Arianna and I together burst out with laughter, and what a terribly refreshing thing that was to feel! We’d had far too few matters that warranted laughing over of late, and so perhaps this giddy cheer was made more delightful than it should have been, but it was so very wonderful that I rather didn’t mind looking the loon for it!
Her warmth bubbled over into my chest, and I overflowed with a mirth that was not entirely my own anymore. I was wreathed in cool river water, and it was rather exacerbating my predicament, for it tickled me so while I was already in such an uproarious state!
She was the first of us to settle down from our mutual amusement, and this was instrumental in bringing my own feelings back to Earth. That isn’t to say they fell all at once simply because my beloved wasn’t joining me in merriment any further, for they continued on for a while in small spates of uncontrollable giggling, and I just loved to be able to laugh so freely!
My dearly departed formed up that black mist over my head, and it was shortly clean of the muck I’d put my face into, which was immensely preferable to having mud smeared across my features. I felt truly cleaned, both inside and out as I laughed, and it was so fresh a feeling that washed over me that I simply had to smile!
I felt that years of horror and pain fell away with my every chortle, and it was a very healing thing to experience. Tears had fallen with them as well, but these were of happiness, and so although I sniffed with blurry vision between my giggles: I was feeling altogether rejuvenated by this outpouring joyful sentiment!
Katherine had largely ‘frozen’ in her cleaning of my person, as anyone sane and reasonable would have likely been perplexed by my sudden, prolonged, and unsolicited outburst of emotion! I could feel her rippling with her bemusement across my skin, as surely she hadn’t said or done anything so humorous as to cause me to make such an uproar, and so she’d asked me with such uncertainty that I shortly felt I’d been dreadfully impolite,
“Forgive me beautiful, but did I say something I shouldn’t have?”
What an unbelievably courteous spirit this Katherine was! Indeed, if she should have been a courtier in a rich estate instead of a spirit in a stream, then to hear her speak I could not have heard the difference!
If it weren’t for her fastidiousness in our interactions, then perhaps I might have questioned opening up my mouth to answer her while I was otherwise ‘entangled’ with a rusalka in her river, but as she came across so genuinely in her efforts to clean me: I didn’t feel even the slightest bit threatened by the prospect of her behaving in such a fearsome manner!
I simply couldn’t allow for such a rudeful and offensive thought that she must’ve somehow misstepped to survive within her mind! I could not be at all ungracious towards her in my heart, so I hurriedly assuaged her worries,
“No, Katherine: you’ve been nothing but kind and lovely to me. Please, don’t mind my laughter; I really am just feeling terribly relieved.”
The rusalka hummed with acknowledgement, and returned to washing my body of the filth that had once been upon it. However, since it had already become rather clean: to still declare what she was currently doing to be ‘cleaning’ was as if referring to a brothelhouse as a massage parlour! Technically correct, if entirely missing the point, and it was such stances which so like to shatter marital agreements by reality, if not strictly by legality.
Unfortunately, and although I was loathe to dismiss the diverting sensations which so pleasantly affected me, I could tell that if I didn’t stop it here: my Arianna was going to be quite justly cross with me — which is to say nothing of how resentful I would’ve been with myself for having enabled such behavior to continue ‘unwittingly’ — and so I said to Katherine,
“Thank you dear, but you won’t mind if I take it from here?”
I could’ve sworn that I’d heard the water make a noise rather like the clicking of a tongue in response to my unsubtle suggestion, but whether it was an expression of missed opportunities, or Katherine was merely feeling put out by my insinuations… who could say?
There was always the possibility that she’d been more like Olga with distaste for the prospects, but I felt that she wouldn’t have done such things if she was of such stock. Still, I didn’t have to wait long for her to be indicative of whichever it was, for she retreated from my body with an appreciable haste, and before long she’d formed herself back up across from me into that wonderfully perilous shape again!
She carried a sore smile of readily apparent disappointment upon her features, and so she was clearly of the first variety when she asked me,
“Who’s Rianna, then?”
My heart bled for Katherine at this question, for it was clear enough to me that she couldn’t have had very many suitors out here in the frontier, not while her river was as nameless as the glaciers it was spawned from. I immediately felt the necessity of comforting her, in whatever manner she might so understandably be wanting for, and if I were free to have realized what my instincts so cried out for me to do: I would have held Katherine, and laid with her, and still more if she’d asked it of me!
Mercy, but I was always so weak to loneliness, for I so well knew of its burden in my youth. I’d had to live the life of the shunned within a Foundation full of other children that reviled me, and they’d feared me like the unsullied feared of lepers! I was so often alone in those days, and not even Arianna’s warm and friendly interactions with me convinced many of them that my atrocious state wasn’t equally as contagious!
Before I might've parted the crowd of children around me wherever I went, so simply being very much avoided was an extremely positive change. I’d only slowly become a ‘part of the crowd’ once Carmen had come by to see me a few times, and although it did change for the better then: it could hardly have been called ‘good’, for I never once knew the touch of my peers in the Foundation.
Not even the Mother or Father ever laid a finger upon my person, for they didn’t dare to. I do not know how they managed to feed me before I could attempt to feed myself, but I do know that the touch of another was such a rarity for me in the Holy City that only the most desperate for doctoring would ever allow it… and many of those I’d saved from certain death even reviled me for having saved them with Cursed hands!
When my benefactor first propositioned me upon her return to my life, I most certainly didn’t feel that I could say no to her: all of the pleasant and good aspects of my life had come from her, after all… so what if she’d wanted something back for such generosity? I was used to being used, and that she’d wanted to use me too only surprised me that such a beautiful and wealthy girl might want to have anything to do with me after having left me alone and abandoned for so long!
She’d so soon asked it upon seeing me again that I’d rather expected it was the very reason she’d come back to me after so long a time away, and this made me incredibly paranoid of her intentions! I knew that she was too good to be true! Her kindness itself was a farce, and all along she was lying! She was behind the Mother and Father’s renewed interests in me! Was it all to drive me into her arms with despair, only to fall into her trap?! Did she believe that I wouldn’t see?!
These thoughts had seized me, and even though she’d never done anything intentionally to hurt me before: I’d momentarily suspected that I would shortly be turned floater, and so I’d recoiled instinctively from her when she’d first admitted her attraction to me!
My instantaneous response had hurt her enough then that she didn’t believe in my following insistence that the interest was mutual — every time she’d looked at me for days after I could see her eyes battling between her guilt and her desire to accept what I said as truth — but it was true that I’d long desired her touch, and I’d had such an infatuation that I’d exploited every time she’d given me her hand! I may not have known much about the deeper matters of touch, but I knew that I adored hers even when it hurt me!
Her touch was the only one I’d truly known in my entire childhood, and I’d sought after Arianna as if she were a terribly addictive substance, for I was always so wonderfully sensitive to her barest contact, and I would ‘accidentally’ bump into her and stumble into her for the mere brush of her skin against mine! So afflicted was I that she’d rather believed me to be very clumsy by the time she’d chanced to advance upon me!
Arianna’s mere hands upon mine had long brought me an ecstatic thrill, and I was so insistent that they be held! Even though touching was always so strange and alien to me back then, and it could be so severe that I sometimes had to withhold screams from its sheer intensity: I could not help but to seek out opportunities to experience that sensation again!
Eventually, her perseverance in the face of what she might have done to me lost out to her desire to believe in me, and in my acceptance of her own selfish wants — to say nothing of lust’s surely tempting effect upon her endurance — and so we’d fallen into that first magnificently excruciating exchange.
That first kiss had been unbelievably intriguing, and it was so terribly inviting for a second one that I could not have aspired to resisting the third. Even as agony went down my spine in deep spikes: I could not bear to stop, for I had been wholly overcome with that intense passion, and my ardor for her would not be restrained!
So it should have been, for it went without any restriction until she’d found with her hands the wounds I’d unknowingly inflicted on myself, and that felicitous torture was broken with her horrified shock. She’d wept for me then, and when I’d tried to comfort her: she pushed me away, only to then pursue me with her embrace! She could not believe the state my body had fallen into in just those few short years where she couldn’t see me, and I saw rage blossom inside her such that her very eyes blazed with a hateful fire!
She’d been so slow and gentle with me after that, and it was rather frustrating for me, because here we’d begun our relationship, only for her to now be infantilizing me? I wanted more, and despite my firm insistences: it took years before she was able to stomach doing anything near so as intense as what I needed from her, as on the attempt she would simply break down, and be entirely unable to continue with any further cruel-seeming treatment of me!
So I well knew what it was to go without the precious touch of a lover. I knew how terribly it hurt a person to be rejected both in part and in full, and I certainly knew the need of appreciation, but all of that together at once didn’t mean I could help Katherine any more than the next person.
“Rianna is my lover, Katherine.” I apologized to her, for I really did regret being unable to show her the affection she so wanted from me, “I’m sorry.”
The ghostly woman shook her head as a bit of amusement took her. She then waved off my apology with a careless flick of her wrist, which splashed a small amount of water at me, and a playful smile came over her features.
My Arianna absolutely groused when the water hit me, for she muttered something I couldn’t quite hear while I was lost in the enchanting beauty before me. Goodness but she was something to look at when she smiled, so I rather had to wonder if the reason that rusalka are so often depicted as drowning men to the bottom of lakes and rivers is that they instead simply eloped with them!
I couldn’t help the silly grin that came to my face as I took in the glistening woman before me, and my breath rather caught as her red hair shimmered in the sunlight, for she so looked like the ocean reflecting a sunset in that moment. It took a momentous effort to simply hold myself from reaching out and touching her, but I was just able to withstand her almost magnetic pull upon me.
May it never be said that I was weak of will, for it was no small challenge to take my eyes off of Katherine, but I did ultimately manage it. As I broke my gaze with that wondrous beauty, my Arianna’s voice came to me with complaint,
“...mmune to magic! It’s not like she’s pulling at you magically, or else I’d feel it! Mira, listen to me! She’s not even worth looking at anyways, I mean, she just looks like some really agitated water! Besides, I’ll bet I’-”
“Rianna,” I interrupted her, because I wasn’t going to let that slide, “She really is that beautiful, I promise.”
Katherine chuckled across from me, and this drew my eyes back to her once again, but the allure of her ‘body’ was rather easier to resist when I’d been prepared to do so — which isn’t to say it was ‘easy’ at all, for knowing a thing will be beautiful before I look at it hardly stops my appreciation for it! She raised an arm as she explained herself to me,
“It’s just my luck that the first girl that’s wanted me since I died is already married to some other woman.”
'Since she died', she’d said, so I supposed that the tales that rusalka were drowned women had some merits to them after all, though I did immediately find it strange that I had to correct her on one matter,
“We’re not married, Katherine. Women can’t be married to each other in the first place.”
- Typing Back At Carpal Tunnel
Loving a medium unfortunately doesn’t make a person necessarily talented within it, and I have no expectations for being the next best most famous new author going boldly into the future.
That said, I'm still gonna try my best! ^__^
My updates won’t have a set schedule until September 2020 in all likelihood. Thanks for reading! ^__^