I’ve been pretty busy lately. So, this is something a little different. I think this probably winds up getting cut out of the book, but I thought you might enjoy it as a side-story. Just a few small spoilers (nothing you wouldn’t be able to see coming, anyway.)
“In the beginning, before the oceans filled and before the mountains rose, the Lonely God created a woman.” The Lepterian exhaled, like a little boy who had just faked his way through a scripture lesson he was supposed to memorize. “And she was beautiful and good, and when he saw her, he wanted to create a whole universe for his masterpiece to play in.”
“But the universe would need dangerous and terrifying things to keep the balance.”
“Keep the balance?”
The question made him smile. “The old priest in my hometown said that keeping the balance meant avoiding being overrun by rabbits and skunks, but that’s not in the scripture. Keep the balance is what the scripture actually says.”
“So he created a male to protect her.”
“And the male?”
“The male was everything the woman was not. He was blue and hard and rough…” He lost track of his place when she sat down by his feet and ran a finger along his calf from his ankle to his knee. “Everything the woman was not…”
“You left out hairy.”
“And hairy.” He couldn’t remember if hairy was one of the differences the scripture mentioned, but he said it, anyway. “And the woman saw him, and she was terrified.”
The Basillea leaned her head back against his thigh, and looked up at him. “Not likely.”
“You’re ruining the story.” He heaved a sigh, and stretched to show off the elegant muscles under his skin. “And she was taken with his beauty. She grabbed him by the ears and ravished his body with a ferocity that startled even the creator. They lived happily ever after. The end.”
“Okay. Fine. She was terrified.” The Basillea pressed her cheek against the Lepterian’s knee. “What happened next?”
“For just a second, she stares at the man. Then, he takes a step closer, and she runs.” He paused for comments, but none came. “So man spends his first day trying to catch up to the woman he is supposed to protect. That night, he returns to the creator, and says to him, ‘The woman is too fast. If you want me to protect her, make her slower so I can keep up with her when she runs away from me.’ And the creator tells him, ‘But I didn’t make her for you. I created her to run with my wind through the fields. I cannot make her slower.’ So, he goes away and spends the whole night looking for the woman.”
But the woman knew he’d be looking for her, so she doubled back, and employed trickery to hide her tracks, and he never found her.
And the man went back to the creator a third time. He told the creator what had happened, and said, “The woman is too cunning. Fix her so she won’t trick me into looking for her in the wrong places.” By now, of course, the creator is getting tired of the complaints. He looks at the man and tells him, “I didn’t create the woman for you. She is what I want her to be. If she outsmarts you, that’s your own fault.”
And day after day, he tries, and fails, and every day, he goes back with some request. Fix this. Fix that. Make some change that would make the woman easier to protect, and every day, the creator refuses to change his favorite creation.
So, at last, the man goes to the creator, and says to him, “If I were smarter, the woman would not have to change. If I were the color she is, she would not see me coming. If I were faster, I would be able to keep up when she runs. She would not have to change. Change me, instead.”
And the creator refuses. “I created the woman for my own reasons, and I created you for my own reasons. If you despise each other, that’s not my problem.” Then, the creator threw the man back out into the still-empty world and slammed the door. “Go,” he said, “and don’t come back alone.”
The Basillea listened to the end. “You believe that?” she asked.
“So, how do they wind up together?”
“Oh.” He nodded. “More or less as you’d expect. The man sits down in the middle of a field, distraught that he is unable to do his job, and destined to be alone. He falls asleep thinking about how he has failed. And eventually, the woman’s cunning drives her to investigate. She knows she’s swift enough to escape, and plain enough to hide, so she sneaks out, and…”
“In any event, they live contentiously ever after.”