Quasi-Indefatigable Xenolith



A Meal Among Matrons

The act of making a lot of generalizations in print is socially unacceptable in most cases, but it is such an enjoyable thing to do that I can hardly resist the urge.

When there is something of a break-up, there are a whole range of emotions to go through. I have heard tell that the ending of a relationship has many things in common with death, strangely enough. It is almost as if the relationship itself has a life of its own and the kind of loss one feels at the ending of a relationship is comparable to the death of a friend or a loved one, though no one dies at a break-up. It just confirms my thought that some people (women), instead of loving the person they are married to, may simply be in love with the idea of being married and it doesn't immediately matter to them what partner happens by and consents to the union. It is interesting to watch the wedding of someone who loves marriage, as the poor groom is simply another floral arrangement, albeit a necessary one, to make the bride's wedding day look perfect. Sadly, these can be pretty painful relationships for people who come into them not understanding their real role as a fashion accessory.

Fortunately, this is not the case with the relationship between Mullicynda and Daavor, one built on mutual reciprocity in service of the other's needs. It is not so much "love at first sight", but a growing trust that builds toward companionship and then love. As in our couple's case, it doesn't really take very long to forge a bond when the conditions are right and both people are suited toward commitment. Unfortunately, the short time doesn't really ease the pain when the seemingly inevitable break-up happens and all those wonderful by-products of loving companionship are gone. While the sort of people who love being married or, in this case, having a cohort in intrigues, can simply pick up another partner and hardly lose a beat, Daavor brought unexpected joy to Mulls' now rather lowly existence and Mulls did her best to reciprocate. Now that this wonderful arrangement is soon to be gone, there will be a much more specific hole in the heart and not just anyone or anything can come along and fill it.

So both of our characters will go through the various stages of hurt, grief, betrayal, and a lengthy list of other "mourning" emotions at the coming loss of both each other and that nebulous third entity, their relationship together. As pain would have it, the break-up will not really be the fault of either of the three parties involved, as we are accustomed in generalizations toward placing blame. Daavor doesn't reveal Mulls' secrets or break her trust; Mulls doesn't turn on her not-quite-paramour and betray him to the Matrons; and their relationship still seems very much on track to continue to broaden and deepen with their increasing time and activity together. The cause of the break-up will be a whole other person that neither character has formally met, though someone you readers and I have certainly run into before.

We find ourselves once again down a dark alley in the warehouse district in the wrong part of Port Trechiva. The room is large, there is the twittering of small birds, and a greasy and darkened window is placed high in a wall and forgotten. An oil lamp is lit and sitting atop a wooden table and two figures in dresses are seated upon stools, for all appearances, eating dinner.

"So, what news?" This was managed, none too clearly, through the chewing of some poultry meat by the older woman in a deep red dress.

The other woman, dressed in a roughly patched yet still decent yellow dress, spit something unpleasant on the floor. "Nothing much to report."

The red dress looked down her nose at the other and her actions like some schoolmarm and paused for effect. "Didn't the school teach you any manners?"

"None that I bothered with," Canary snorted loudly. As if to make her point even more plain, she reached down awkwardly beneath the table, scrabbled around like an idiot with one hand while the other stuffed a biscuit into her mouth. Finally managing to slap a bright yellow pair of stilettos on the table next to her plate, she blurted out, "Those were killing me."

Red wiped the half-chewed bits of food that Canary had spewed with her pronouncement calmly off of her bodice with a cloth napkin and quietly ground her teeth. She was about to say something but stopped herself. She was about to say something else, but dutifully continued to grind away instead. Finally, she told herself that she had specifically elevated this particular woman to the rank of Matron for a purpose. Unfortunately, the purpose now completely eluded her.

"Oh," Canary spat out. "Arrangements are in place to move that skinny consort for you, Symantha, though I don't know why you bother..."

A great sigh escaped the ruby lips of the older woman. "You fail to realize his value."

The younger women shook her head at her superior. "His value? He is a scrawny, pathetic thing. I can't even remember his name." There was some labored chewing, perhaps on some stringy bit, and another spit to the floor.

"His name is Daavor," Symantha mentioned evenly, "and I am hoping that you will clean the floor around you when you are finished."

Canary barked with laughter, as if this was some joke, but the Red was not joining in. She might have spit out another bit at that point, thought again, and decided to swallow it down with a wince. "What is so important about this Daavor that Matrons like us should take any notice of him, much less care which household he works in?" The high Matron flinched darkly at the other's supposition that they were on some sort of common footing and were therefore worthy of being familiars. "I don't get why you keep having me shuffle him around."

"As I have said before, Daavor is a double-sire and he is an important part of my work."

There was a bout of chewing and Symantha hoped that it signaled the end of this conversation, but it did not. "I really don't get the whole 'double-sire' thing."

In response, the older woman simply took another dainty bite of food and chewed it quietly. The Canary rarely "got" anything.

"Okay, so he was born of a Lady", she spat out something on the floor again, "which happens to make me a bit sick..."

Red raised an eyebrow. "I can see that."

"...and he is the only boy after a long string of baby girls..."

"Yes." The signal to stop speaking and eating like some wild animal went unheeded.

"...and the consort he was conceived upon was just like him."

Red let out a sigh. "That's right."

Canary offered an incredulous look. "Why does this matter?"

Symantha bit her lip, not wanting to say more than she already had on other occasions on such matters. "If you spent your time on more useful pursuits than dirtying up this room, you might attempt a logic leap and see the possibilities."

After some ponderous chewing, which was likely the deepest thought Canary could manage, and another disgusting spit, the young women frowned. "I don't get it."

It was at that precise moment that the red-dressed Lady recalled exactly why she had chosen this pathetic excuse of a woman for this work. Like the fluttering birds in the darkness beyond the lamplight, Symantha would have no compunctions at all at poisoning this Canary when her usefulness ran out. As I labored to explain earlier, some relationships are a mere convenience and replacing the silly Matron would be nothing more than a increasingly minor inconvenience. "I had Daavor moved before he spent himself over some midwife. The whole point is to couple him with a Lady, a certain kind of Lady."

At this point, Symantha lost her senses, which seems out of character except that she was so passionate and invigorated by her own brilliance that she just couldn't resist. "When we put together the perfect sire and the perfect Lady, surely the blessed day will dawn," she was standing up now, head held high, "and the dream of our first Matriarch Sabra will finally come true!" The red woman had arms splayed and eyes sparkling, as if she were some rock star that had just finished her triumphal last set and awaited roaring applause.

Canary stared at her superior, slack-jawed, food dropping from her mouth into her lap. She didn't pause to compose herself. "Are you okay?"

Another great sigh burst forth and Symantha slumped back onto her stool. She picked up her fork and pushed a bite of food into her mouth, none too daintily. There was some very furious chewing. Canary stared at her for a moment longer and finally shrugged and returned to her own food.

They ate in silence, one generalizing that the other was crazy and the other generalizing that the one was an imbecile. To their credit, they were both correct, if I might generalize upon their generalizations.

After the blissful quiet of the rest of the meal, it was the superior that spoke next. "On the matter of this perfect Lady..."

"I know," the younger woman sighed. "Find her." She took up the plates and dropped them into a bag and began to leave the room for the alley beyond.

"One more thing," Red mentioned.

Canary halted at the door, not bothering to turn around. "What else do you want from me?"

"Don't forget your stupid shoes."

Next Chapter...

Copyright, Jason Nemrow. All rights reserved.