Enter the Goddess -- tentative release date April 7, 2015
After displaying a new routine to her mentor, Leah had helped Catrina drink a cup of hot chocolate in bed, covered her with her blankets, got under the covers with her, and snuggled her close for one of their late-night conversations.
Catrina sighed at one point. “I really appreciate the way you’ve been taking care of me, especially the warmth of your body at night and the sheer animal comfort of being held so dearly.
“But, aren’t you interested in the men at all? One of the benefits of the contractual system of marriage is to maximize the genetic potential of the colony, after all.”
Leah kissed Catrina’s papery cheek. “I’m certain I’ll do so if I ever find the right man.”
Catrina heaved a heavier sigh. “I’m sorry.” She asked Leah to help her turn more on her side. When she could finally look Leah in the eye as they rested, Catrina murmured, “I think I might have done you a disservice.
“I’ve captured your attention with the power of your sexuality, but you aren’t sharing it beyond your high dancing. I know part of the reason you don’t is because of your upbringing, that you haven’t shed the sexual mores of your family on Earth.
“But I don’t understand why you’ve rejected the sexual advances of every man. Is it that they don’t offer you thoughtful tokens besides money and tips?”
“No, Catrina, truly, it has nothing to do with that. I’ve rather been thinking of it as building my power inside of me, like I’ve been building my bank account and social duty credits. Releasing that power in the dance has been good; I like feeling like I understand men so much better at this point. But it’s enough of a release that I feel I don’t need to choose a man for any purpose yet.
“I love you, I love our lessons, I love living and working in this house for you, and I love spending the night with you. I can’t think of a man who could offer me those things, yet. So here I am, squeezing every last bit of information out of you with every hug,” she jested.
Catrina did offer her a weak laugh, but ended up gazing deeply into Leah’s eyes. “I think your problem is love. I feel like you finally love yourself now, which is good. But it’s only the first step. You have expanded your circle of love to me and my family, to Dolly and Joshua, and that is good.
“But the men who follow you, the men to whom you dedicate your art, they’re aware that you know they are beautiful, worthy people because you communicate that very well. Yet they can’t touch you, and the longer they realize they can’t do so, the current very limited dialogue between you will shrivel.
“You’ll become a distant goddess to them, attractive but unapproachable. And when you convince them you are unapproachable, the imagination they invest in you will wane. You’ve seen a drop-off in earnings these past two months, haven’t you?”
Leah nodded, mouth open in wonder as Catrina explained further. “If you don’t start showing your love to these men, I fear they’ll find another goddess.” She finally understood, deep down, several of the lessons Catrina had tried to get across to her. As if reading her mind, Catrina said, for the last time, “Release your inner goddess.”
“I will.” Leah kissed her forehead, and they got comfortable again, Leah with her arm beneath Catrina’s neck, which seemed to provide her with so much warmth. They spoke a little more before Catrina dozed off.
When Joshua entered the house shortly after dawn, the snick of the heavy metal door almost directly below was loud enough to wake Leah as usual. Catrina, cold and stiff in her arms, made her scramble out of the bed with a loud shriek. Everyone ran to the bedroom.
As Joshua held a sobbing Leah in his arms and Charles held Dolly in his own, Charles’ physician-engineer mother Charlene inspected her mother briefly. “I’m amazed she has lasted this long.”
After giving Catrina a kiss on the forehead, she turned back to Leah and Joshua. “These past two years have been a joy and a blessing for Mother. If you would like to stay in our household under the same conditions, that’s fine with me.” She left to call the morgue.
Joshua lifted Catrina’s hand for a kiss, murmuring a prayer and a few words of appreciation before escorting Leah out the door down to his bedroom. They cried together a while before he put her in his bed. He showered and got ready for work while Leah thought things through.
As he dressed, Leah asked, “She was very politely telling us that we’re no longer welcome, correct?
“That’s how I took it,” Joshua said.