I was eleven when I entered its sculptured gardens and manicured lawns; beyond the cold iron filigree bars of the gate that separated the dirty city beyond. Little did I know that this seemingly heaven would become a hell. I greeted the Master of Emerald House on my knees and with my eyes on the floor as I had been taught so many years ago. Even the floors here were immaculate. Not a speck of dust or grime could be seen or felt beneath my forehead that was pressed against the hard and frigid marble. He bid me rise and thus I did so to look upon his cold and perfectly beautiful face. "Look around you, my child", he said. "Do you see anything here that is not the epitome of exquisite perfection?" He laughed as I struggled to know whether to answer or not. "There is only one correct answer, my dear. And, that is you. You are the only thing here that is not perfect." My eyes began that submissive downward glance before his words stopped me. "But, don't you worry. We will make you perfect in Emerald House. Perhaps even so perfect that the Emperor himself will weep." The irony of those words would haunt my dreams in later years to come but at that one moment, I could wish for nothing more. He turned on his heels to go leaving me with my thoughts and curiosities. I heard his voice echoing down the hallway, "And, Aspasia, the moment you show you are less than perfect, you will disappoint me and I shall be forced to send you away." It is no small thing for a child of that age to come to realize that love and hate could co-exist and embody a single soul. For it was that moment, that I both loved and hated the Master of Emerald House. And, just as sure was I that I would die before I disappointed him.
So how does one learn perfection? The answer lies in the most small and menial of ways. I was given a multitude of tasks to perform. With each, I was shown the way to complete it but once. After that, I was expected to duplicate the result and the format without deviation. The making of a bed with its bed clothing. The scrubbing of a floor until it gleamed. The recitation of an epic poem including inflection and emphasis of rhythm. The brushing and coif styling of a lady's hair. The body movements during a particular dance. A thousand tasks performed and then repeated when expected without a moment's notice. Perhaps the most strange of these tasks was when I was woken by an instructor in the morning and told that I was to be perfectly sad all day long throughout all of the tasks I was to complete that day. I was shown the nuances of sad behavior and given word phrases and images to think on to inspire sadness. And so through the day, no matter what occurred, I would show no emotion other than sadness. Days passed, more emotions I was given and tested on and more procedures each progressing in difficulty and complexity. But, I would not fail my Master. This year of torment passed slowly. But, at the end of it all I had become accustomed to the final test and wondered about it as the days dwindled till my birthday.
It came in the form of a package sent to my room. A note on the outside read: You will spend the day with me and you will make me believe that everything I do makes you happy.
And, I knew that nothing he did that day would make me happy. I would be hurt, degraded and humiliated. I also knew that I would not displease him and that I would make him believe that he was my world and his slightest whim would be the breath that I breathed. So, I put on the ridiculous dress he sent within the package and became his perfection. No, not just his perfection. That day, I became everyone and anyone's perfection.
As the dawn broke, something has changed. Wonderful and new. The resonance in my music reaches. I hear it spreading out. Straining to reach other's ears. And it does, farther and farther. Perhaps I shall fit into this community. Not as The Rose but as Aspasia, bard. I will find purpose yet. Even if I must change all of the minds that surround me.
And so these pages grow thick with dust. As does my own complacency. Will alone does not drive me forward. I linger in this quiet and still place, watching. Waiting. But, for what? I suppose my own inaction is in a way action. Regardless, it is good to be, dare I say, home. So many curious people to explore. Perhaps, I too, may yet be explored. I certainly hope so.
I have been working hard on the play I am writing for The Puddleby Players. I hadn't realized how the time had passed and how I kept myself shut away for so long. I suppose this is the way of things with me. I throw myself into things wholeheartedly, sometimes foolishly. Perhaps it is my training. I return to find something changed in Largo. A shadow creeps through his mind. A shadow of the past that leaves a darkness draped over the both of us, connecting us to those long ago days of Court. Dark days and dark nights, no matter how brightly the jewels sparkled. That past weighs on us both heavily. We've decided to make an escape to Peaceton again to find happiness there before the past comes to find us again. Royal Courtesan and Palace Slave. The world is a very small and curious place indeed. I lay awake now, pleasures spent but unable to sleep. My mind drifts in and out thinking of the Imperial Court and the Facet Court. What if I returned? What could I possibly have to offer to allow Him to let me stay? These thoughts are futile.
The days are unraveling. Forward and back. Back and forward. All my life is on me now. I see the pages turning. The future is so far away. And what a thing, to know what could have been. Fortune curse me for letting me see. But I have trouble now, even remembering. That would be my undoing. Lay your head on me one last time. Tell me you belong to me. But then again, no. I'd miss that stupid ache. What's happened has happened. What's coming is already on its way. There's little left to say. Why waste unconditional love. On somebody, who doesn't believe in it at all. All the signs were there. From the first to all the last times. But, no, it wasn't love. I am not in love. In fact, I can't stop falling out. I don't know what to believe in anymore. I'm a stranger to myself. And you don't know who I am. My heart is cold and decaying in front of me. What's gone is gone. And never coming back. It was a fantasy reaching for reality. Without a bridge in between. There is no end to satisfy this story. Only the harsh deniability of the truth. And there's nothing left to say. All I want is the will to forget. And the strength to walk away.
Happiness is fleeting. But, I don't care. I want to revel in it. Let it wash over me. Penetrate me to my core.
My bard audition is but a few days away. I feel ready. I hope I am not being overconfident. The play goes well. How easy acting comes to me. Though I should not be surprised. I find myself daydreaming. Thoughts and images propelling me to welcome each day. The secrets that I keep, fall down and lay in shadow. They will have their time again, just not now.
I feel alive. With wants and desires of my own again. Knowing, that I control their reality.
Happiness. Laughter. I find myself not thinking before I speak, for once. This will probably be my ultimate downfall. For now, I don't care.
The Puddleby Players had an enjoyable time with limericks after our rehearsals. I wanted to remember these, so I write them here:
Measle: "There once was a girl called Aspasia Who worked as an object of plaisure She wears skimpy threads And always turns heads Even Stora, and he's hard to phase, yeah"
Pun'isher: "There once was a fen named Largo Who liked to tote around cargo But the cargo alas Was his big round ass That it was bigger than the city of fargo"
Largo: "There once was an elf named Pun'isher She thought she was very funny, sure But her pink hair, And her very dull stare, Made people yell "run-its-her" (edited by Measle)
Aspasia: "There once was a gent named Measle Some lasses thought him a weasle Though his smile, he did flash And with a wiggle of his ass-ets He gave them all a tease 'le."
Punisher: "Measle was a block from the seas Who had is way with the npcs To the lady with clay She would mold him all day I guess you could say he was easy"
Measle: "There was a girl called Illora Who was a terrible snorer So she put in a plug Called it Miug And did a Largo type ending ignorer"
Measle: "There once was a sylvan called Andy Who was feeling decidedly randy He wouldn't betray us The Puddleby Playas Because actresses always are handy"
Aspasia: "The Human nicknamed Andy Had a reputation for being quite randy With a tip of his flask And a Sylvan bottom to grasp Oh, isn't life dandy"
"Measle, the most handsome bard All the males were always on guard But the girls he would sway To the Tor, they were away Too bad he could never get hard"
"Largo, a fashionable Fen Was quite the gentle among men Proven smarter than dirt When he wore his orange shirt Now Thoomcare has a story again"
I seemed to be on a roll at the end. Look for the latter in Thoomcare, perhaps.
We are defined by so many things in this life Hopes, dreams, fears and desires Some are fleeting A whisper on the wind So soon forgotten As if it never really touched our skin Most are buried Deep within our souls Horded like a pirate's treasure Never to see the light of day Others still, creep in shadow Emerging from time to time Haunting our conscious state An incorporeal need Lacking the ability to touch More so, others are a flower Blossoming in the dead of winter An impossible sweetness Longing for a well placed pruning Captured and caged within a crystalline vase Beauty to gaze at, from afar Inhaled rapture, teasing along the tongue Yearning to touch but denied that decadence Frightened away by the reality of thorns So, we hide these away We deny ourselves all of our Hopes, dreams, fears and desires For the illusion of safety and control And for this, I weep Weep for us all
I am the blank canvas on which to paint your love Slow careful brush strokes coloring over pale shoulders Feathered bristles outlining contours blending shadows I blossom in the colors you choose for your palette Creamy milk with sunwarmed honey The whites and yellows of my skin Midnight streaked skies The black of my hair Deep amethyst The purple jewels of my eyes Salty tang of blood, wet with shine The color of my lips and cheeks Paint me with your love Paint me with pleasure and pain Make of me, your masterpiece