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Cythera's Calling

As we come up on Cythera's release date next week, I thought I'd share a little piece with you about Cythera's calling. Like many of my characters, she's a servant of the gods, specifically of the Lord of the Dance, who "makes the oceans move and the rain fall." Others may describe her as a sacred prostitute, but this is what she says herself about her service, her calling. (Yes, this is perfectly worksafe.)



She had asked that question once, as a new-made Adept half in love with her first guest. "Why can't I see him again?"

The Eldest had shaken her head sadly. "That's not how it works, my dear. What you give is perfection. Perfect grace, perfect love, are what we aspire to -- the ideal fulfillment of needs that asks nothing in return, that eases heart and mind while requiring nothing. If you went to see a counselor, would you not expect he or she to listen in perfect patience and calm, asking nothing of you in return? The time you spend with a counselor is for you. You can talk about your thoughts and troubles, lay your heart on someone's lap and expect that they will give you perfect understanding, that they will hold your needs paramount. You don't expect give and take. You don't expect to listen to their shortcomings and their fears, to hear their failures and doubts as they hear yours. That's not what a counselor is for."

"True, but…" she began.

"And when you see a healer about the strained muscle in your shoulder or your shortness of breath, do you expect to hear about the healer's digestion? Or do you expect that the healer will spend the time with you concerned solely with your problems?" The Eldest smiled gently. "No matter how long you visit a counselor or a healer, no matter how much the client may feel it so, it's not a relationship. It goes one way. The client is the one whose needs are met, unless something has gone very, very wrong." She put her hand over Cythera's. "We serve the same need -- to touch, to bring joy, and sometimes to heal the soul by accepting thing that cannot be expressed in words. We bring grace. We foster creativity. We provide a fleeting moment of bliss, a place where one can be naked mind and body and all desires are fulfilled. As they never are in life, my dear. The Theon is a place beyond."

"And in that place we are perfect," Cythera said, understanding.

"Exactly. Every bowl is in its place. None is ever dirty or left out. Every sheet is clean, every room is tidy, and anything one might desire is a moment away. That's not real life. It's a beautiful illusion we create for a short time. The Adept is the guide, but if the bowls are clean and in their place it is because a Half-Blossom has washed them and put them away. Someone has swept the rugs and turned back the bed, washed the windows and maintained the temperature at the proper point. Someone has staked the flowers and cleaned the fountain and made certain that every light works. And you are beautiful and you have no needs of your own, no more than the counselor or the healer."

"But I do," Cythera said.

"Of course you do. And the day after the Full Night you return to your own apartment where you have left your clothes on the floor and there are no servants to bring you lunch and you must go get it yourself. You have friends and family and people you dislike and you're cranky and your hair isn't pinned up right and your bed isn't made. Off stage, you are just a person." The Eldest squeezed her hand. "The guest falls in love with perfection, but that's not who you really are. You are untidy and hungry and you like this entertainment and don't like that and walk around barefooted. The guest does not love the actor. They love the role. And you must never forget that is what it is -- a role. Just as a counselor's client falls in love with perfect patience and wisdom and has no idea that at home the counselor is at wit's end with their mother or their child, so the guest falls in love with perfect grace and desire. But you are imperfect, and you deserve to be."

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
wabbitseason
Oct. 24th, 2013 02:21 pm (UTC)
Still looking forward to this!

FYI, the paperback is up for pre-order now at Amazon and B&N.
jo_graham
Oct. 24th, 2013 04:20 pm (UTC)
Oh good! I'm glad the paperback preorder is up! We're getting close! :D
aishabintjamil
Oct. 24th, 2013 11:04 pm (UTC)
I love that last line - "You are imperfect, and you deserve to be". It's so important to remember that we are allowed to be imperfect. It doesn't mean failure in life. So many, many people are unhappy because they forget that.
jo_graham
Oct. 27th, 2013 11:54 am (UTC)
Oh yes! I'm glad you like that!

And it's the character that is perfect, not the actor. The actor gets to go home and just be a human being. Which doesn't reduce the value of the performance. So one of Cythera's questions is whether Athain cares for her, as she really is, or only for the role he first met.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )