For this week’s #writingwednesday and in honour of Pride Month, a snippet from fantasy drama wip: Juliet where the protagonist’s daughter, Sophia, and the antagonist’s daughter, Iona, bond on their sea voyage and discuss the ways their two cultures approach sexuality.
Aron took a coin from his pocket and flipped into the waves below. “For the sea gods. May they keep my kjaereste safe, back home.” He reached into his pocket and produced two more tiny copper discs, insisting the women take them. He placed a hand on his shoulder, inclined his head, and walked away.
Sophia held the coin tightly in her hand, thinking of her mother, of Sean, of her friends Evjor and Jeanne, of her cellmate, Valarie. She tossed the coin into the ocean, praying they stayed safe.
Iona rubbed at the copper. “I have no family I want to wish for. So instead I will pray the gods watch over those my mother has wronged.” Her coin too went into the waves. She stared after it for a while and then shivered.
“Let’s go back below,” Sophia said, putting one hand on Iona’s arm. As they walked she said, “What does it mean? Aron’s…sh— sha…”
“Kjaereste? It’s your beloved. Your darling. Your boyfriend or girlfriend.”
Sophia attempted the pronunciation a few times until Iona laughed and said she’d got it perfect. “It’s a nice word,” Sophia said, glowing with pride. It was nicer that Iona’s people were so open about relationships beyond a man and his obedient wife.
They went to Iona’s cabin and Iona sat on the bed, Sophia taking the chair.
“You speak the language fluently.”
Iona nodded. “My father thought it important for me to learn about my heritage. I can see how it’s difficult though, if you try to learn it as an adult.”
Sophia leaned back in the chair. “I’d like to try and learn a few words.”
“Here’s one you are probably already familiar with. Elskeravkvinner. A woman who loves women.” Iona gave a sly smile.
Sophia knew they’d become close, but they’d never discussed what she was now sure was a mutual attraction. “I’m not El— Es…I will learn to pronounce it correctly, I promise, but that’s not me. Not entirely.”
Iona, who’d become despondent at the declaration tipped her head. “What do you mean?”
“I am a woman who loves men and women. I’ve dated young men. I still find men attractive. I like to look at women but I’ve never found one I felt…desire for. Until now.” She lowered her gaze. “Anyway, I don’t know what I am, what the word is. Or the word for those like Sean, who desire no-one.”
Iona patted the bed. “Come and sit with me. I don’t know those words either. Maybe we need new words. Or maybe we don’t need to make distinctions.”
Sophia sat next to Iona and Iona leaned her head on Sophia’s shoulder. “There are distinctions. Men, women, princess, peasant. They matter.”
Iona put one hand on Sophia’s knee. “Not so much as you think.” She kissed Sophia’s cheek. Sophia turned her head. Iona gave her an encouraging look and Sophia leaned in. Their lips met.