly good job of imitating a cobra, but Lilitu had caught at least a dozen of its kind with her bare hands---it was, aptly enough, known as a Falsehood.
The banded snake had gone---mostly---behind some of her books, but a bit of it remained in view. Ignoring the Falsehood, she went to look at the protruding tail. From a distance she hadn't been quite sure about the bands, but on closer inspection, it was plain that the snake was of a very mildly poisonous and even-tempered type known as a Kindly Viper; even if one could be persuaded to bite, the venom rarely induced anything more serious than diarrhea. Lilitu considered getting the reptile by the tail and tossing it back out the window, but it occurred to her that whoever thrust it in might be watching. She didn't however, expect any more serpents, and since the Falsehood posed no threat whatsoever, the Kindly Viper only a bit more, she decided, simply, to try and get back to sleep, and did so effortlessly.
In the morning, she got up, put the snakes out, washed, and dressed. Then she got some breakfast, and as she ate, her thoughts returned to horsetheft; a plan coalesced shortly. Since she and Sayida were virtually identical, and Sayida had two excellent horses, Lilitu thought it would be a simple matter for her to get into her cousin's room, dress up in her clothes, put a wrap over her head to cover the difference in hair-length, then go down to the stable and take the horses, after leaving an apologetic goodbye note. With two mounts, she guessed she'd have no trouble catching up to that caravan that had left the day before, and she guessed Shiraz would prevail upon Hamid to let her go.
Lilitu went about her chores; as luck would have it, they included scrubbing a stretch of mosaic on the second floor, not far from Sayida's room. She expected her cousin was sleeping late, as was her wont, and Lilitu intended to take her time with the floor, wait till Sayida came out, maybe exchange a few words with her (given the situation, Sayida would certainly not want to talk very long) then slip into her room.
But as most plans do, Lilitu's came quickly to grief. As she set to work on the tiles, the Lark passed by, said nothing, started down the steps, Lilitu watching her, thinking she was a right little bitch; hardly had the maid descended from view when there was a scream, and a lot of bumping, and Lilitu went to the stairhead to see what had happened. The Lark was curled up at the bottom, gripping one of her knees with both hands and moaning.
Lilitu stood wondering if she should go down and help (even if the Lark was a bitch), and had decided to when she heard a door creak open behind her, and footsteps. She started to turn, didn't quite manage to see who it was, then felt a powerful shove and toppled down the steps. Her feet came up as her head swung downwards; the first thing that struck was her forearm. Hard upon that came the impact that made her skull simply ring, and a series of other jolts to other parts of her followed in rapid horrible succession, thud-bang-thump-crack. Then the continuous dizzying blur that her eyes were showing her ended in a sudden blast of darkness.
Head splitting, she woke, raised herself on one elbow. Although no one was bothering with her, a crowd of servants had collected around the Lark, who was moaning louder than ever, enjoying the attention, perhaps...
"Lilitu!" came Sayida's voice.
Lilitu twisted, looking back at the stairs. Sayida was rushing down towards her.
"What happened?" she cried.
Lilitu answered: "Someone pushed me."
"Pushed you both?"
Lilitu shook her head; the ache worsened murderously, and she resolved not to repeat the mistake.
"Did you see who did it?" Sayida asked.
"They came up behind me...'' Lilitu broke off as Sayida backed away from her. Lilitu glanced back at the stairs again. The Monster was standing at the top of the stair with Fatima the Cow---both were smiling.
Hamid appeared beside Shiraz.
"What's all this?" he asked, then came down the stairs, belly jouncing, and knelt next to Lilitu. She tried to get up, but a sharp pain shot through her leg, and she sank back down, quivering.
"Your wife," she said.
"Yes?" Hamid asked.
"She pushed me."
"Nonsense," he answered.
Cupping a hand behind her ear, Shiraz asked: "Did she just say I pushed her?"
"I suppose she pushed the Lark too!" cried Fatima.
"Really, Lilitu," Hamid said. He rose and plucked at one of the servants. "Have any of you sent for the doctor?"
The menial nodded. "He's on the way."
"She pushed me," Lilitu said, growing dizzy. "Had someone put snakes in my room...''
"Be quiet, please," Hamid said.
Shiraz laughed. "What was that about snakes?"
"Don't listen to her," Hamid said. "She must've hit her head."
"Or maybe she thinks you'd believe such stupid lies."
Lilitu cried: "You know what my mother used to call you?"
Shiraz laughed again and came halfway down the stairs. "You know what I used to call your mother?" she demanded, in a voice so wickedly venemous that Lilitu was shocked into silence. "Oh, I had a lot of names for her---Thrice-Eaten Dog's Vomit, The Chancred Chancre, The Bag of Pus, The Dripping Whore, The Maggotty Bitch, The Gaping Hole, The Leper's Cunt---"
"Shiraz---" Hamid began.
"The Camel Fucker----"
"The Dog-Sperm Bather, She Who Uses Live Rats for Dildoes---"
Hamid's voice rose to a shout: "That's quite enough!"
Shiraz turned her glare on him. He subsided, but when she looked back at Lilitu again, she seemed to have lost the thread.
"Come, sister," called Fatima from the stairhead. "I think you've made your point."
With a snarl and a toss of her head, Shiraz turned and went back up.
Hamid stood silently for a time, then looked at Lilitu.
"She pushed me," Lilitu said.
The doctor examined the Lark first, declared there was nothing seriously wrong with her; complaining that she was, nonetheless, grievously hurt, she limped away. He determined that Lilitu, however, had broken a shin, and she was borne off on a makeshift litter to his quarters, where he set the bone and splinted her leg, then gave her something to numb the pain. It also put her straight to sleep.
Waking two days later, she was given a crutch, and told to return to her room.
The next month or so was actually fairly agreeable. She could not, of course, do any work, and she spent her days reading and writing; after those visitations from the snakes and the scorpions, she took every precaution she could, and didn't sleep soundly, but it seemed that Shiraz had given up on venemous proxies, at least for the time being---she had not, after all, gotten anywhere with them.
One afternoon, while Lilitu was re-reading her favorite classical book---it was about a princess who betrayed her father to help a heartless adventurer from a foreign land, and how he brought her home to his country and then married someone else, and how she got her revenge by chopping up the children she'd had with him and throwing the pieces out the back of her chariot to delay him when he came after her--- she had an unexpected visitor.
"How are you feeling?" Hamid asked.
"Fine," Lilitu answered. "The doctor says I'm coming along."
"Good, good," Hamid said, then lapsed into silence.
"Was there something you wanted to say to me?" she asked.
He took a deep breath. "I'm very sorry that things have turned out the way they have."
Lilitu had no doubt of that. She nodded.
He said: "I really wish...''
That you'd actually been my father? she thought, but said nothing.
"Oh, forget it," he said. "I'm no good at this sort of thing...''
What did mother see in you? Lilitu wondered.
"I received a letter today," he said. "From Nasruddin---"
"Akbar's father?" she asked.
"Akbar wants to marry you."
She hadn't given Akbar very much thought since he left; when she thought abut boys, which she frequently did when Sayida was doing her, Oded was what came to mind, but if marriage to Akbar would get her out of Sawaliyeh----
"What does Nasruddin think?" Lilitu asked.
"Obviously, he's all for it. He thinks you're my daughter. And I don't think he knows anything about you and Shiraz---"
"Or the fact that I've become a servant in my own house?"
"This isn't your house," Hamid said. "But the argument could be made that you haven't been treated well. I won't conceal the fact that I was rather attached to you, once.''
"Thank you," she said frostily.
"And I have taken responsibility for you. So---''
"You won't tell Nasruddin the truth about me?"
"He doesn't need to know. I would like you to be happy. Particularly if you can do it somewhere else. Maybe, once you're gone, I'll get a bit of peace with Shiraz."
Lilitu asked: "You know she tried to kill me, don't you?"
"I don't know who to believe," he said.
"She's your wife. Shouldn't you believe her?"
He answered: "Let it alone. And just try to keep your head down for a few more days. Nasruddin asked about a dowry."
"The groom's father is supposed to pay---"
"Nasruddin's a Hakkar. They do things differently...anyway, I've got to persuade Shiraz. And even though she'd be delighted to see you go, I don't know what she'll say about the money."
"Perhaps you should remind her that it's yours."
"Niceties like that don't interest her."
"Rather like niceties about not murdering people?"
"Just keep out of her way," Hamid said.
"Should be easy enough,'' Lilitu said. "Cripples don't get around.''
She heard no more for several days; then, late one night, while she was reading another of her favorite classical stories---it was about a princess who helped a foreign adventurer kill a monster in a maze, and how he tossed her aside after he escaped, whereupon she met the princess from the other story, and they went all over doing bad things----a knock came at the door.
By this time very able to get around fairly well even though she had a splint on her leg, she got up, drew her knife, went over to the door, and asked:
"Me," came the answer. "Sayida."
Lilitu unlocked the door and let her in, asking:
"Are you sure you want to be here?"
"I'm going out of my mind," Sayida said. "We haven't done it for so long, and you're leaving---"
"If my whatever can get the dowry past your mother,'' Lilitu said. "But that's a very big if---" She closed the door and was about to lock it when Sayida seized her by the arm and turned her around, her expression positively ravenous. Feeling every bit as deprived, Lilitu embraced her without thinking, and the two stood licking each other's earlobes and necks and tongues for some while, the unlocked lock very far from Lilitu's mind. Lilitu's clothes were soon off, and she hobbled over to the mat, Sayida following, stumbling out of the last of her garments then getting down on all fours, kissing Lilitu on the mouth as she reached and flipped the sandals from her own feet. Sayida's mouth went to Lilitu's nipples next, and she left them hard and glistening as she kissed her way down over Lilitu's white belly. She laid her cheek against Lilitu's mound, smiled, pressed her lips against it, then sat back, running her hand over Lilitu's thighs. Heels digging into the mat, Lilitu lifted her behind from the bed, working her hips, flaunting herself in Sayida's face. Sayida drew the back of her hand down over Lilitu's mound, then placed her palm over it, and pressed the plump flesh with the heel of her hand; cupping her own breasts, Lilitu looked past them, fixed by the look on Sayida's face. Then Sayida got down on her elbows, took Lilitu's raised buttocks in her hands, and settled her mouth between Lilitu's legs with manifest and wonderful gusto, rolling her eyes up at the taste. Lilitu closed her eyes and bit her lower lip, the thought of that unlocked lock even further from her mind, if that were possible.
They were still at it when Shiraz opened the door.
Lilitu was mostly on top by that point, a breast in Sayida's mouth as she rubbed herself on one of her hips---Sayida was so slender that her hipbones protruded a bit, and they were very nice to be on. Lilitu's behind was going like mad, her buttocks clenching and unclenching, Sayida's hand down past them and stroking her, helping her come; when Lilitu suddenly realized that someone had come in, and looked back to see Shiraz standing there, her very first thought was that her stepmother must be seeing quite an amazing show... only afterward did Lilitu realize she was in truly hellish trouble, but even so kept on rubbing, pleased in spite of everything that she was showing Shiraz her wriggling behind. Delivering herself of a great big groan, she actually managed to finish before Shiraz, who'd plainly been stunned, closed the door and ran over to the bed, snarling curses as she kicked Lilitu's sweaty flank. Lilitu rolled off Sayida; Shiraz began kicking her daughter, who got up off the mat, slipped past her mother, grabbed some of her clothes, and vanished out into the hall. Shiraz twisted to watch her go, dashed to the door, closed and locked it, then came back, kneeling at the edge of the mat, panting, eyes blazing. Lilitu sat up against the wall, pulling the blanket over her nudity.
"You perverted little cunt," Shiraz said. "I thought I'd find her with you."
"Did you enjoy my poems?" Lilitu asked.
Shiraz growled and made as if to slap her; Lilitu pulled the blanket up at the last moment, muffling the blow. Shiraz responded by yanking the cover away and flinging it across the room. She glared into Lilitu's eyes, but then, briefly, her glance played over Lilitu's nakedness, almost as though she was distracted. Lilitu wondered:
Like mother like daughter?
"I ought to strangle you right now," Shiraz said.
"Run out of snakes?" Lilitu asked, almost twitted her about her inability to distinguish between poisonous and non-poisonous kinds, then decided not to, in case Shiraz wanted to try them again---no point letting the Abomination know why she'd failed.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Shiraz said.
Lilitu just laughed through her nostrils, started to get up; but Shiraz, who was considerably larger and much stronger, seized her arm and pulled her back down.
"Might I at least put my clothes on?" Lilitu asked.
Shiraz just stared at her, but once again at Lilitu's body, not her face...just to get a better idea of what was going through her mind, Lilitu sat back against the wall again and spread her legs. Shiraz's gaze went directly between them.
"Look good?" Lilitu asked.
Shiraz said nothing.
"Would you like to give it a kiss?" Lilitu asked.
"You astonishing little whore," Shiraz said.
Lilitu laughed. "Well, if you're not interested---''
Shiraz's eyes slitted, and she raised her face at last.
Really does look frightening, Lilitu had to admit to herself.
In a very soft voice, Shiraz said: "Suppose I just rape you?"
"Would you know how?" Lilitu asked. "Do you have any idea of how one woman uses another? And what will you say when I tell your husband?"
Shiraz suddenly appeared to relax; as though she'd put her anger aside, all at one stroke, an odd businesslike quality entered her manner.
"You want your dowry, don't you?" she asked.
"Let me do as I please...''
"And I'll get it?" Lilitu asked.
"What if you go back on your word?"
"You'll just have to trust me," Shiraz said, her gaze wandering down between Lilitu's thighs again.
"Once again," Lilitu said, "Do you even know how to go about this?"
Shiraz ran her hand over one of Lilitu's feet, and up her leg.
"I have some idea," she said.
"All right," Lilitu answered.
Hardly were the words out of her mouth when Shiraz was on her belly and slobbering away...she was at it for a while but she didn't seem to get very much out of it.
"Do something," she said.
"I don't know. Maybe you'd better do it to me first."
"It doesn't work like that," Lilitu said.
"What doesn't work like what?"
"You're bigger than me."
Lilitu explained: "I'm the girl, and you're the boy...''
"Were both female...''
"But you're bigger."
"You're the boy,'' Lilitu went on. ''And the boy does things to the girl. Now if both girls are the same size, like me and Sayida, then either one can be the boy or the girl. But you have to do everything...''
“Because I'm bigger?''
''That's the way it works."
Shiraz raised herself from the mat, eyeing her suspiciously. "I want you to lick me."
"You have to get me excited first," Lilitu said. "Once the girl's excited, she can do other things. But until she's excited, the boy has to do everything."
"I've never heard of anything like this."
"That's because you've never done it with a woman. But when it's just two women together, this is how it works. It's...human nature."
"But you don't want to do this with me," Shiraz said. "You won't get excited."
"Sorry. I didn't invent all this."
"How am I supposed to satisfy myself?"
"I never promised you would."
Shiraz swore. "Lie down."
Lilitu lay down on the mat.
Shiraz wrestled out of her garments, and given the circumstances, Lilitu was pleased to see that the woman had a good body, matronly but shapely; if The Monster hadn't been such a well...monster, Lilitu would've been quite happy to sample those heavy-looking brown breasts and everything south of them.
"Spread your legs," Shiraz said.
Lilitu spread them. Shiraz knelt between them and paused, as if not quite sure how to proceed; then she lowered herself between them, rubbing, but she didn't seem to be able to find a spot to give her proper purchase. If Lilitu had liked her at all, she would've suggested her hip, or stomach, or thigh, or that they should get up between each other's legs, like two pair of shears, but since she hated Shiraz with a passion, she said nothing, letting the Monster tire herself with unprofitable exertions. Struggling to maintain a neutral expression, Lilitu stared up at Shiraz's face.
"I hate that look!" Shiraz said. "Stop that!"
"Is this better?" Lilitu asked blandly, closing her eyes and puffing up her cheeks.
Shiraz swore and rolled off her.
"I think you're not cut out for this," Lilitu said, getting up on her side and resting her head on her hand.
Shiraz's eyes narrowed once more, practically steaming; her lips writhed, and she looked as though she were about to spit hot metal.
"Are you going to keep your word?" Lilitu asked.
Shiraz laughed derisively through her nostrils, then put on her garments and rushed from the room.