Back in the early 1990s I wrote a triptych of stories (I hoped) from a woman’s point of view. Cymodoce, written in the late 1980s and in limited 3rd, had a female main character and, when anonymously workshopped, people thought it the work of a female hand. It went on to receive a Nebula nomination in 1995 (Tomorrow Magazine).
With that behind me, I went for it. Rachel, Above the Clouds, While Flying came first (and was recently published in Across the Margin). “The Raping of Cyrynda Strong” came next and I’ve hesitated sending it out due to the title (I explain the title at the end of this post). Next week I’ll share the last in the triptych, “Striders”, which I think is a great story and am still reviewing before sending it out.
Let me know what you think, and thanks.
It was done and she felt herself relax.
“Care to go for a walk?” Michael asked.
She thought for a moment.
Pros slid into cons faster than she liked: she liked him, he was cute, he was a gentleman, he listened to her. It was their first date, there were some beach houses within screaming distance with lights on, the beach was deserted, he might turn into a monster — two arms, two legs, and a dick. She remembered a joke a friend told her, “…I’ve already got one asshole in my pants, I don’t need another.”
Another car entered the parking lot. A man and a woman got out, the man’s deep voice and the woman’s high laughter ran ahead of them as they made their way down to the sand. Not far onto the beach the man and woman kissed lightly, affectionately, then continued hand in hand.
Something in Cyrynda ached. “Sure. Maybe a short walk. I don’t want to go far.”
She and Michael walked from the parking lot down to the beach followed by a coterie of quietly clacking gulls. Behind them the late summer sun was setting. Red arms of dusk started in the west and reached along both north and south horizons. Above them the sky was dark. Waves licked up the beach and foamed briefly when they broke. Small pools collected in their footsteps as they walked along the sand. The ocean smelled of a rapidly cooling night, tidal pools, and sun-dried seaweed and skate-cases. When they stopped the gulls gathered ten feet from them, waiting for any scraps they might throw.
A slight breeze brought a hint of autumn and winter to come. The other couple ran past at a respectful distance, their laughter and whispers washing up and over Michael and Cyrynda like a gently tearing wake. Cyrynda took Michael’s hand and he kept his eyes on the sky.
“Do you know anything about the stars?” he asked her.
“I’m a Sagittarius, if that’s what you mean.”
He laughed. “Do you know which stars are in Sagittarius?”
“No. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen it before. Except in books, I mean.”
“May I?” He stood behind her and gently moved against her so that their bodies were touching, then rested his head on top of hers.
She felt her belly quiver at his touch. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Now, move your head with mine and look along my arms.” He framed part of the sky with his hands. “See that collection of stars between my hands?”
“It is?” She bobbed her head forward as if the extra inches would bring the stars closer.
“And that star at the tip of my finger?” He twitched his right index finger, “That’s called ‘Kaus Australis’.” He moved a finger on his other hand. “That one’s called ‘Nunki’.”
“What’s that kind of fog going through it?”
He laughed again. “That’s the Milky Way. The galaxy. Sagittarius – the constellation – is on the way to the center of the galaxy. The different stars aren’t, though. All those stars are different distances away. You’d eventually pass them all, but not all at once.”
“Sounds like you’ve gone out that way.”
“No,” he smiled. She felt herself getting used to him being there, behind her, wrapped in his arms. It was safe and protected. “Not out that way.”
“So what sign are you?”
“I don’t know. They don’t have zodiacal divination where I come from.”
“Zodiacal divination,” she repeated. “Sounds like some kind of disease. Where are you from that you never learned your Zodiac sign?”
“I’m from Siyo Sunka.”
He pulled away but she held his arms around her, letting him encircle her beneath her breasts.
“I never heard of Siyo…sunka? Where is it?”
“You really want to know?”
“Of course I do. I might have to go there on business someday.”
He laughed again. “Okay.” He turned them south and pointed to a bright star on the horizon. “See that?”
“I’m from a little planet orbiting a star about sixty years behind that one.”
She felt herself go cold and wondered how to gently pull away from him. Her friend’s asshole joke echoed in her mind. Her breath caught tight in her chest, her belly’s excited trills stopped and her gut twisted slightly.
He released her before she said or thought any other thing. “You asked,” he said.
He put his hand to his forehead and scrunched his face in concentration. “Uh? What? Jimmy? Janis? Is that you?” He stared into the sky, just overhead, then to the horizons. He spun on his heels then stared back overhead. “I’m coming,” he said and smiled at her.
She didn’t smile back.
He held his hands up, palms out. “Sorry. Acid flashback to the sixties. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
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