“I was brought up in a community called Sashenka, which was also the divine name of the divine leader, descendant of the divine spiritual line. We also referred to the community as Tempenka by voice as to not insult the divinity by vocality noise. This mixed the words of temple and Sashenka. I had been born into Tempenka by parents who had joined when they were both sixteen. They had relinquished to Sashenka directly any acknowledgement of any other life but this community one. It had about 185 members by the time I left. About half were generational members, the rest new members who had added their life to the binding. Tempenka itself was about 150 years old. They did not recruit and were suspicious and paranoid about outsiders. New members had to know of Tempenka and actively attempt to join. Tempenka did not participate in a wider social community and never integrated. The one who assumed the role of Sashenka not so much egalitarian as it was by divine prophecy and although was considered divine by decent of bloodline, it was the divine that made blood purity, not the descendent of any human by direct hereditary rights. Tempenka had developed its own language, Tranqi, a hybrid mixture of about three languages descending from the founders and meshed over time, melded and folded paper like with new members integrating. I was educated in Tranqi. Kai and me were born the same day, our mothers bodies bloodied and spilling to fruit the earth in unison. Due to Tempenka doctrine, a prophecy was waited for as births on the same day were fortuitous, the soil double-blessed with supplicant gifts. Sashenka decreed we shall be soul mates, divine destiny to be bound at divine times. By bounding, the meant exclusive breeding. The destiny divine time was decreed by Sashenka, prophet leader. We were named by a communication via a prophecy, which also decreed we were the single soul, dual bodied future leaders of the community. We would become Sashenka. My name, Luna de la Sky, means Moon of the Celestial Sphere. Kai-Tashenka Semyra means Tree with Deep Earthen Roots. Our names forma a balance of each other, an ecliptic harmony. If we had stayed, our names of the breeding would have been Lai-mn Anhi Tule and Secah-Qurl Ryma. Both are variants with the same meaning –sky and earth produce the celestial stars” Luna paused to swallow another CLS, brewed and waiting on the table.
“Your children were named?” asked Chloe, gently, reassuringly to Luna that she was listening.
“It was the divinity prophecy Sashenka said. All children belonged to Tempenka, or rather it was a community belonging to each other and the social ideology of group dynamics. Everyone was equally responsible for everyone and for yourself. Community was everything, paramount not just in ideology but in the lives we led and in the word that we did and in the music that we played, the bodies as they danced. This was why most members were there.” Luna’s face was so fallen that Chloe gasped, then reached across the table and folded Luna’s hands within her own.
“I didn’t know who my parents were until I left and even now it is simply suspicion. It is forbidden knowledge. The birth givers will know, the adults of the community know, but they will not say, will not speak of any child with possession. I found out their names when I left and had received a copy of my birth certificate. Everyone who joined the community was given a cleansed, divine name, free of the filth of the world they had discarded. They rarely changed it legally, thou. I have a copy of my birth certificate because Tempenka was…is…very conscious of being as legal as possible. I was told I was new blood, and I knew that there were only two people in the time before our birth. They presented themselves publically as a basic, communal farming community, and they did not want any government or police intrusion. The community buildings were clustered inside a wooded area, off centre right at the middle of the property. There was then cleared farming fields with corn, wheat, I think fruit and paddocks with cows, goats, chickens, and then a thicket of trees running inside the fence line. A creek ran through our property, along a north-west to south east delineation. It split some fields naturally and provide us with water. Where it ran our property, the trees and plant life had been left four meters along the outer edges to protect the purity of the water. The community was private, and individuality was less important than the community. The older you became, the more responsibility you were given in the community. Kai and me became inseparable, secluded and separated by our own difference, our joint divinity, as much as by our choice. When we turned 168 moons, Sashenka announced our “Flowering” or our first child was sent to bloom, a divine prophecy, an inspired co-joining of ancient and new blood lines. Kai family had been one of the sounding families. We learnt more about our blood-lines than most in the community as we were in training to become Sashenka, and permission was needed to participate in bonding, and we needed to understand the connections. Usually bonding for child flowering was for the ‘middling’ or people who have past 240 moon age. We were young and concern was raised regarding the flowering of us too early for the outside to accept, as we would have been approximately 14. There was a consideration that this may be illegal and would highlight our community to the outside unnecessarily. However, Sashenka called a convocation. The council was one adult member for every 120 moons over the age of 240 moons. The convocation was every adult member of the community. A week after the convocation, a ceremony was called, then a celebration. The convocation had passed out bonding placement. We were placed in the ceremonial room, inside the circle, next to the creek, hemmed in by trees. The cloth canvas was green to match the surrounding forest, and the floor earth covered in moss, for us to blend natures focus towards each other. Council guardians were assigned to watch us consummate the divination.”
Luna, tears twinkling in the firelight, gleaned a sharp spiked breath before continuing.
“This hut, this tent, was outside the edge of the village. The village at the centre of the property, within the forested enclave. The farmland that the community tilled, then the forested border to keep the world out and the divine in. The creek, this creek that ran through our property and had never been stripped of its protection and was left with craggy, fluffy trees edging the snaking watery pathway out beyond the boundary. Kai and I did what we needed, what was expected for the bounding under watchful eyes before they left us, momentarily, to inform Sashenka and for us to meditate together and bond the sky and the earth together. There was silence as they retreated, temporarily to return to the continued celebrations with the rest of the community. It would have been like this the rest of the night, us bonding with an observing guardian, our silent meditation and the continued celebration of the community. Our bonding and the accompanying celebration was divinated into a six cycle contact. Kai and I would have to meditate in between the bonding on six cycle presences. We felt broken, our closeness struck arrow struck by the hunters bow. Our bond of togetherness had been violated, used against us, single soul in twin bodies, brother and sister reflections an illusion thrown back at is. We were once innocent, but had been thrown into a responsibility we didn’t understand. So, leaving scattered remains in our wake, we ran. We were only 168 moons, still 72 moons away from our entry into the convocation in the community, our consideration as full community members. We had never left the farm. Never participated in the outside, wider community. We had never done such basic things like caught a bus, rode in a car, been to school, watched television, listened to radio, used a computer or seen any of these things. We had never eaten anything deep fried, or drank anything like soft drink. Had never spoken anything but Tranqi. Yet we ran. Were 168 moons and had never left the farm. We used the creek as cover, rustling quietly inside the tree deepness until we hit the fence line and tumbled onto the road where it hit the hardline edge of the creek property. We kept going, walking shoeless and wrapped only in ceremonial embroidered robes over our nakedness. A trucker eventually picked us up, but kicked us out rather quickly due to our inability to speak or understand the language he was speaking. He looked at us as if we were alien and I guess we were looking at him the same. We were once again stranded and although exhausted, terrified and alone, we jumped trailer’s, vans, trains, did whatever we needed. We kept moving in case they had followed us, for days and days until we eventually wound away across the scars of the earth to end up here. We knew so little of this world, the language it used to exist had never been a part of mine. We became scavengers, living on the hard underbelly of this brutal place, on the deep streets for eight months, learning how to exist in this world. We did many things that I am not proud of. That we are not proud of. Yet we learnt, quickly, how to exist, how to shelter, learnt our voices for the first time. Eight months and we made a mistake. Food usually could be gained for free from a charity, or one of those mobile food vans. Clothes, however, were not so easy. We stole some and we were caught. Social services collected us from a police station. We still communicated mostly in Tranqi. We were separated by our differences. We refused to speak. We were separated and placed into foster care when the store did not press charges. It was devastating for us, never having been apart, suffering even more than we already had. We had never considered separating, even when we ran from our community. We ran from our first three placements and from a group home. I met Galla in that group home. We were in the same dorm, she in the bunk bed above my own. They had gendered dorms, so Kai and I were more often apart than not. The meal times and the music room became Kai’s and mine only monitored interaction. Every time we were together, we were watched intensely, as we were considered flight risks. I think they would have separated is permanently if they could have, but we would not function without each other. Galla didn’t speak much, mostly played this battered violin and belted anyone who touched it. She slept with it, breathed it. The foster system can be toxic, and we survive when we hang on to the few things of beauty we have. This is how, and probably why we connected, music a language between us before anything else. She was placed, moved into care before we escaped, returned before we were caught again, bruised from the beatings taken again, arm slung in a cast and remained behind when I had been placed with Gretchen. Galla stayed with the state after that, battled and gained her emancipation at 16. We stayed in contact, burdened as we were by forces we could not control, she helped me get the job at Pacer when I was 16.”
Luna paused, a CLS slipping past her lips, waiting for the irredeemable inky dark memories upon her face to clear again before she continued, settling the wavering in her voice.
“Our 180 moon birth month was celebrated in a social service office, our case worker at a loss with what to do with silent children. This was where another department got involved. They needed information on Tempenka only we could provide. They had failed in sending anyone in. This time they really separated us. Told us unless we talked we would never see each other again. Seven days of silence. We knew our power, understood our power, we understood our ability to leverage the information we had against what they wanted. We had been within the deep of the city far too long now surviving to not smell their desperation. So we waited, our souls so inexorably intertwined in the shreds of our lives that our physical separation became just that. Their threats against our future meant nothing in comparison to our past. 7 days and then they broke, offering us everything to gain what they desired, excepting a joint placement. They showed us the psychologist reports recommending this for our own development. We knew that is was only a bed and not a permanent separation, so we agreed. After that, change was rapid. Our case manager changed. I was placed with a middle aged surgeon who allegedly fostered high risk children, Gretchen Zima Enkah, kai with a married couple with a pair of daughters. In the end, I think it was a perfect choice, as we got to see something we would never have seen had we remained together; the world around us. It allowed us to forgive ourselves for the past, probably the future. Due to my educational issues, Gretchen had me privately tutored and in the three years that I spent with her, I managed to graduate high school, as well as having a specialist linguistics minor. I know how fortunate we are, we were. Extremely fortunate. I have been working for Pacer since shortly after I moved with Gretchen, and when we were lucky enough to be considered adults, at 18, Kai and I moved into our own apartment” Luna smiled “actually, our education with Tempenka was very good. It was predominant in natural sciences and maths, and in performance, music and theatre arts, in addition Tranqi. What I, what we, lacked in social, political and cultural development was made up for in these areas.”
Luna stoped, and then untwined her hands from Chloe’s, pouring another CLS. Chloe leaned over the table and kissed Luna gently. Luna smiled, then asked “Not Scared?”
Chloe shook her head “Of course not. You are…I cannot imagine myself without you”
They kissed again, softly, but they lingered as it deepened, warmed, filled. Luna leaned back, her breathing jittery, then startled “Sorry. Have to go”
“330” Chloe asked, recovering quickly “to pick you up”
Luna nodded, and then they both slipped out of the booth, and out of the door together. Their fingerers intertwined, gently winding around each other. They weaved a couple of streets, loving each other within the silence resting between them. They reached the ally, the coded door, work. Chloe reached across the space between them and kissed Luna.
“Thank You. Really. Thank You.