In the garden (Chapter 12)
The hall is eerily dark and quiet as the staff seems to have disappeared with the commotion and that’s fine by me. I need time to think- time to process what is happening
I slump against the wall trying to make out the raised voices emitting from the dining room, but they are too soft to make out. This is just wonderful. Not only did I not get to choose my partner, he didn’t choose me, he doesn’t want me. And it’s not like I want him. I imagine our lives in 5 years, 2 kids in tow, not speaking to each other. Maybe he’ll send me back to be sold again to the highest bidder, never to see my children again.
Then again maybe he will send me back now.
As I consider that, I slump further until I am sitting on the floor leaning against the wall. I am crumpling my dress but the last thing I am worried about is their anger at that. Maybe sending me back wouldn’t be the worst thing. Maybe I could find a nice guy and settle down and do whatever it is I am supposed to do for the rest of my life on the godforsaken alien planet. I lean forward to rest my head in my hands. This is all so messed up.
Suddenly I notice the slowly approaching footsteps and glance up in time to see a figure emerge from the shadows of the hallway.
“Did they feed you before they started going at it?”
I look up at the man addressing me. He is tall and I feel small from my spot on the floor. As he moves forward the flight from one of the torches shines down on him. He has dark brown hair and dark eyes that reflect in the light. He peers down at me as I realize I haven’t answered yet.
“No, there wasn’t much time…”
“Alright then” He interrupts and holds out his hand to me “let’s get you something then”
I mumble thank you as I grab his large warm hand and he tugs me up until I am standing before him. He’s even taller than I first thought. Unlike the servants who are dressed in matching light grey suits or the Hertilz family which is adored in finery, the man wears a tight fitting long t-shirt and figure hugging slacks, both in black in sharp contrast to his pale complexion. Maybe the men of Pinn are more like the models in the introductory video then I thought.
He frowns at me and I’m beginning to get annoyed with all of frowning in my direction.
“Come on” he grumbles as he begins down the hallway without glancing back to see if I am following. I trod after him like a lost child.
He leads me down the hallway to open a door leading to an interior courtyard which features a lush garden. The courtyard is lined on all four sides by large stone columns which hold up the roof to create a two floor porch with a number of wood doors and large glass windows connecting the interior of the house to the courtyard. A spiral staircase leads from the upper balcony in the back corner of the courtyard. Tastefully carved chairs and tables are scattered around the balcony. Small torches line the walls casting shadows into the peaceful garden.
“Wait here” he mutters as I stare into the dark garden.
I go to do just that and stand in place at the edge of porch. As I look out to admire the beauty of the garden in the night, I see white smoothness peeking out between the leaves of the plants from the center of the garden. Intrigued I walk out into the darkness of the garden.
In the soft lighting the garden looks mysterious and wild. Leaves dangle over the small path I walk on and the scents of sweet flowers take their turn perfuming the air around me as I pass by. The air is heavy and damp with the night. It is not long before I reach the center of the garden and discover what is.
In the center of the garden on a raised platform is a statue of a woman. She is naked, sitting cross-legged, her arms behind her as she leans back on them. Carved into the white marble is a cloth covering her head and hiding her face so you can only see the outline of her nose and hints of her other features. Between and around her crossed-legs are brightly decorated bowls, some with the crusty evidence of having contained something at some earlier point. My eyes again move up the figure of the woman and I nearly blush. While I have seen many statues of naked women- I took an art history class in university for goodness’ sake- I have never seen something so explicit. You can see the dimples in her hardening nipples and don’t get me started on the details of her neither region. I feel my blush deepening.
“The goddess”” I heard a booming voice behind me.
I jump so high I think I might just have just become familiar with the atmosphere of PInn. Shit. I am alone with a Pinn. Alone in a garden with nobody else around. It could happen again. I haven’t been alone with any Pinns other than Mr. Hertilz since it happened. I tried to push it out of my mind, but it didn’t help the shaking.
I nod, “yes they mentioned your religion during my integration classes. They didn’t show us any pictures though. Is the cloth over her face because she is supposed to represent all women?” Ugh, I sound like a school girl trying to score points with a teacher.
He just grunts, raises an eyebrow at me and then mumbles “maybe” before turning and walking towards the edge of the garden. With his back turned I feel a little more at ease. It doesn’t seem interested in it, if anything he seems annoyed at my presence.
I follow him back to the porch where I see a selection of food spread out on small table and two chairs on either side facing the garden. He waves me over towards one of the chairs which I plop down on. He grabs a glass of amber liquid and begins sipping while gazing out at the garden. He says nothing to me and that’s okay. I examine him through my eyelashes as I reach out for some bread on the table. He seems tense. He dislikes me and I’m not sure what I did to him. I calm down further. It doesn’t matter if he hates me as long as he doesn’t try to touch me.
And this is how we sat- him, ignoring me and sipping his drink; me, nibbling on bits from the platter on the table, watching him silently- until Giddean came to take me away.