Ava’s Backstory

Ava, the youngest daughter of Adam and Aurora, perched on the end of a branch high above Paradise and sang happily. She had arranged her brown, waist-length hair to cover her body and was pretending to be a bird with hair, not feathers. To complete the illusion, she had carefully pulled her arms beneath her hair and used them to hug her knees tightly to her chest, so only her lean, oval face was visible. Her bare feet were the sole part of her that made contact with the rough bark of the branch. Ava maintained her balance effortlessly, as her brown eyes vigilantly swept the distant landscape of the Garden of Eden below her.

Ava was centuries old and perpetually young. She had the same innocence and joy that every member of her family possessed, and the same brilliant mind. Her only problem, as she saw it, was that as the youngest of her eleven brothers and sisters, she was still treated like a baby. Her family acknowledged her superior performing skills and her verbal abilities, but she had never been able to beat her entire family in the physical games they played. Ava was fiercely competitive. Over the centuries, her obsession to excel at everything had become an affectionate joke among them. Ava was determined that today would be the day she would win her first tracking game and put an end to the jokes. She blushed to think how proud everyone would be of her, especially Seth, as they realized she was no longer a baby, but an equal member of the group. Only the praise of the Creator, who walked among them sometimes, meant more to her than the respect of her family.

Ava was well schooled in the two rules of Eden. The first was not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Even Ava recognized the desperation in Adam’s voice when he exhorted them never to eat the fruit of that tree. Ava had considered hiding in its branches, but if her trail led the best tracker among them to the center of the Garden, she would surely be discovered, because that tree stood alone. It was a solitary reminder of one mysterious tragedy.

The second rule was not to cross the Wall that separated their homeland from whatever lay beyond it. Almost three hundred years ago, when Ava was still a child of five, she had seen the Wall for the first time. She remembered it perfectly, because in Paradisia there were never any breakdowns of the pathways of the neurons in the brain.

Ava stopped singing as she recalled every detail of that day. Her mother, Aurora, had thought of a way they could harness water for power. The family was engaged in the last stage of her project, which involved attaching the wooden paddles that would be turned by the river. Aurora was enthusiastic about the project and did not have time to entertain Ava. There was no way a five-year-old could contribute to this stage of the process. Everyone in the family was engaged in Aurora’s project except for Adam, but he would not play with his daughter because he was deep in thought. Ava was lying on her stomach in the hot sun watching some ants on the ground as they worked on a project of their own. She glanced up and saw her father walk away.

She got up and followed him stealthily, making a game of it. They traveled for hours until Adam reached the great Wall. Adam stood facing the Wall and placed his hands against it. His shoulders began to shake and a strange noise emanated from him. Ava was overwhelmed by curiosity and approached him.

“Father, what are you doing?” Ava asked.

Adam turned to her. Ava was surprised to see that his face had water on it. She looked up to the sky to see if it had begun to rain and she hadn’t felt any droplets yet.

“Ava! What are you doing here?”

Ava examined her father’s face more closely.

“Everyone is busy and I wanted to play,” she said. “I followed you because it was fun. What is the water that runs from your eyes?”

“I don’t have a name for it. It only happens here, at the Wall,” Adam said. He challenged her. “Here, Ava, stand at the Wall and see if water flows from your eyes.” Adam resumed his stance and Ava imitated him.

“No, Father, it does not happen to me,” she reported. “Perhaps it only comes with great age and great wisdom. You are the oldest one of us, right?”

“A wonderful hypothesis, young one!” he said with a laugh. “Yes, I am the oldest, and you are the youngest. Someday you will be able to test your theory.”

“When, Papa? When will I be as old as you are and have the water flow from my eyes?”

“I will not tell you how very old I am!” Adam said. “Your mother is a baby compared to me. I will not have her fuss over me as she did over Seth when he had the accident on the mountain and broke half the bones in his body. How old I am will remain my secret!”

Adam took her hand in his, and they walked back to the work site together.

As Ava thought about that day, she remembered the happiness she felt at having the companionship of her father all to herself. He loved to carve wood, and he always smelled of wood dust, and pleasant scents of pine and cedar. They had taken turns talking. Adam had told her it refreshed him to hear her speak of the wonders of the world as she saw them through her young eyes, and he had patiently answered her many questions, especially her favorite one: “Why?”

That day had led indirectly to this one. Every few years she returned to the Wall to test her theory. Though she imitated Adam precisely, her eyes never watered the way his had done when he touched the Wall. It was on one of her pilgrimages that she had the brilliant idea of hiding in the branches of the tree that she was perched in now. It grew outside of the Wall, but its branches breached her homeland. She believed she was the first in the family to think of this hiding place, and they would never know that she traveled to it by climbing a Garden tree and swinging from limb to limb, like a monkey, across the trees until she reached the branches of the not-Eden tree.

Abruptly, Ava put her hands on the bark and leaned forward. The branch drooped slightly as she shifted her weight. She watched a tiny figure in the distance cross a stream where she had been early this morning. She had never thought to hide where she could observe the others tracking her. She had never realized how good they were at following the signs of her path. Ava lost sight of her pursuer, a speck on the landscape, as he or she followed the trail Ava had inadvertently left into a valley.

Ava was worried. The game would end when the sun kissed the horizon. Someone was closing in on her, but she might still win if sunset came before she was found. Her hiding place was daring. A small hope kept her quiet and still.

She heard a rustling in the tree behind her. Ava looked back toward not-Eden. On the same branch that she sat on, but much closer to the trunk of the tree, was a creature she had never seen before. It was long, dark, and tube-like. It had no legs that she could see from her position, but it moved in an unusual side-to-side motion on the wide limb. Ava could think of nothing but the novelty of the strange beast. Long ago, her father had named all the creatures of the earth. Ava wondered what he would call this one. How amazed he would be that she had found a new species! She forgot about the tracking game.

Enthralled, Ava held her breath. She sat motionless and willed the creature to come closer. It inched cautiously toward her but stopped abruptly, as if there was an invisible barrier between them. For a moment, the black eyes of the creature, eyes set on top of a triangular head, looked directly into hers. Its tongue flicked in and out of its mouth. It did not speak, but made a hissing sound and dropped its head out of sight into the foliage below. The length of it followed in a slithery motion. Captivated by the strange movement and bursting with curiosity, Adam’s youngest daughter turned and followed. She crossed the boundary between Eden and the rest of the world with a vague feeling that she had forgotten something important.

The creature moved much faster than she expected. She was not able to keep it in sight once her feet hit the earth outside the Garden. She searched, hoping to find it, or at least find some clues about its habits so that she could tell her family about her adventure. She was disappointed that she could not find anything. Ava noticed the sun was almost at the horizon. She remembered the game and was consoled to know that she had not been found.

With an unerring sense of direction, she began her return trip to the Garden. When she was close enough to see the Wall, she saw a figure standing near it. Anxious to be back with the people she loved, she ran.

She recognized a familiar form, the one Michael the Archangel most often took, and felt relief. A few paces closer she could see the expression on his face. Ava slowed. Michael did not look happy. She recalled how her father looked that way sometimes. He would never explain his expression, no matter how much her mother, Aurora, begged him to tell her what troubled him.

She stopped, uncertain of her reception. She had disobeyed. The Master taught them to love cause and effect, to learn from it, and to embrace it. But she hadn’t meant any harm, and there was nothing here that wasn’t in Eden except for the creature. She shuddered for a reason she could not understand. Surely, she would go back to the Garden to face her consequence.

Michael had not shown any sign that he had seen her. He stood, as if on guard, with the inexplicable look on his face. Ava changed her course to pass by him. She hid behind foliage and trees, and made her way sideways, always keeping the top of the Wall in sight. Whenever she peered out, no matter how much progress she made, Michael was there at the Wall directly ahead of her. It was as if he was guarding Paradise from her.

It was a preposterous thought! She had every right to go home. She belonged to the Master, heart and soul; and besides, how would the family get on without her? It would break their hearts, especially her mother’s. Aurora reviewed the two rules of the Garden with her children frequently. Her father would get those sad moods more often. She was certain of it. Recalling her father’s dark moods took on an ominous portent. As if he could read her thoughts, Michael, who had not seemed to notice her, called her name.

Ava left her hiding place and went forward, trembling. Michael’s look softened. She spoke before he could.

“Michael, I was playing the tracking game. I didn’t mean to go over the Wall. I only wanted to hide in the branch of a tree that breached our garden. I saw a creature I’d never seen before. Without thinking, I followed it. I’d like to go home now, even if I’m disqualified from the game. I’ll accept whatever punishment the Master has for me. I’m sorry, Michael, truly sorry.”

“I am sorry, too,” Michael said. “To disobey our Master and leave the Garden of Eden is to leave forever.”

The enormity of what she had done hit her. In response to an unfamiliar pain in her heart, water leaked from her eyes. She made the connection instantly.

“No, Michael, no! Oh, I am not the only one to break a rule of Paradise, am I?” she asked.

“No, precious one,” he answered gently. “You are not the first. Because you are not, you won’t have to live in the land outside the Garden alone. You have relatives there, less than a thousand-day walking distance from the Garden.”

As surprising as this revelation was, Ava was not interested in leaving her family. She had an idea.

“Michael, what if I wrestle you to get back into the Garden? If I win, I get to return to my home; if I lose, I will accept banishment.”

She smiled innocently as she said the words. She was the second best fighter of her father’s children, having six brothers and five sisters to out-maneuver to get her way. She was shocked by Michael’s reaction.

He seemed to gain size, and his look of pity was replaced by anger, which frightened her. Fear was new to her. She took several steps away from Michael, but stood her ground as he spoke.

“If you try to return to the Garden, I have been commanded to use the power the Almighty has given me to kill you.”

“Kill? What is kill?” she asked.

“To kill is to bring death. Death is what comes to the leaves in the fall, to the flowers after they bloom, to fire when it has burned its last ember. You would not draw breath, or have thoughts, feelings, or movement. Your body would lay still and cold, uninhabited. Death comes to humans this side of the Garden, while it cannot touch your family in Eden.”

“Michael, I do not wish to die. Will this death come to me?” Ava trembled.

He still looked fierce.

“I do not know. It is not for me to determine. This moment you are immortal. You did not intend to break the rule when you followed the serpent. Your error was carelessness. Our Master has not ordered your death or appeared to you Himself to deliver your punishment as He did to the other one. I believe there is hope for you.

“Whether you will remain immortal when you are faced with the temptations of this land, I cannot say. You do not have the advantage of your stepbrothers and stepsisters who possess knowledge of good and evil. However, you know the Master well. If you choose to act as He would act, and live as He has taught you to, someday you will be reunited with your family.

“If you oppose the will of the Master on purpose, you will surely, eventually, face death. For now, I have been ordered to keep you out of the Garden. I will obey our Creator, even if I must kill you, though I love you.”

Michael smiled at Ava.

“My advice to you, dear one,” he said gently, “is to travel to where your stepsiblings dwell so that you will not be here alone, pining with misery just outside the Wall. Life is a gift; gather from it what joy you can.”

“Joy?” asked Ava incredulously. “I have just lost everything I know, everything that I love. How can you speak to me of joy? I will go because I must. I do not wish to pine at the Wall, and I do not wish this death. I will try to serve the Master well so that I can return someday.”

“You have the Almighty’s permission to ask me three questions about life on this side of the Wall. Choose your questions wisely.”

Ava thought carefully. Questions came to her easily, but she wasn’t sure which three she should choose. Her mind raced, and then she made her decision. “These are the three questions I would like for you to answer, Michael: Where did these relatives come from, what should I fear most, and will I meet the Master there?”

Michael nodded, pleased with her choices. “I will answer your questions, and as I do so, we will walk. Soon, the signs you left behind as you marked your trail will lead Seth and the others to the Wall. Since I do not want any more residents to leave Eden, I will remove the temptation for you to call to them.”

“And if I refuse to walk with you?”

Michael looked stern again. “Child of Adam and Aurora, search your heart. Do you wish any of your loved ones to share your fate?”

Ava made her decision instantly. As her answer, she turned and quickly walked away from the Wall.

“What of my family?” she asked the empty air around her. “To not know what has happened to me will grieve them. They will come looking for me here when they do not find me in the Garden.”

Michael appeared at her side, as she had known he would.

“The Master will give them the news. They must accept it, or go into exile.”

She paled.

“Michael, can you take them a message from me?”

“Give me the message, and I will ask the Almighty.”

“Tell them I am sorry. Tell them not to come after me. Tell them instead to petition the Master to help me to obey Him. Assure them I will do everything in my power to serve the Master on this side faithfully so that I may rejoin them someday.”

He nodded.

“It will be permitted. Now I will answer your three questions. After that, you must travel on, alone.”

They walked together, and Michael talked until the sun was three-quarters past the horizon.

“Ava, I must leave you now,” said Michael. “The Almighty is with your family at present, and has summoned me to His side.”

Michael disappeared, but his voice continued.

“Follow the star your father named Aviva, and you will find your stepsiblings. I wish you a good journey and a happy life.”

“Will I ever see you again?” she whispered the words.

“You will see me if the Master wills it.” Michael’s disembodied voice sounded in her head.

Ava realized that if she had been in Eden, the Archangel’s words would have been an answer. The Master’s will was always known in the Garden. In this new place, she could not say for certain what the Creator’s will was.

Ava began her thousand-day journey. Though she could not see Aviva, she knew where it hung in the horizon, washed out by the dwindling light of the sun. What had begun as another of a series of endless days of beauty, purpose, and belonging had ended in separation, uncertainty, and exile.

Harvest Festival

Harvest Festival begins its first day in the Livestock Sector and animals are the focus of the entertainment. It is the most child-friendly day of the festival. There are attractions for the children like petting pens, pony rides, and pig races. Women can horseback ride, shop for household pets, or buy cows and goats for milk, or chickens for eggs. There are culinary delights such as yogurt dishes and specialty cheeses that the Livestock sector excels in. The first day tends to end early so mothers can get their tired-out little ones to bed.

The second day of the Festival takes place in the Agriculture Sector and the theme is advancements in medicine. There are new health products to try, spa treatments to take advantage of, and healthful meditations. Wine, used for medicinal purposes of course, flows freely and women leave this Festival day feeling refreshed and energized and motivated to pursue new health goals.

On the third day of the Festival women return to the Livestock sector one of the most looked forward to days of the week–fashion day. There are booths set up everywhere with clothing, shoes, and fashion accessories for sale. There are fashion shows where designers showcase the newest and best of clothing appropriate to wear in each of the six sectors.

The fourth day belongs to the Soldier sector. There are displays of physical prowess of the Queendoms soldiers, contests of strength and agility. There are mock battles as well as real fighting matches.

Fifth festival day takes place in the Agriculture sector and features all things food. Tables are laden with goods for sale from the harvest, as well as baked goods and other culinary specialties such as sauces and jams. There are spectacular floral arrangements.

The sixth day is hosted by the Government sector. A new theme is chosen each year by the Government festival committee and is a surprise to the citizens. The Government sector treats their day like a party, but with some type of government agenda or public service message that they feel will help the city run better.

The seventh day is hosted by the Religion sector. One theme is thanksgiving to the goddesses for another year of prosperity for the Queendom. With a goddess for every ache, desire, or need of the women, every woman can find at least service to attend that she will enjoy. Another theme is supplications to the goddesses for pregnancies. The Harvest Festival culminates in the procession to the Quickening Chambers so the first group of young women chosen by the Quickening committee may begin their duty to hopefully become blessed mothers of daughters.

Photo of the child with bunny by Anastasiya Gepp from Pexels

Women’s Work in Evlantis

The Queendom, ruled by women for women, elevates the relationship between mother and daughter above all others. Motherhood is recognized as the single greatest and most valuable occupation a woman can have. Any woman who bears a daughter is supported by the state until the daughter reaches the age of sector choosing. 

Once a daughter comes of age, every woman below a royal level must do some type of work to live comfortably in the city. Though a food allotment is given to the poorest of citizens, most women choose to engage in meaningful activity that produces a means to provide not only for food and upkeep on their homes, but for more extravagant needs: elegant clothing, a night out at the theater, or gossip parlor subscriptions. Of course, women who are barren, or not chosen to bear a child (or worse…give birth to sons) are never supported by the state and work their entire adult lives in some occupation that serves the city.

While heavy labor in the Queendom is done by slaves (mankind) there are many occupations they are prohibited from, leaving many acceptable work opportunities for non-royal women of Evlantis. There are sector specific jobs: committee members, farmers, physicians, teachers, priestesses, artisans, herders, clothiers, and soldiers. Then there are trades any woman in Evlantis may choose to work in, such as:

Owning or working for a Gossip Parlor or Gossip Paper

Serving a Royal at a Palace

Owning or working at a stall in the Queendom’s marketplace

Any job in the entertainment business (acting, writing, music, comedy, etc.)

Working in a Queendom theater in any capacity

Some work is held in higher esteem than others, even among the common citizens women recognize a type of pecking order. Teachers are held in the highest esteem, while any job serving a Royal at their residence is the lowest status job. Being a maid servant is one step higher, though a very significant one, than being a slave. 


Travel Ban of Evlantis

The Queendom of Evlantis is surrounded by a huge wall, not to keep threats out, but to keep its six-thousand citizens in. Soldiers stand guard on the wall facing the city. Early in women’s herstory they were nomadic. Some women of Evlantis still shudder at the mention of those days. The Queendom-the city ruled by women for women-is everything their foremother’s dreamed of. No one goes hungry, every woman has a roof over her head, and all children are safe from harm. Every woman is needed for the city’s continued success. It is taboo in the city to express a desire to explore the world. Beyond the lands the city uses is a forest which is regarded by most with fear.

There are many women whose work takes them outside the city walls. Some sectors have guarded gates to the lands outside the city proper. The Agriculture sector has many gates so farm women and doctors can access their crops on the lands east of the city. The Livestock sector also has multiple gates so they can tend to the animals in their care on pasture lands to the west of the city. Soldiers have training fields and the hot springs outside their section of the wall. The Arts sector has a gate for those whose craft requires inspiration or supplies from nature. 

The Religion sector has the most ornate gate. They tend a path that leads to the top of Mount Great Mother. Religious excursions to the mountaintop takes days and attracts the most devout followers of the goddesses as well as women who secretly wish to see more of the world.

Every gate is guarded, and it is one of the duties of the Soldier sector to make sure all who leave through a gate returns. On the rare occasion that someone is missing, specially trained tracking soldiers go and find them.

Though access to the lands outside the city walls is limited and monitored, the women of Evlantis may travel freely throughout the city. None of the six sectors ban other residents from their property.  

Celebrations in the Queendom

The Queendom of Evlantis is made up of six clique-like sectors, each has its own government and customs. What each woman celebrates depends on both which sector she was raised in and the sector she is assigned to live in. 

The Harvest Festival is the one celebration that is a city-wide event. Originally it was a religious event to thank the goddesses for the fall harvest. Over the centuries it evolved into a celebration where each sector tries to outdo the next with displays and amusements.

Harvest Festival takes place in the fall, and each sector hosts at least one day of the event. Officially the celebration lasts eight days and culminates in the first Quickening assignments of the season. Unofficially it is nine days with a celebration in the Arts sector before the official celebration begins. Women gather to party and sate their baser appetites before the more wholesome, family-oriented fun of the rest of the week begins. The first unofficial day in the Arts Sector culminates late in the evening in an almost taboo tradition…the Fanny Dance, where women who are so inclined gather in the Amphitheater of the Arts to watch men strip for entertainment.

While there are other celebrations that all women agree are important, such as Birthdays, the sectors disagree about the best way to celebrate them. Since the primary relationship in Evlantis is the one between mother’s and their daughters, Mother’s Day and Daughter’s Day are two celebrations that are held on the same day in the Queendom, but celebrated in different ways in each sector. It is up to each sector whether true outsiders (those who were neither born there or current citizens) may attend. For example, only Soldiers may attend and compete for the coveted Best Athlete award, but all citizens are invited to the Agriculture’s Summer Solstice Revelry.

Then there are dozens of celebrations that are unique to each sector. A few examples are listed below:

Government sector: Constitution Day, Queen for a Day, Mother of the Year.

Agriculture sector: Spring First Planting Celebration, Summer Solstice Revelry, Spa Day.

Religion sector: Mother Eve’s Day, Goddess of Life Feast Day, and the Land of the Dead Celebration Day. 

Arts sector: Day of Wine and Song, Day of Song and Dance, Celebration of the Goddess of the Muse.

Livestock sector: Best of Show Livestock competition, Symposium for Fashion Invention, Spring Celebration of Life.

Soldier sector: Day to Honor Soldiers of Herstory, Best Athlete competition, Goddess Marsa Celebration.

Medicine in Evlantis

In the women’s world medical treatment is based on the naturopathic model. Women that become physicians must be citizens of the Agriculture sector and have years of training before they can begin treating patients.

There are centuries worth of documentation for the physicians of Evlantis to use to treat and cure all types of ailments. Physical symptoms of illnesses are treated with herbal remedies or food known to contain health benefits. Physicians prescriptions for treatment may also include massage therapy, hot springs treatments, music for either relaxation or stimulation, counseling, and various forms of exercise including dance, yoga, and strength training. Women who become physicians must be compassionate and wise, and able to motivate their patients to engage in the treatments they prescribe.

When illness strikes the Queendom, quarantine is used to minimize exposure to the disease. Physicians work round the clock to find remedies to minimize symptoms and maximize the body’s ability to fight the disease. Every experimental treatment and its results are added to the volumes of documentation for future generations of physicians.

Surgery is not used often due to high mortality rates. Instead of surgery, women who are diagnosed with terminal illnesses receive pain management care so they may enter the land of the dead as comfortably and huwomanly cared for as possible.

The only exception to the no-surgery rule is The Taking, which involves surgically removing an infant from a mother’s womb to save its life. Any mother whose pregnancy goes awry has the right to choose The Taking so that her child may live. Most mothers in that life and death situation choose to give their child a chance at life. Until very late in the Herstory of Evlantis, The Taking always resulted in death for the mother.

The Fringe

Photo by Zun Zun from Pexels

The High Queen of Evlantis, who presides over the city’s highest court, must assign punishments to those found guilty of crimes. Punishments range from fines to a death sentence, depending on the crime and the temperament of the High Queen.

One punishment that is considered very serious is re-assignment from a city sector to a place called the Fringe. The Fringe is a residential area that borders the outskirts of the Agriculture sector’s farmlands. The criminals sentenced in the Fringe serve two purposes. They provide free labor in the fields and they guard the perimeter to keep field hand slaves from escaping.

The women who live in the Fringe have no rights. They are banned from voting and bearing children. Their quality of life is dependent on the generosity of the High Queen. Under High Queen Rachel’s rule life in the Fringe was as pleasant as it could be under the circumstances. When her lack of oversight of the Fringe was questioned by her opponents in government, Rachel would insist that being banished from the city limits to do forced labor was punishment enough, she would not see the women deprived of basic comforts.

Music of Evlantis

All the sectors of the Queendom have musicians. Musicians are held in high esteem and concerts are held regularly in all kinds of venues: theaters, Gossip Parlors, and private homes of those with high status are a few of the most common. During the summer there are musical performances outdoors in each sector’s market place. Evlantians have all types of stringed instruments, wind instruments, drums, gongs and other percussion instruments.

Not only is music entertainment, but it is also an important and necessary part of the birthing process. It would be unthinkable to give birth without at least one musician or singer present to perform birthing songs during the delivery.

Each sector tends to specialize in a style of music, though every musician dabbles in all musical styles. The musical speciality of the Government sector is similar to our classical music. Their most popular songs are ballads celebrating the lives of women who have bettered Evlantis over its Herstory set to orchestral arrangements. Some have even been turned into popular musicals performed at theaters.

The Agriculture sector’s music is similar to our “new age” style music. It’s most popular song’s lyrics celebrate growth. It is neither easy to perform, nor to sing, but it captures the mystery and imagination in a way that no other sector’s music does. It frequently incorporates sounds of nature into its songs like bird calls, the sound of the ocean waves, or wind rushing through leaves.

The Religion sector’s style of music is soulful. It expresses the struggles that women face, and lyrics tend to be supplications to the goddesses to grant mothers and their daughters long and happy lives.

The Arts sector’s music is akin to our rock and roll. The Arts sector residents are the rebels of the Queendom and express it through music that awakens the senses, makes toes tap and bodies sway with abandonment. Its lyrics are sometimes bawdy, sometimes deep, and sometimes playful.

The music of the Livestock sector is extremely popular. It mixes upbeat music with lyrics that have repeating choruses that are catchy. Their lyrics typically celebrate life and the love between mothers and daughters.

The Soldier sector specializes in acapella sing-song chants. The origin of their music was based in marching trail chants from their nomadic period. Soldier sector music is derived from the one of the earliest forms of music in the woman’s world.

Photo by Evelyn from Pexels

Scholars teach that the earliest form of music was the lullaby. The number of lullabies in the woman’s world has never been catalogued, though some have tried. Singing a child to sleep is regarded as an art form and a sacred duty. Even women who  do not have children must be ready, at a moment’s notice, to help a mother with a sleepy child send their baby to dreamland with a song.

Letters to Harmonia, “response to Looking Out for Two”

Dear Harmonia,

photo from pixabay

I was blessed by the Goddess  Ephrea, the life giver, with twin daughters who are still very young. Well, everyone knows how rare it is to have twin daughters, and that two daughters are double the work of one! It’s a great responsibility to bring up girls that are a credit to our glorious Queendom. I am honored that the goddesses entrusted me with twins.

However, due to the findings of the last census, I’ve received a letter saying that my mother, who lives in a different sector than I do, must move into my household!

Harmonia, this is not fair! I know plenty of mothers who only have one daughter. Why can’t they be chosen to host their mother so that the correct amount of citizens can be housed in her sector? I understand the importance of the census, but why me? My hands are full and my mother is aged and needs almost as much care as my daughters do! Her neighbors are more than happy to look after her. Think of my poor mother! She will certainly be homesick if there is no way to forestall this reassignment!

And, most of all, think of my two daughters! How disrupted their lives will be! It isn’t fair to them, not at all. Tell me there is a way to stop this from happening, please, O wise Harmonia!

Looking Out for Two

Dear Looking Out,

Instead of Looking Out you should first Look Back, and then Look Forward.

You must look back to see that Evlantis was founded by Great Mother Eve and every law that has been passed, or stricken, from the record since then has been lovingly guided by the goddesses and the wisest of women. The committee that evalutates census results takes all factors into consideration before making its decisions on how to disperse our population so as best to serve the State. These are not haphazard or random assignmnents, but based on law, wisdom, and learning. Since Ephrea chose to bless you with two daughters, I must conclude she has blessed you with the wisdom to discern this truth, now that I have plainly laid it out for you! You must be a good daughter of the city and embrace your life-giving mother’s inclusion into your household with joy!

You must also Look Forward and see the profound message you are passing on to your double blessings. In the caring for your mother you are teaching them, by your own example, one of our most sacred precepts; that each woman’s life is holy. The burdens that come with a mother’s aging fall upon the daughter to bear. It is an honor that your mother has lived long enough to need your care.  Not to mention that your daughters will have the privilege of living with their Grandmother! Not many girls have that honor! Your worries about your mother being homesick are unfounded. You forget the old adage, “Home is where your family is.”

Beware, Looking Out, that the person you are really looking out for is yourself. Self-sacrifice is the highest calling of mothers. There is a special place in the afterlife that is only spoken of in shadows and whispers for the Daughter of Eve that abandons her duty to her mother.

Heed my words, young mother. There is still time for you to accept the wise assignment of the census committee with the proper attitude of  joy. There is no question that the decision can not, and should not, be changed.

Looking out for both your daughters and your mother,

Harmonia

P.S. Just in case my argument was not strong enough, having your mother join your household will increase your status. You may be eligible for better housing and more privileges. Please look into those possibilities. It may make your “burdens” easier to bear.

Theater in Evlantis

The Queendom of Evlantis has a thriving theater scene. The women’s world has volumes of plays and musicals which were handed down throughout Herstory. New material is always being written. Talented writers and actresses are held in high esteem. Every sector except the Soldier sector has its own community theater groups which put on productions in small venues. They also run soap-opera type shows during the day. Auditions attract women from all the sectors, but if a leading role goes to an actress from the Arts sector, then the success of the production is guaranteed.

The biggest and best of all the theaters in Evlantis is the Amphitheater of the Arts. The brightest stars perform there. The costumes are lavish, and a full time staff is employed to create them, and to keep them clean and well maintained. A variety of entertainment takes place at this venue: classic plays, new works, concerts and even titillating Fanny Dances, where men entertained crowds of women by dancing and removing most of their clothing. 

The glory days of the theater were, without a doubt, the years that a slave, Octovin, was allowed to oversee the productions. When he was a young man he was assigned to do heavy work in the theater. He was respectful and charming and soon became a favorite among the crew and actresses. Few women liked to work with the Fanny Dancers, and Herstory records that Octovin offered to take over the task and turned a barely attended pre-festival event into one of the most looked-forward to shows all year. While it wouldn’t be at all acceptable to admit it, many law-abiding citizens not eligible for quickening duty left the Fanny Dances Octovin produced wishing for one last tumble in a chamber. 

While Octovin would always be known as the Fanny Dance Master, behind the scenes he became consulted more and more. He had a flair for the dramatic. Productions in which he was heavily involved did well. Though a slave, he managed to create a comfortable life for himself. On his word, actresses rose and fell in fame. By the time he was in his forties he was, in all but name, running the Amphitheater of the Arts.

One of the Queendom’s most beloved stars, Sepheera of the Arts, was one of Octovin’s protégés. The bond between them was so close that Sepheera allowed Octovin to tend to her daughter, Sephora, who in turn, allowed Octovin to tend to her children. There is speculation among citizens about whether Sephora rose to the station of Low Queen of the Arts Sector with Octovin’s counsel, or whether he maintained his standing at the Amphitheater of the Arts because of Sephora.