Between Two Worlds: Greet the Day
Posted on Wed Apr 11th, 2018 @ 10:45am by
Location: Betazed, Temple of Altha
Timeline: ~18 yrs ago
In the rays of the morning sun, Ozanna watched her mother rise from the bed beside her, stretching and standing in her night robe, the light filtering through the fabric and making plain the silhouette of her form.
She bowed and said, “Altha, in all peace and strength,” then quarter turned and bowed again, “Imza, in all love and charity,” another quarter turn and bow, “Fana, in all breath and life,” and with a final turn and dip of the body from the waist, “Tholta in all truth and wisdom.”.
Her mother’s eyes then rested on her, and Ozanna knew that she had been seen awake. She closed her eyes and pretended not to be. But then laughed as her mother’s long fingers found her ribs.
“Rise, little one! The cleansing must come before we eat. Today is a special day for you.”
“A special one?” Ozanna quested for her mother’s thoughts now telepathically, which came much more easily than speaking.
*Is it a ceremony? Or a rite?*
*A holy day?*
*Not this time.*
*A celebration? A feast? A procession?*
*None of these things.*
*Are new people coming?*
Her mother pursed her lips and Ozanna got the sense that she might have guessed right in some part. “You will see,” her mother said, lifting her out of bed and setting her on the floor.
*Greet the day,* her mother directed telepathically as she shook out and rolled the bedding.
Ozanna sighed, looking at her pudgy bare feet and then over at her mother’s elegant feet, with their lace of tattoos climbing and spiraling about her ankles.
“Altha in all peace and strength. Imza in all love and charity. Fana in all breath and life. Tholta in all truth and wisdom.” Even as she spun and bowed and lisped the words through her missing baby teeth, she knew somehow that it was not as graceful as her mother's spare motions, or as enunciated and musical her mother’s voice.
She was lifted in her mother’s warm embrace and kissed. Ozanna’s fingers were, one hand, in her own whispy hair, while patting her mother’s smooth head, wondering why she had none. In its place only the intricate web of lines, crossing and weaving over her scalp like a dark lace. The lines increased over time, and Ozanna wondered when her own mrks would grow. He mother laughed at the girl’s stray thought as she carried her out to the broad stair where the other Sisters of the Way of Altha were also collecting and descending in night robes.
A morning mist, not uncommon to this altitude in the Betazoid jungle, shrouded parts of the temple, so that Ozanna did wonder as she looked around, if the whole of the building on it’s precipice were not instead adrift on clouds. As they approached the well-spring, Ozanna shrunk back. She hated the cold water in the morning. In the heat of the afternoon it was quite a different matter, but in the cool of morning? Unconcerned with the girl’s wishes, her mother carried her into the water, where, like the other sisters, they shed their night robes, letting them lie in the water where attendants would come after them and wash and dry the night gowns. Ozanna saw her small gown rise as a circlet, small among the rest of the billowing, bodiless gowns. It looked as if spirits inhabited them now in place of people. She shivered and clung to her mother who lathered them both before they passed under the libation bowl of the statue of Altha’s maid servant, Leighthi. Her mother paused in the stream of water to rinse out Ozanna’s hair, and here she protested and sputtered, not appreciating the spray in her mouth and eyes. Her mother maintained control over the writhing child and did not chide her cries, though the sound of them broke the peaceful morning ritual.
They climbed out of the pool, morning air zinging their wet skin, and were offered towels and sacred oils by attendants bearing tall, narrow-necked pitchers to pour from. One of the young ladies rubbed Ozanna dry, oiled her all over, and then wrapped her around in a long stretch of cloth, belting it in the middle, though the little girl was the same circumference at butt waist and bust.
“There you are, little one. Try to stay out of the mud today, hm?” the attendant advised as she returned the dressed girl to the mother, similarly robbed, but so much more striking.
Ozanna looked back over the pool, knowing that in the evening, under moonlight, they would pass through again in the reverse direction, leaving their day robes in the water and donning the nightgowns they had shed.
The mother led her daughter away by the hand. “Come now,” she said. “We will take breakfast in the garden.”
Ozanna found that odd. They usually spent the morning dining and talking with the sisters until mother was called away by the bells for her time of service in the sacred hall. Only then would she go to the gardens with the attendants and a few of the other girls to play.
But she did not question it. She preferred the gardens.