Chapter 3: (v.2) Chapter Two

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 256

Tannis (Kessel)

Hamlin Royal Academy


Hamlin Royal Academy, was the premier institution for advanced education in the Kingdom of Akadia.  Reserved primarily, for the progeny of the elite, the academy does not exclude anyone who can meet its stringent requirements, and its exorbitant tuition.  Established by the Cordova Society, it was constructed over three hundred years ago, during a period of great opulence and architectural extravagance.  Hamlin was a sprawling city of domes, arches, pillars, grand halls, vaulted ceilings and lush gardens. Every space was decadently adorned with ivory figures of flowers, animals or fabled characters.  Every corner displayed meticulously carved statues of Kessel’s historical greats. The Academy was christened after Kessel's first King of the Akadian Union, Hamlin the third.

Attendance at Hamlin, as it was simply called, was a near guarantee of financial success and social acceptance, especially for anyone invited to the Cordova, which was the Academy’s Post graduate institution.  The Cordova offers a substantial grant to the top graduate in each of its thirteen disciplines. Very few of Hamlin’s students are invited to the Cordova, and of those invited, even fewer students survive the trials and are accepted. To be Cordova sealed, meant several years of rigorous study and intense debate. The final month is spent in exams, dissertations and oral arguments before a Board of chosen experts, who are themselves Cordova sealed.  Before the Board they are tried, tested and interrogated, after which, by unanimous decision, up to thirteen students each year may be declared Cordova sealed.

In the grand lecture hall of the well-respected Professor of Historical Analysis Vaunt Ambeggon, the Lady Anya Yemen, a Cordova invitee, sat patiently before the unusually large class, waiting to be introduced. She was a distinctly fair-skinned woman from the Planet Knome, a feature, she shared with most of her people. Her golden long hair, framed her fair face, green eyes and naturally blood red lips like a work of art.  She was stunningly beautiful and every eye in the lecture hall was irresistibly focused on her. Professor Ambeggon asked Anya to commemorate the ongoing Knomen admission talks, by assisting him in the inaugural class of Knomen History. As the eldest daughter of Prince Yuri Yemen, the Knomen Republic's ruler, she had a unique perspective from which much could be learned and absorbed. A recent graduate of the Academy herself, Anya was excited for the opportunity to instruct others about her home, her people, and her culture.

Anya had spent more than half her life in Akadia.  When she was ten years old, her father, sent her away to be educated in the more advanced Akadian schools, that, was one reason.  The other reason, was to get her out of Knome.  Anya was born on a holy day, called the day of offerings. Anya's mother, Mura, was also born on that day, as was, her grandmother. This birth was not just an unusual coincidence, to the Kakau tribe, Anya's birth was prophetic. Anya was half Kakau on her mother's side and Pallute on her fathers. To the Kakaus, Anya was "the blessed," a gift from the Gods. She was a conduit for the Gods, which was the reason for her exquisite beauty, so that all might come to her and receive a blessing. Crowds followed Anya everywhere she was rumored to be, trying to get a glimpse of, "this blessing of the Gods." It was believed that Anya, could perform miracles, heal the sick and even raise the dead. Just a look into the face of “the blessed,” could mean wealth, health, or a blessing of many children. On one outing, the crowds were unusually aggressive, and Anya, was abducted by a family of Kakaus, in an effort to resurrect a departed family member. She was forced to participate in a ritual rebirth ceremony of, washing the dead, Anya was traumatized by this, and even more so, when men, women and even children died, in her eventual rescue. So, Yuri, to avoid any future incidents, sent her, to Akadia.

For Anya, life was less frenzied in Akadia, less stressful and emotionally she was less acrimonious.  Yet even in Acadia, she still had to deal with the followers, watchers and admirers, although such were far less fanatical, than those she had to suffer at home.  Relations between the Knomen and Akadian governments was just beginning to improve.  Knome, once a colony of Akadia, won its Independence some fifty years earlier in a very bitter war. So, although politically, relations were improving, still, hatreds and prejudices persisted, like weeds, not easily removed. 

So, Anya, was very eager, when the opportunity to serve as an associate Professor was offered to her. She was especially excited that her tenure would be in the field of Knomen history. She looked upon it as an opportunity for her to chip away at the prejudicial feelings, and the sheer hostility, that many Akadians still held, for all things Knomen.  The reports and incidents of bias against her people residing in Acadia, were disturbing to her. Even she, did not escape that bias. Although she was surrounded and protected by a heavy security presence, her eyes were not shielded from the terrible injustices her people faced in Akadia. Nor, was she immune from them herself. 

Over the years, Anya had managed to develop some rather close friendships with a few young women from some of Kessel’s elite families.  Anya cherished those friendships, they made her feel accepted, unburdened by the constant feeling of not belonging.

However, one day, Anya received a message mistakenly forwarded to her.  Reading that message was a turning point in her young life. The message had come from one of her friends, and was meant for another in her circle of friends. Although she was not the main target in the message, whenever she was referenced, it was in a very derogative way.  Racial slurs were even used to describe her, "the princess maggot,” that, was how her friends, described her in the message. Anya was devastated.  In time, she confronted her friends regarding the message, in hopes of attaining an apology and maintaining her friendships. However, she was shocked by their unapologetic reaction. It was puzzling to her, how could they maintain a close amicable relationship with her and yet harbor such hatred, she wondered if they ever really cared for her.  Anya was truly stunned and crushed. She had poured out her soul to those she regarded as real friends, yet to them, she was a maggot. That word disgusted her. It robbed a sense of self-worth from her and she retreated into a very familiar shell, isolating herself from others. 

Anya, however, found reprieve, in her studies, becoming absorbed in them. Anya had always excelled academically, but now she was on a mission and she was in the running for the King’s Ring, a coveted award granted to Hamlin Academy’s top academic student, which also came with an honorary position on the King’s Council of Advisors. Anya desperately wanted to win the King's Ring, she wanted to destroy some of the negative stereotypes Akadians had for Knomens.  She wanted to be the first Knomen on the King's Council of Advisors. This possibility caused no little stir among Hamlin’s academics and among some political circles.  But for Anya, the talk, was even more of an incentive for her.

Sometime later, she was asked to tutor a student who needed help so as to avoid becoming a political embarrassment.  At first Anya refused, not wanting to give anyone an opportunity to hurt her again. However, after receiving quite a bit of pressure from the Dean, she reluctantly agreed.  This request from the Dean, had a twofold purpose, first, Prince Wilhelm Antilla, son of the Akadian ruler, was doing poorly in his studies. And, as heir to the Akadian throne, he needed to prove that he has the intellectual capacity to govern, and his marks needed to reflect that fact.  Now, the second purpose of the Dean’s request, unbeknownst to Anya, was that, by adding this extra weight on her, this extra strain, it would prove to be enough, to prevent her from winning, the King’s ring.  And It worked. 

Prince Wilhelm was a difficult student, she could see that he was intelligent enough, however his problem stemmed from a lack of motivation. He wanted to do anything else other than study.  It was a real effort for Anya to keep Wilhelm on task.  He would constantly change the subject and, on more than one occasion, she had to scold him, threatening to end their tutoring sessions if he did not behave. Wilhelm, would apologize profusely and proceed to do it again.  But as her academic points began to dip, putting her in second place, Anya abruptly quit tutoring Wilhelm. For several weeks, she resisted all efforts from the Dean and his staff to resume tutoring Wilhelm.  Nothing they tried or offered, worked. However, Anya finally did resume her tutoring sessions with Wilhelm.  It was an ache in her heart that made her return.  In the absence, Anya had discovered that she had developed feelings for Wilhelm, and now she longed to be in his presence once again. Their sessions, were different now. Wilhelm was a model student, yet now, Anya, wanted him, to change subjects.  She wanted to hear his comical stories, his antidote to Moorbia's problems, his self-doubts, for they all revealed something endearing about him.  She would even subtly probe him for information off topic, watching a spark come to his eye, only to be suppressed by his inner sense of duty.

In one tutoring session, Anya was not herself, she was in a very somber mood.  An encounter with a former companion of hers earlier that day, sent her into a depressive episode.  She had so missed their association.  She missed the closeness of a friend, having someone to confide in, but she had no one.  Seeing one of her friends alone, she summoned up the courage to speak to her. She wanted to make amends, she wanted a companion. The encounter did not go well.  This time she was publicly humiliated when her friend laughed at her and ridiculed her in in the presence of others.  Anya departed in tears. This affront, worse than before, it deeply hurt her, again making her feel worthless. She was beginning to develop a distinct animosity for Akadians.

Wilhelm had noticed that Anya wasn’t herself and he tried to bring her out of it, but her responses to him were cold, dark, and even cutting. Wilhelm had never seen her in such a mood, he wanted to discover the reason for her uncharacteristic display. He took both her hands, startling her, and asked her what was wrong.  That gesture, was just enough to melt away Anya's resistance, she could not hold back her tears. She confessed all to him, explaining in detail, what had happened to her, and how if made her feel. She admitted to him, her feelings of worthlessness as a Knoman living in Akadia.  She felt exhausted from the constant guard she had to maintain to protect her feelings, her sanity.  She wanted to go home. Wilhelm listened to her, never letting go of her hands, and he seemed truly saddened by what had happened to her.  Anya needed his silent empathy so much.  She had no one to help her carry the burdens of her sorrows.  His warm hands and concerned face, the mist she saw in his eyes, encouraged her to speak, and she did, for quite some time, and yet, Wilhelm did not flinch in his sincere support for her.

Anya felt the increased pressure of his hands as he held hers more firmly. The look in his eyes had changed, the pace of his breathing, had changed, and this had a profound effect upon her.  She felt fearful, not in any negative sense, but for her fragile emotions, as she began to feel them, taking over her, flooding over her. She had never felt so vulnerable as she did at that moment and it petrified her. She bit her bottom lip to stop them from trembling. Wilhelm finally spoke, she recalled his words, ‘Anya, you are so beautiful, and I’m not surprised that it was probably very difficult for those young women to be in your presence.”  Anya immediately pulled her hands away from his, not out of any sense of disapproval, for she had heard, every compliment there was to hear.  She felt stares, had stalkers, admires and countless offers of marriage.  But, for as long as she had been around Wilhelm, never had she even had a sense, that he was attracted to her.  However, his words, the look in his eyes when he spoke them, coupled with the way she felt about him, awakened something inside her, something she had never experienced before, and with the touch and caressing warmth of his hands, it was more than she could endure at the moment.  Wilhelm, misinterpreted her reaction, and apologized, giving her space.  Anya quickly shook her head in response to his misinterpretation of her reaction. Anya took his hands, feeling the strength in his fingers and palms and as they covered her small and fragile hands, she felt lost. Something was happening to her that she didn’t understand.  It was something deeper that the attraction of a man, or her desire for him, or even the prospect of her first kiss. The tension that she felt earlier was gone, she no longer cared, she felt free, for the first time in her life she felt worthy, she felt wanted.

She thanked Wilhelm for his kind words. And for a moment they just looked into each other’s eyes, sensing, what they could not say in words.  Wilhelm, gently pulled Anya towards him, feeling no resistance in her, he placed a hand around her waist. Now, feeling Anya moving towards him, on her own, he pulled her closer.  With his other hand, he caressed her face, "You are so beautiful," he confessed, and kissed her warm lips.

A tap on the floor, finally broke through Anya's daydream. Professor Ambeggon asked her if she was alright.  Anya looked up and around to see if anyone else had noticed her trance, and all eyes were on her. Some of the students in the lecture hall, were quietly laughing, while others had puzzled looks on their faces, but, they were all, looking at her.  The Professor introduced Anya, for the third time.  Anya stood up clearly embarrassed, begging for the student’s forgiveness.

She had notes prepared but she did not take them out, not wanting to add any more distractions to her already shaky start.  She walked over to the lectern, and took a deep calming breath. Anya was modestly adorned considering her status as princess of Knome.  She wore a very plain dark green dress that hung over her frame, tapered to her waist and falling just below her knees. She was a mesmerizing distraction, no matter how modestly she bedecked herself. She again took a deep breath and looked up surveying the hall.

"I really consider it an honor to be here and I thank Professor Ambeggon very much for this opportunity. I thank all of you for your interest in this subject matter and I promise not, to put you to sleep." A wave of laughter swept through the classroom in response to her remark, prompting a stern tap on the floor by the professor. 

Anya continued, "What do you really know about Knome?  My father once told me that knowledge is relative, and I believe that.  We’ve all made judgements based on what we know and we’ve had to change course upon the acquisition of additional facts. That’s human, we are not omnipotent.  So, I ask again, what do you really know about Knome? Please, suspend what you know about Knome for the duration of this course.  Let us hunt for the facts together.  For instance, what caused the entire population of a planet to move to underground caverns. How could they survive without the warm heat of their mother star? How were lakes and rivers transported to their underground locations? These are just some of the questions we will probe as we hunt for knowledge.”

Not long into her lecture, the class was interrupted by a visit to the Lecture Hall, of a Royal Guard. As she continued speaking, Anya watched the guard, hand the professor a note. The professor quickly approached Anya, politely interrupted her speech, and handed her the note.  Anya again felt embarrassed as everyone watched and waited as she read the note.  A sense of dread flooded over her as she finished reading it. She whispered to the Professor, and then turning towards the class, she announced.

“I must apologize, I am being called away and I can’t refuse.  I am sorry that this has not been a great start to this course but I promise to make it up to you. I’m so sorry.”

There was a collectively groan in response as Professor Ambeggon again tapped his cane in a show of disapproval to the class reaction.  Disappointment registered on many of the faces of the students as Anya followed the Royal Guard out of the Lecture hall. The Guard led her, to the very next room, which was the professor's office. 

Anya paused at the door. She had mixed feelings about seeing Wilhelm.  She realized that she could no longer avoid him and, that, avoiding him it was really unfair.  Yet in her heart She desperately wanted to see him, to touch him, to kiss him.  But, she fought hard against those feelings and as soon as she felt determined in her mission she opened the door. When she saw Wilhelm, her heart sank.  He was tall, broad-shouldered, his face was as chiseled as a sculpture. His swarthy complexion, deep dark hazel eyes and the dark stubble that peppered his square jaw, matching his full mustache and wavy black hair, sent waves of chills through her body. For a moment she couldn’t move, she couldn’t speak, she couldn’t even remember why she was there, or what she was supposed to say to him. Her eyes diverted to his lips and she sighed almost verbally as she fought to control her emotions.  This was not going to be easy. She wanted to run and embrace him, that was instinctive; instead, as she gained her composure she resisted the urge, and stayed near the door, as it closed. Anya was truly happy to see him, but she used every fiber of her being to control herself, she did not want to lose her senses, to let her love for him, cloud her thinking, or blind her from something she had, to do.  She did not go to him, but kept her distance. 

Wilhelm's anxieties were all but vanquished upon seeing Anya, he walked up to her, and embraced her. Anya returned his embrace, and she was finding it difficult not to get lost in the moment as Wilhelm feverishly searched for her lips. As he tried to kiss her, she quickly backed away, feeling her resolve weakening under the passions of Wilhelm's attentions.  Wilhelm was shocked at her response, and for a moment he was confused. He just stared at her, frozen. He could not formulate any words, for none came to his mind, only emotions and anxieties. Anya's reaction had been unconscious, but now, seeing the hurt and puzzled look on Wilhelm’s face, pained her, she regretted her reaction.

“Oh Wilhelm, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that.”

Anya’s reaction, was confirmation to him, that something had changed in their relationship. Anya had returned to Akadia almost three weeks ago, after having been away for several months, and now, after all that time, she made no attempts to contact him. Nor, did she return his multiple attempts to contact her.  He had to find her, like an investigator, and corner her.  And now, she had fought his embrace, she had backed away from him, as if, she was repulsed by him.  Anya now, was finding it hard to look at him, whenever their eyes met, she felt the pain in his, she had hurt him, and now, what she was about to do, would hurt him even more.  She could not look into his eyes, glancing at the wall, the floor, his shoes.

For almost a year, they had been secretly seeing each other.  With Anya’s help, Wilhelm graduated respectably from the Academy, and although she did not win the King’s Ring, she felt more than compensated with Wilhelm’s love.  Letters flowed between them more frequently than they could meet.  No longer having the excuse of a tutoring session, they had to come up with ingenious ways to encounter one another.  On occasions, Wilhelm would escape from his escorts, only to surprise Anya in some disguise.  Or a note would find her with direction to some location where they would meet.  Soon their consuming love for each other caused them to take greater and greater risks of discovery just to steal a few moments or kisses. They had an exciting, and thrilling, whirlwind romance until, Anya, having graduated also, had to return home to Knome.

After some time, back home, Anya received an invitation to guest lecture with her former Professor on Knomen History.  She spoke to her parents about returning to Akadia, but they did not want her to return.  Her father in particular sensed a huge change in his daughter, she was more Akadian, than Knomen. It was telling in her dress, manner and conversation.  Yuri felt that she should now use her education, for the benefit of her people. But Anya pleaded with her parents so fervently that they began to sense the undercurrent of another issue affecting her desire to return to Akadia.  After some time, Anya, finally confessed her relationship with Wilhelm.  This was a great shock to her parents, and they probed her for details regarding the nature of their relationship. This revelation led to more than one heated discussion on the subject and Yuri was now adamant in his refusal to let Anya return to Akadia.  Anya did not speak to her father for weeks.  However, in time, with her mother's help, Yuri's stance, began to soften on letting her return to teach at the Academy.  However, his views regarding her relationship with Wilhelm did not change.  It was his only objection to her returning. 

Yuri and Anya spoke multiple times regarding her relationship with Wilhelm. Anya was disturbed by a question that her father kept bringing up to her, a question that she had no answer to. Where would it end? He asked her to consider, if Akadia would ever welcome, a Knomen Queen.  The thought was not new to Anya. As her relationship with Wilhelm deepened, she naturally began to think of marriage.  However, in her conversations with Wilhelm, it never came up, nor had she ever broached the subject with him. Yuri however, forced her to consider it, and, to talk about it.  He asked her in what, would her relationship with Wilhelm culminate, where would it end?  Anya could not say, because she did not know herself.  The question made her think seriously about what she and Wilhelm were doing. Yuri explained that since she was Knomen, her marriage to Wilhelm would never be accepted. He explained that there was just too much bitterness between Knomens and Akadians. It’s the reason, he told her, why their relationship had to be kept secret.  He told her that Wilhelm, would not, or never be allowed to marry her. Yuri asked her if Akadia would ever accept a Knomen Queen.  These questions were painful for her to consider, because in her heart she knew the truth, she had witnessed it for herself.  She thought of her former friends, she knew they would never accept her, she thought of the phrase, 'Maggot Queen,' and it pained her.  Yuri begged her to end her relationship with Wilhelm, for her own sanity. He told her that it would only end in humiliation and pain. As she thought about it, over time, she began to realized that what her father told her was true, that, she and Wilhelm, could never be together. 

For days, Anya mourned and cried, over her realization of this truth. She wrestled with every possibility, but it was all fantasy, there will never be a maggot queen.  Later, Yuri told her, that it would be good for her to return to Akadia once more, teach for one semester and that while there, for their own happiness, she needed to end their relationship.  Anya knew her father was right and she knew that once she returned to Akadia, she would have to end, their relationship.  So, after returning to Akadia, for three weeks she avoided seeing Wilhelm, she avoided his calls, not returning them, as she was trying to muster up her resolve to do what she knew, she had to do.

Wilhelm stood silent and emotionless, as Anya confessed all of this to him.

After she was done speaking, they both were silent for quite some time, not looking at one another.  Wilhelm felt a great weight in his chest and he could not speak over the painful lump in his throat.  So, he just took Anya’s hands and pulled her towards him. Anya however, resisted,

“Please, don’t,” she begged, barely getting out the words over her own lump.

She tried to suppress the trembling of her hands as he held them. She tried to pull them away, but Wilhelm held on to them.

“Anya, I love you,” he confessed pulling her towards him, overpowering her. 

Anya put out her hands to avoid the embrace he was struggling to complete. She was in shock, what was he doing, she tried harder to break away from him, but he overpowered her efforts, drawing her near. 

“Wilhelm, stop,” she yelled, feeling her strength weakening under his powerful grip.

She continued to resist him as he pulled her closer. Anya could bear it no longer, and began to cry, “Will, please stop this, you are hurting me,” she pleaded. 

Startled, Wilhelm immediately let her go and stepped back to give her space.

“Anya, I am sorry, please forgive me, I don’t know what I was doing, I’m sorry,” he begged. 

Anya stepped back to put more distance between them.  Breathing heavily, she tried to regain her composure.  Wilhelm buried his face in his hands, ashamed of his actions towards her.

“I am sorry Wilhelm, this is not easy for me, I do love you and, believe me, I want to be with you.”  Anya abruptly stopped, putting up her hands to halt Wilhelm’s approach.  He had been encouraged by her confession of love for him and he unconsciously began to approach her, stopping after she put up her hands.

“But,” she added with her hands still raised, “I’m afraid that if we continue in this way, we will only hurt each other.”

Wilhelm’s hope was growing, he had to find some way to convince her that her father was wrong.

“Anya, I could never hurt you,” he pleaded resisting his strong urge to walk over and hold her. 

Tears began to fill Anya’s eyes.  “Wilhelm, you already have,” She admitted, barely getting the words out.  “You have already hurt me,” she added, bringing a hand to her chest.

Confusion flooded Wilhelm’s mind, he stopped short of disagreeing with her and tried hard to recall any incident to his knowledge where he may have hurt her.  Seeing the tears overflowing down Anya’s face, pained him, he wanted to know what he had done and at the same time he feared to know.

“Wilhelm, do you love me,” Anya asked. 

“Anya, I am desperately in love with you,” he pleaded as if trying to convince her. 

“What will become of us,” Anya asked him.  “Will we always have to meet like this, in secret.  Why always in secret,” she asked, her frustration now coming through.

“Will we ever be able to walk down a hall, holding hands, expressing publicly our love for one another.  What will be the end of this,” she asked, her eyes pleading to know. 

Wilhelm, was not prepared for Anya's barrage of questions, he sensed the hurt in her words and he was speechless for a moment. He did not know how to answer her, he tried to think, but something was blocking the words he wanted to say, words he should say.  He began to feel a slight pain of pressure building in his head as he battled his mind for words.

“I don't know what you mean,” Wilhelm lied, it was all he could come up with. 

“Honestly”, she asked, surprised.  She looked away from him, 'I’m trying to explain to you, why we, can never, be together.  I’m Knomen, I’m a maggot in your people’s eyes, she said through her tears, pausing.  “And you are ashamed of me!”

Those words devastated Anya, it was her worst fear, she wanted Wilhelm to love her unconditionally, but that is not how she felt.  An unknow fear had been rising in her all along, a fear she tried desperately to banish.  But her father had revealed it and named it. All of the clandestine encounters, secret messages, disguises, what was he afraid of.  He said he loved her.  But who else knew of it. No one.

Wilhelm took Anya's hands before she could back away from him, “I’m not ashamed of you, I love you, more than you will ever know.”

Anya pulled away from him, “then why do we meet like this?” she asked with more frustration than she wanted to show.  “Why do we hide away like this?  Are you afraid someone will see us together?  Perhaps a friend, or your father? And would that be so wrong, if someone, anyone saw us together,” unable to speak through her sobs, she paused trying to gain her composure.

“Wilhelm, what is wrong with me?” she begged. 

Something clicked in Wilhelm's mind. Why did he maneuver these secret meetings? He had been seen in public with plenty of young women in the past, even if they were political favors for the families of his father’s associates. He was truly in love with Anya and yet no one knew about her. Was he, ashamed of her? As repulsive as the idea was for him, he lingered in the thought, as Anya watched him. Her questions exposed him, like he had been caught in a lie. Wilhelm felt her eyes on him like a spot light and he tried to answer, but he could not, he kept silent, sorting through his emotions. Shame filled his soul and burst out on his being and he could not look at Anya, unconsciously turning away from her gaze. “Am I ashamed?” he almost said out loud.

 "I am not ashamed of you Anya,” he finally replied, “my actions, my actions, might lend you to believe that I am, but that was surely not my intentions, please believe me, I am not ashamed of you, I love you.”

Wilhelm’s words, were of no comfort to her, she hid her face in her hands as her tears fell between her fingers.  Wilhelm groaned inwardly watching her, he approached her and held her as she sobbed.  "I Love you” he repeated as he held her. 

Gaining her composure, she stepped out of his embrace.  “Wilhelm,” she started to speak but was unable to continue.  Understanding now, how bad he had hurt her, crushed him, he literally felt the pain in his heart as he clutched his chest. 

"Anya, I’m sorry," he cried. 

"Don't you see now, why we must not see each other again. Wilhelm, what will become of us? she asked him. 

“Anya, I see myself only with you, always with you, I see now that I have taken that for granted. I want to be honest with you Anya, because I truly love you. It was not out of shame for you, that I maintained this secrecy.  It was out of fear.  It was my weakness, that held me back.  It was out of fear of what my father would say, what my friends would say? That was wrong, I know that now.” 

Wilhelm's words no longer reached Anya, she was enveloped by a thick fog of emotions, humiliation and shame.  “Why am I so hated?” she asked, “What is wrong with me?  I am a good person. What makes me so inferior.”

Anya’s greatest fear was rejection, she tried so hard to be an Akadian and it wasn’t enough. Her friends not only rejected her but they despised her.  Now, someone who claimed to love her, was ashamed of her, he didn’t want to be seen with her.  Did he also think of her as a maggot, if not her, what does he think of her people?

In the small dark places of her mind she always feared rejection, she feared that in an unguarded moment his true feelings would be revealed.  Was this it? Anya felt so worthless, she crumpled to the floor, crying without restraint.  Wilhelm stopped speaking, he was completely overcome in grief, witnessing Anya’s breakdown. Her cries and her need for air were in conflict and played upon her small frame, convulsing her body. Wilhelm knelt to the floor, “Anya, I am not ashamed of you, Anya, please, listen to me.  I am not ashamed of you!  

He reached for her, lifted her, and embraced her as she cried on his shoulder.  “Anya, please listen to me, I will make this right.  I promise you.” 

“You can't make this right,” Anya yelled, pushing him away.  “Don't you see.  My father was right.  We will never be accepted, Wilhelm.  And You know this, that, is why we are here. What were you going to do with me Wilhelm?  Did you think about me? The only way we can make this right, is to end this, for both our sakes.” 

“No!” Wilhelm screamed.  “Don't do this if you love me?” 

“I do, Wilhelm, I love you very much, it is why we have to do this.  I hope you love me enough, to let me go.” 

Wilhelm took her by the shoulders, “I will tell my father, right now,” Wilhelm assured her.  Not impressed, Anya took his hand,

“I hope you do, then, maybe that will help you see the truth. That this is the right thing to do.”

Anya turned to walk away and felt Wilhelm’s hand on her arm preventing her from doing so. 

“Wilhelm, no,” Anya pleaded, “let me go.”

“How can you do this if you love me,” He pleaded. 

Pained by his words, Anya turned toward him, she put her arms around him and gently kissed him. He embraced her, kissing her deeply as Anya released her resistance, matching his passion. They became lost in each other’s embrace and at that moment all was right.

Breaking away from him, Anya made for the door with Wilhelm following. 

“Goodbye Wilhelm,” she said reaching for the door.  Wilhelm grabbed her hand, not allowing her to leave.  Anya struggled with him as he begged her to wait.  She could not get the door open as the weight of him pressed her against the door.  She pleaded “Stop this, let me go Wilhelm.” But her words had no effect on him, he was so desperate not to let her go, feeling that if she left, he would never see her again.  He began to ramble about making it right and begging her not to leave him.  She gave up struggling with him as he held her, kissing her and mumbling incoherently.  Calmly she called his name, and her voice, his name, finally broke through his fog.  “Let me go, please,” she gently demanded. 

Coming to his senses, he released her, and as he did, she quickly opened the door and left, running down the hallway as students began filling it, and making space for her.  Wilhelm stood in the hallway, calling out to her, oblivious of all the people watching.

“I love you, Anya Yemen, I love you.”  His voice echoing down the hall.

Submitted: February 13, 2017

© Copyright 2021 James Washington. All rights reserved.


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