R. C. SmithShort Stories and Vignettes

Do not read my works if you are offended by descriptions of sexuality and violence.
(Do not read them just for those descriptions, either.)

Rose Offering

“Today is the day of the seventh full moon, you will bring an offering to the shrine of the Goddess.”

“Yes, Mistress, thank you.”

You know which shrine that is — the small ancient shrine beneath the big tree on that knoll deep in the wood. It is for a minor Goddess, and the offering will be a symbolic one. Still, the offering has to be made.

You look up at the sky. It is still early in the morning, you will have no problem reaching the shrine and being back before the nightfall. It will not be an easy task, crossing the dark wood, even in daylight, but you have done it before. Not an easy task for a girl who wears nothing but her Mistress’s collar, which, in the fields and villages outside of the town, will not protect her from being called to serve — but it will protect you from being harmed, from being detained, from being hindered to perform your duty.

Having your body used by some peasants or passers-by for their pleasures will delay you for an hour, or maybe two, but then you will have left the town’s surroundings, and will be in the wood, where it is unlikely that you will encounter any more people. The path you will have to follow is narrow, and in some parts it is overgrown with thorn bushes, but not so thickly that you could not get through; the pain of the scratches and the blood on your skin you will have to ignore. If you keep up a good speed, do not rest, do not stray, you will reach the shrine in the early afternoon, and you will be back in time ... just in time ... and should you further be delayed by requests for your services on your way back, it will be outside of the wood, in inhabited country, in view of the town, and it may be inconvenient, but you will be safe ...

You shudder as you fail to suppress a thought of the wood at night. Men, armed men, in groups, with torches, have entered it, have even crossed it, when necessary. But a girl, a naked unarmed girl on her own, who happens to be in the wood after dark, would never be seen or heard of again ... girls have disappeared ... bones have been found, sometimes, but never skulls ...

“What offering shall I bring the Goddess, my Mistress?” you ask.

“A rose from my garden,” the Mistress says. She is sitting on a stone bench in front of her house, nude, comfortably reclining on a set of soft pillows. As is her habit, she absent-mindedly fingers herself, as she looks at her garden — the different rose beds — she is looking for the right rose to pick. Then she frowns.

“Weed the beds before you go,” she says.

“My Mistress,” you say, “this means I can not go before the noon.”

“Yes?” she says.

“I will be in the wood when night falls,” you say. “I will die.”

“So?” she says.

You blush deeply, the heat of your shame is burning you. How could you have dared to insult your Mistress by speaking unrequestedly, by talking down to her, by presumptiously pointing out to her the obvious, by bothering her with inconsequential matters of your own?

How could you have done this?

With greatest effort you fight down your tears of guilt and shame and remorse — to your unforgivable insult you must not add the offense of exposing her to an unwarranted display of your self-centered and self-righteous petty emotions.

You do not move, you hardly dare to breathe.

“Bring me a drink before you start weeding.”

“Thank you, my Mistress,” you say, overwhelmed with joy and relief. And while you pull out the weeds, though you keep your eyes down, you are aware of her gaze upon you, and you know that she enjoys watching you doing the garden-work, a beautiful girl, soon to die at her whim, moving gracefully among the flowers ...

(08/2009)

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