Gary Baker, early 2010
(a piece from Losing Grip)
Hard air poured deep into Raspora's lungs, again causing her to arch her back in shock - yet
this time without a scream nor horrific pain. In short, she could think straight this time around. Not to mention how her eyes worked as well as they ever had, without the grey haze over everything over ten feet away.
Looking around with her back still arched, she could see white lamps high above her and nurses watching closely, clearing any doubt in her mind about having dreamed the last encounter with this place. She sighed deeply once her heart returned to a normal pace, and sat up onto her left elbow to look about her surroundings with a more dignified posture.
Its still the same old room, she told herself, with the same old nurses and the same old
doctors from years ago. And it dawned on her just how likely it was that the nurses and doctors were annoyed with her consistent convulsions upon reentering the realm of reality. The realm of ruins, after all, was just a dream - “not even real” many doctors had claimed when she was still new to the experience. So why, then, did she feel so much pain while in that realm and upon waking up?
An almost unseen shadow appeared on her right, beside the blinding lamp above, eclipsing her vision with a dark figure in front of an intense, surreal light. Her alone-time was up it seemed, leaving unanswered questions as just that. “Miss Ashura are you here? Mentally, I mean.”
Raspora turned her head to the doctor, allowing her eyes to focus on the female doctors name tag. “Sanue?” Raspora snorted. “Where’s Doctor Jolarie?”
The young doctor looked displeased, having been romantically rejected by Raspora in the
past. “Jolarie is off duty, Miss Ashura. I am here in her stead.”
At least she’s still nice, Raspora mused, but Jolarie would provide me with food. I might not
get irritated with Sanue so much if she brought food at some point. In truth, food was forbidden to any who had recently come through a traumatic return from the Realm of Ruins - it apparently made them sickly and reverently obedient, ever-hoping for more medication. Yet in Jolaries eyes, that was all a simple misunderstanding caused by an ancestral man from ages ago, who coincidentally had that happen right after his wifes suicide. And not one doctor was willing to make that mistake again - at least, so it was until Raspora came along in her young teens - not even worthy of feminine endowment - asking an exhausted doctor for a meal.
Ever since then Jolarie had been feeding Raspora a meal of apples and bread, with honey
and salt, all as a gift for her tolerance of the pain. But even without the food, Raspora liked
Jolarie because she enjoyed herself. Jolarie found life as tantalizing as any young woman
should, despite having just passed her thirty-second birthday, and gave that aura to all of her patients as well as her coworkers.
The fact that Raspora wished to embrace Jolarie with a lovers intent had nothing to do with
Sanue, however, was still young and eager to learn. She had never been to The Realm of
Ruins, never brought gifts to the newly returned, and wasn’t as appealing to the eyes as her higher-ranking colleague. Her test scores may have been higher than that of Jolarie, but she lacked that needed social charm that Raspora longed for in a potential lover. Raspora never thought of herself as picky - in fact she even developed urges for every female she saw in the Wevlorian minstrel hospital - but she still felt it necessary to keep up her standards.
Raspora shook herself from her daze, and actually looked at Sanue for the first time in weeks. Sanue wasn’t perfect in any way, yet she still held quite the share of beauty with the way she dressed. Her white doctoral jacket hung loosely from her shoulders, showing a curvaceous body in a skin tight blue blouse. The neck of her blousehung low in a wide shapely v, revealing cleavage perkier breasts than Raspora could remember. Sanues’ golden-blonde hair hung in loose curls, with two identical hoop earrings poking out from the depths, and they swung easily from Sanues movement as she watched her patient stare.
With lips of a seductress, Sanue motioned for Raspora to sit up. “Come now, Raspora, stop
staring and hold out your arm.”
Raspora glared. “I wasn’t staring Sanue,” she sat up slowly, then continued. “I was just
looking at how free you are today,” she motioned with her nose in a nod towards Sanues chest. “I mean you’re practically hanging out! Mind if I get a peek? - Oh wait - I‘m sorry - I forgot I’ve had one for the past few minutes now.”
The sarcastic remark wasn’t taken as well as Raspora had thought it would go, for Sanue
pulled up a chair and began scribbling notes into a book of parchment. “Words driven by
sexual tension,” she read aloud, “possibly a side effect of the violent convulsions. Seek further medication,” grinning devilishly, she looked directly into Rasporas green eyes. “Like perhaps a strong sedative.”
Frowning, Raspora crossed her arms and turned her head away. “Why are you here in place
of Jolarie? Cant the minstrels find a better doctor for me? I mean there are hundreds within
these walls that can far out-do you!”
Sanue let out a slight giggle, smiling with an unforeseen friendly face. She nodded to herself,
and spoke as softly as the rose she seemed to hide on the inside. “You always were the most
beautiful in Wevlore, Miss Ashura. Not even Jolarie could measure up. And we all looked forward to working with you, yet when your family sent you in as their gift, many lost hope!”
Raspora cocked her head, losing the heir of annoyance for a brief second. She was right, back in her early years Raspora was the subject of most future leaders’ conversations. She had it all: beautiful red hair, a lean-yet-curvy body, and even when she hadn’t any breasts to boast yet, the younger boys had wanted her to take their hand in marriage. Truthfully Raspora knew why she didn’t live that glorious idea now, why that idea of supreme fantasy and lore would never, nor could ever return: politics.
Flat out annoying politics. Politics of Wevlore: where it was unheard of to forget sending ones first-born daughter to the minstrels of science as a subject of scientific experimentation.
Her family had been wealthy - too wealthy - and because of that, they would never have been able to avoid sending her without a war being waged by the church. Raspora had been allowed her first ten years with her family to ‘generate social behavior’ - and not even a day after, she began her life as a servant of science. But anyone who knew her closely had their memories of her destroyed - only the doctors who admitted her into their union knew who she had loved, lived with, and called her family. No one else. And after ten years of pain caused by violent returns from the Realm of Ruins, even Raspora couldn’t remember anyone in particular from her old life - so, in reality, only one woman held the power to know who she was and who she knew all those years ago.
Yet if that were true Sanue couldn’t have known who she really was - or why her family had sent her to the minstrels… could she? Could the things that she had learned in her year of
initiation been false? Raspora inhaled suddenly. Maybe my family remembers me! The idea of having a mother or father that she could see, touch, and remember was far too great to comprehend. But if it were true, then…. Blessed gods! Blessed gods it cant be true! It just cant!
“Raspora? May I call you that? Your first name is still Raspora, correct?” Sanue looked even
more feeble now that Raspora looked at her with eyes of a friend. What right did she claim for the ability to insult this woman so badly all the time? Now that she thought about it, Sanue had never done anything wrong other than replace Jolarie when she was sick, or otherwise unable to attend her most needing patient. And only now, years after meeting this young doctor, did she realize just what she might be making Sanue think.
Raspora shifted her weight and moved her legs, allowing herself to face Sanue more easily. Taking the movement as a ‘yes,’ Sanue continued. “I am sorry for whatever I did to you, obviously you take quite a liking toward Doctor Jolarie and I had no right to insist upon being her understudy without your prior permission.” Tears began down her soft, freckled face, dragging lines of deep maroon make-up with them, staining any strands of hair that they touched. “So if you do not wish to see me around anymore, then I must oblige and walk away-” Sanue looked up suddenly - not noticing the tear on Rasporas’ own cheek, as there was no make-up on her face to highlight it like those on Sanue's. “But I needed to tell you that we miss you! Your own family had their memories of you taken from them, just like
the doctors in charge had said all those years ago… but me - me and my family, we-” She hit her breaking point, and stood up quickly, brushing her pale blue skirt flat. She bowed in apology, then began toward the door. “Please forgive me, Miss Ashura, it wasn't my place.”
Raspora, speechless with infinite questions and curious thoughts of how, why, and when,
just reached out her arm in protest - it seemed that was all she could force herself to do. Sanue paused by the door, waiting to be told not to go, yet Raspora couldn’t find the words. Why had Sanue withheld what she knew all those years? When did she ever know Sanue in the outer world? And why did Sanue’s family care more than Raspora’s own? Sanue looked like she was reaching twenty-five, while Raspora was only twenty - so how could they have known each other? From what the minstrels taught, all wealthy children had private tutors that came to their estates, so unless they were siblings - which wasn’t possible due to them both being at the institute - Sanue and Raspora could never have met.
Sanue opened the door, wiping her face with a small, soft, towel in her left hand.
“Sanue wait!” Raspora panted hard, as if she had just fought the Uphrates Castle phoenix with nothing but a knife and her fast reflexes. Sanue stopped in the doorway, crying again. Silence echoed in the room, broken only by the patter of footsteps and conversations in the outer hallway. Doctors walked with their patients, coworkers, and church officials, either balking out their orders or accepting new ones from the officials.
It was only then that Raspora noticed her unclothed body, covered by a paper-thin sheet from the mid-thigh to beyond her toes. Of course, she thought idly, the church doesn’t allow men within these walls, so why would they dress their patients? But that still didn’t remove her instinct to grab the sheet and cover her body with it. The only reason why she didn’t, was because she had more important issues at hand.
“Sanue, I’m sorry.” She breathed at last. Sanue turned her head to her left shoulder at this,
signifying that she was listening. A typical thing for the anti-social doctor to do when upset.
Knowing this, Raspora picked up where she left off. “I should never have insulted you, and -
had I known who you really were - I may have decided against it years ago.” She glanced at her feet, half-hidden by the thin, see-through cloth, and let out a loud sigh. “I just thought they were taking Jolarie away from me when you started coming in… and I could never bear life without her comforting me after reentering the real world.”
Sanue cringed with sorrowful fear, trembling in the door frame, unsure of what to do. Tears
still fell in streams, falling from her chin to the white linoleum floor below. “Sanue I-” Raspora hesitated, stalling, searching for the words that would keep Sanue around for longer. If she had only accepted Sanue’s explaination on that first day, way back when she had been told about Jolarie needing a week off due to some minor illness. Then suddenly she moved her hands to her chest, holding her breasts tight enough to bulge the flesh between her thumb and forefinger on both hands. “Damn these things! They control my mind!”
Sanue spun quickly, curly blonde hair flying outward from centrifugal motion. “What?!” A
smile found its way to her face and Raspora fundamentally grasped what she had just said.
Smiling from awkward laughter herself, Raspora played along as if she had meant to say
those words in that exact manner. “All I want from Jolarie when she is here by my side is a long embrace, one where we both find our body temperatures rising, and heartbeats racing, and…” she paused, beginning to fantasize visually in her mind, then shook her head hard to clear her thoughts. “My point, is that there are times when all I want is Jolarie to have sex with me - and those are coincidentally the times when you are here in her place.”
Sanue stepped back inside, closing the door behind her, and crossed her arms. Leaning
against the door, Raspora saw just how great Sanue looked in her own way. She may not have been the sexiest woman alive, but she certainly wasn’t a black mark on the scale of beauty either. Maybe the reason Raspora found a disliking toward Sanue in the past years, was just the fact that she had no desire to bed with her. Thoughts about passionate sex did, after all, nearly control Rasporas every thought while in the real world as per the side effects of the mental re-stabilization medication. So when someone held no libidinous beauty, Raspora barely noticed the real them.
“You can let go of them, hun.” Sanue noted.
Raspora cocked her head to the side, then saw that she still held her chest tightly enough to
leave indentation marks from her nails. Startling, Raspora yanked her hands back to the bedding, looking ashamed of having gotten distracted so quickly and easily.
Sanue raised her chin in Rasporas direction. “So you hated me because you wanted release?” She smiled again, embarrassing Raspora even further - yet this time she deserved it so she did nothing to stop it. “You know we can give you a sedative to fix that, right?”
“I don’t need to spend any less time in the real world than I already do, Sanue.”
She nodded. “Aha, I forgot you were Jolaries precious prodigy. I’ll take that into
account in the future.”
“Jolarie is getting old-”
“She’s only thirty-two!”
“And the minstrels want her to finally accept penance in the idea of a higher rank.”
Raspora paused, a higher rank would probably mean new patients, or even a move to no
patients at all, but certainly a much higher salary no matter what. So why, then, did Jolarie still ask Raspora to continue with these tedious tests in the alternate realm? “Then why is she still here as a doctor? Putting me through all these quests in the name of scientific discovery, is that all a way to take up her time?!”
Sanue pushed off of the door and motioned to the bed Raspora sat in. “Do you mind?”
“No, not at all!” Raspora pulled her feet up to sit cross-legged, allowing the useless sheet
to stay in its place at the foot of her bed. She was absolutely uncovered now, leaving herself
completely revealed if someone were to bolt in through the door, though that usually didn’t happen.
Besides, Raspora told herself, only women are allowed inside the walls of the minstrel hospital - all of whom she assumed - or hoped, rather - had seen those parts many times in their lives on their own bodies.
Sanue sat down gently, careful to not mess up the bedding. “Jolarie-” she began, eyes
transfixed on the vase of flowers on a pedestal beside the door. “She really is a confusing
woman. She flirts with every one of us doctors, and when we ask for more she avoids us like
a plague.” She looked over to Raspora, and they shared a glance of silence. “But with you she
never flirts, and is willing to break the rules in order to allow you more comfort - I mean we all know about your meals after every return. Not even the minstrels can ignore it these days!”
Raspora watched as her former enemy talked on about her future lover, and began to wonder why she had ever hated Sanue. She could name the reasons, but couldn’t understand
them any longer. Sanue was beautiful; long, curly blonde hair with opposingly dark brown eyes, a semi-slender figure, with curves of any young mother, and a smile that could cheer up a god.
So why was there no sexual arousal gained by Raspora from Sanue’s image?
“I wish I could tell you, Raspora.” She still stared into Rasporas eyes, ever-holding their gaze
as if they could never see each other again. “But if I did, then we would be split up!”
“Tell me what?” Raspora demanded. “And why would we be ‘split up’ if you told me?”
Sanue smiled. “That’s rhetorical, right?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Because I know you arent that dumb!”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean it as an insult.” Sanue apologized. “I just remember you being quite the
brightest I knew back when you-” With a gasp, Sanue's hands darted to her mouth and
shook her head violently. “Oh dear!”
Raspora sneered, looking past those brown eyes that held so many secrets and yet so many
lies as well. How could one so innocent be so insidiously wrong? “ Malevolence,” She began, “it can get the best of us at times cant it?” Smiling, she scooted closer to Sanue and pulled her closer. Raspora wondered what it must feel like, having a naked red-haired patient pull one close enough to hug - when just minutes ago they were enemies.
Sanue nodded. “Indeed it can.”
Raspora moved her right hand to Sanue’s left shoulder, and hugged her closely. As
expected, Sanue hesitated, then unexpectedly hugged back. “Don’t worry, I wont ask for further answers.” She pulled away and kissed Sanues ear, then pulled herself closer once more.
Sanue looked sidelong at Raspora, who held close, almost in a romantic manner. “Raspora
“What is it?”
Raspora's former enemy glanced to the sides, around the room, to the door, and finally back
to meet her eyes again. Taken aback, Raspora watched with careful indignation as Sanue
contemplated what to say. “You don’t even know my last name-do you?”
Shaking her head, Raspora answered easily. “No, why do you ask?”
The nurse hugged her patient close, and Raspora realized just how fast her heart was racing.
Had she been given a drug? Why do I suddenly want to…? She looked into Sanues eyes,
waiting, hoping, craving for the right moment to grab her and pull her closer than any before.
Sanue suddenly seemed amazingly beautiful. Her hair moved in just the right way, and her lips moved in an enticing manner - enough that even Jolarie would be jealous. And Raspora found herself trying to imagine what Sanue would look like with half the amount of clothing - or less.
“Raspora, my name…” she began, hesitating, almost stalling. “Is Sanue; as you know… but
my last initial is the letter…” Raspora drew closer, feeling like a vampire to her victim. A victim best consumed without any clothing in the way! Her right hand grabbed Sanues left shoulder, lacing her thumb underneath the white jacket and blue blouse sleeve, beginning to pull them off. Her right hand then trailed down to the base of Sanues legs, where they converged with her torso and began to creep into her skirt from underneath. Then Sanues own hands found Rasporas own, stopping her from any further disrobing. “Is the
The room echoed in silence.
“So?” Raspora glared, Sanue finally was about to have what she had always wanted, and she stopped it to tell her that her last name began with the letter - Raspora's eyes burst open as far as they could. “Holy shit!”