Sonarra Vodun Scene
“Eyes up. Face neutral. Grace does not show emotion.” Sonarra Vodun sat still, tall and straight, staring ahead. Hovering just over her shoulder, Lady Inara toyed with the sturdy reed in her hand. “If you are honestly what the Delronge consider to be a chosen diva, I may worry about the choices they have made. Sing.” Sonarra began to sing, her voice starting shaky. That was interrupted by a stinging slap with the reed, the base of her neck reddening as Inara spoke. “Grace is never afraid. You cannot sound shaky, you cannot sound uncertain. You are a house-chosen diva, you are a personification of Grace. Do not act like you are anything less.” Sonarra nodded, her hand reaching to briefly touch a bracelet that Corthos had given her – a polished silver, plain yet elegant, and she mouthed the words that she knew were inscribed within. ‘Never change who you are. Change the world around you.’ Lady Inara tapped her foot impatiently, and Sonarra released the bracelet, starting to sing again. This time, her voice was more confident, prouder. She was Sonarra Vodun. She was grace. A smile began to cross her face as she sang.
Three days later, she stood next to Lady Inara. Together, they looked out of the window of her teaching quarters, watching the people mill about in the Opera square. Inara spoke with a slow solemnity. “You cannot. Delronge does not will it. Those people….they must see you as something different than them. Something that is not held by the same paltry feelings and ideas. You are grace itself. Grace does not lower itself to marriage, to pregnancies and schoolgirl ideology. The oracles have told your investors two futures – one ends with fame and prosperity. The other….you wind up like your own mother, living in a home that belongs to your husband, caring for the children that derailed your career.” Sonarra watched out of the window, a distant sadness in her eyes. Inara held her hand out, waiting. Slowly, Sonarra set down the ring into her hand. With a pained effort, she added to it the bracelet, her fingers tracing along the lettering. A pair of tears fell from her eyes, running slowly down the side of her face as Inara wiped them away. “Hush, dear girl. Grace does not know pain. Grace does not feel heartbreak. You are above emotion." Sonarra did not respond, even as Inara stepped back. Even as Inara left the room, Sonarra stood still, her eyes watching out the window. She watched impassively as she saw Inara send the message boy, and only then – silently – did she allow herself to weep.
That night, she sat alone in her chamber long after Corthos had gone – his words still ringing in her ears, flat and yet startlingly painful, like the crack of a whip. She spoke to herself as she took out the pad of paper, her voice weak and choked with emotion. She was not grace. She was overcome by emotion, tossed about and dashed like a ship on the currents. “I was bought. Paid for and handed over. Because I needed it, Corthos….not because I wanted it.” She set the pen to the paper and wrote hesitantly.
’You have always been a man so focused, so secure in his ideology that nothing could shift you. A person that saw the world in black and white, freedom and toil. And I saved every letter you wrote. I kept them all, every word holding me and guiding me along. You wrote so eloquently, so openly, that I realized you were something I could never want to leave. When you were mine, the world itself seemed but a tiny step between us, and we could overcome anything. And yet…the world is not, and has never been, something that is only in black and white. While it may be that way to you, Corthos, not all of us come from noble blood. Not all of us have familys that can outlast any hardship. And you knew full well that I did not have the lands and territories and claims that your name gave you. All that I have is a talent that can be molded and shifted, and a house that believes that they can make it so. This is not a decision that I have come to for my benefit. This is not a decision that I have wanted. But you….you would not be satisfied as my husband. You would not be content to be the forgotten soul behind a diva, the soundless voice that exists in the backgrounds. I know you, Corthos. You would not have been happy to sit and wait, to raise children in quiet solitude, to struggle along because your family disapproved. It would never have been enough for you.
I don’t pretend to understand the challenge that you are facing, Corthos. You are a man who wants nothing more than he wants immortality. You want to leave a legacy, to exist beyond yourself – and you would not have done that in a quiet life. Corthos….please, never think that this was easy for me. But I cannot allow you to silence your voice to stand behind mine. You want a legacy, and I only want survival. Delronge will pay me and my family, they will restore lands and give benefits. I cannot expect you to understand. But please….do not hate me for what I needed to do. I can only hope that you will succeed at what you want.
Do not change yourself. Change the world around you.
I love you. Do not compromise yourself.
She wiped her eyes as she sealed the envelope, pressing the wax seal of the Delronge house. Minutes later, she watched the errand boy take off for the Tanessen house, her heart heavy and aching, her face neutral.
She was grace. She was above it all.