1st of the Hazel’s Frost, 2030 D.C.E
Socialist Dominances of Solstice — Solstice City
As part of the terms of her leave Madiha and any guests she desired (in her case, only one) had been afforded a temporary stay at a comfortable little apartment building in the central quarter, just around the People’s Peak. These apartments were for government workers who came and went on business. Generals were considered to be among those.
After successfully completing her shopping, Madiha returned to the apartment with her treasure in tow, only to find the door locked. It was a third floor apartment and all the hallways were enclosed. From the plain, utilitarian facade of the pillar-like building and its unadorned halls, nobody would have known it was anything special. It seemed unlikely to Madiha that security would be a concern in here. Much less for Parinita, who, despite her appearance, was a soldier, and must have trained in basic self-defense skills for it.
Still, Madiha took her key and unlocked the door with an audible click.
She turned the knob, opened the door, and found Parinita at the little couple’s tea table in the middle of the living room situated just off of the door. She blinked, staring with muted fascination at her lover’s rather sparse attire: an apron, a camisole and undergarments. Bright red pigment adorned her lips, and her wavy, strawberry hair she shook loose.
Parinita slid a slender finger over the rim of a wine glass, and made a sultry expression.
“You kept me in suspense there, Madiha.” She said, winking at her from the table.
Her lover cocked a little grin. “This is the scene where I coax you to temptation.”
Madiha blinked. “Well. I brought the groceries. Are we having dinner?” She stammered.
“Oh I’ll help you build an appetite.” Her lover said.
Parinita stood from the table, beckoning Madiha with a finger in the air.
She took a long-legged step forward, and then promptly tripped and fell.
“Parinita!” Madiha cried out.
From the floor, Parinita started laughing.
“I’m sorry Madiha, I tried but I just can’t do the sultry succubus act very well.”
“I’m sorry, I should have participated with greater enthusiasm.” Madiha replied.
“I hope you were turned on a little.” Parinita said.
Madiha did not want to admit exactly how turned on she had been.
After everyone had collected themselves, the night’s preparations began in earnest. Parinita dressed up a little more, in a vibrant skirt and sari, and together she and Madiha began to prepare dinner as they had planned. Though Madiha had made General, in Parinita’s kitchen she was a grunt. Dressed in the same apron that had barely covered her lover beforehand, Madiha chopped onions, smashed garlic, mixed dressings; meanwhile Parinita read recipes, measured spices, and passed ingredients down the bar for Madiha.
“Coconut milk!” Parinita ordered.
“Yes ma’am!” Madiha replied, pouring a small flask of coconut milk into a pot of curry.
“Salt and pepper!”
“Red pepper, to taste!”
Both of them started to laugh. Madiha rolled up lettuce wraps and spread out flatbread; Parinita stirred up sauces, squeezed lemon, and kept the recipes, her notepad a sacred book of lore. This small moment of domesticity, even with the military tinge conjured by Madiha’s mind, was characterized by a stunning peace and a sensational feeling of joy.
Madiha could not help but notice herself smiling, to realize how funny, how sweet the scene was. General Nakar, the Right Hand of Death, chopping tomatoes instead of heads. She looked fondly at her partner, who just a month ago had been an unrecognized paper pusher in a corrupt military administration. She recalled the moment their eyes met, and she thought, Parinita obviously had a fascination then, but Madiha had as well. Madiha had wanted to protect her. In that space, it was impossible to dream of all that this was.
But Madiha, some part of her, had desired that, and she was overjoyed to have it here.
A moment where these two soldiers were nothing more than a queer pair of women cooking like a couple in a loaned apartment building, ignoring the capital under siege.
Their small table in the living room could scarcely hold the plates. There was coconut milk curry with a drizzle of glistening oil and onions atop, and chickpea-lentil wraps, flatbread, a red and green salad dressed with yogurt, and fried, potato-filled bonda. Madiha was astounded at the amount and variety of food that had come out of their ingredients and preparations. Parinita bid her lover to pause for a small prayer before they began.
“Your aura is very peaceful! What an improvement!” Parinita then said.
She reached out a hand and touched Madiha’s forehead. Madiha did not feel the usual cooling, calming effect of Parinita’s “magic” touch on her, perhaps because she was not burning up from her power at the time. Madiha had hardly used her “abilities” in days. (Parinita desired she call them psionic or ESP abilities but Madiha resisted that still.)
“I’ve had time to calm down.” Madiha said.
She took a spoonful of curry and tasted it. It was spicy and rich with a hint of sweetness.
“How is it?”
“Hah! Of course it is!”
Parinita crossed her arms and puffed herself up a little with pride. Madiha laughed.
“Just like all the great feast scenes of cinema.”
“Are there that many?” Madiha asked.
“Well, maybe not feast scenes, but you see characters eating in almost every movie. They have expert chefs to make the edible food, and they use artists to make prop food for the backgrounds of restaurants. You just have to have a food scene in a movie nowadays.”
Madiha nodded. “True. Food does tend to play an important role in films.”
“Yes! Food is often symbolic of the times the characters live in. In a movie our table would symbolize the domestic bliss we feel right now.” Parinita enthusiastically said.
“It is definitely an improvement from eating lentils out of a bag in the office.”
Parinita chuckled. “You’d like them better if you used the spice pack.”
“You get a spice pack in maybe a quarter of the bags these days, unfortunately.”
“I guess that’s also symbolic of something.” Parinita sighed.
“It’ll get better.”
It had to.
After the meal, Madiha and Parinita cleaned up together and returned to the living room. There was a television in the room, a rarity that often had to be shared communally if it existed in a community at all. They turned on the box and sat on the couch together, side by side and holding hands. Like a radio, the television had different frequencies–
“–they’re called ‘channels’.” Parinita said.
–and this particular television had four. One was a broadcast test from the University of Solstice, and the camera was pointed at large, intricate mobiles and dioramas, sometimes with music in the background. Another was the official state channel, currently showing broadcasts of Daksha Kansal’s speeches and public appearances the past month.
Then there was the educational channel, which was shown to schools. Wherever the local teacher’s union approved of the program, one television was furnished to a school to watch this channel. Because it was late and kids were back home, it was showing a political program about the Svechthan Revolution instead of any children’s programming.
Finally there was a channel for the promotion of the arts and music, which was presently broadcasting a theater performance from Solstice. Madiha recognized the performance.
“It’s Alawian Nights. I’ve heard this song before. Marik is opening the door.” Madiha said.
“I’ve only seen the film version.” Parinita replied. “Ohh, I love the dancing.”
“They’re very precise. We should train our soldiers to move like that.” Madiha said.
“You’re always looking out for the army.” Parinita sighed fondly.
She laid her head down on Madiha’s chest, and wiggled around on top of her, laughing.
Madiha laid a hand on her head and stroked her hair, smiling.
“I love you, Madiha.” Parinita said.
“I love you too.” Madiha replied.
They had met on the 18th of the Aster’s Gloom. On the day of the invasion. Madiha had been inspecting a delinquent military headquarters when the two of them were thrust into each other’s paths. Through violence and hardship, the two of them forged a bond closer than they had ever felt with another, and faster than either would have ever dreamed.
It was strange. There was no denying that it was strange. But it was love; it was true love.
They needed each other. And though Madiha had many reasons to be attracted to Parinita, physically, spiritually; what she thought about the most was how much she loved just being around her now. Just having her there. She wanted them to be able to sit down like this, and talk about any old thing, but with minds totally unclouded, bodies unharmed. Without a looming threat on the horizon. She wanted to sit down with Parinita and watch the television and hold hands and kiss and know that there would be years more of this.
“Someday, Madiha, there’ll be films on Television. You’ll be able to watch them whenever you want and the film theaters will be for big parties or for communal viewings.”
Parinita smiled, and she laid further down on Madiha’s lap.
Madiha looked down at her, and they locked eyes.
She leaned down and kissed Parinita, their lips entwining.
When they parted, Parinita reached up to stroke Madiha’s cheek.
“Someday, Madiha, I want to make a film, and you’ll be the hero.” Parinita said.
“Yes! I don’t want it to be just a hobby. I want to use what I know and make a great film.”
“I’m sure you will.”
“And you’ll be the hero! You’ve got a great face and body. You’re perfect for it.”
Madiha thought about the future. What did she want to do? Had everything been perfect, had Nocht never attacked, had Communism been fully built, had the world not been hostile, what did Madiha want to do? She had always thought of war. She was still thinking about war. She had her book to write, her theories. She had this war to fight; to win.
“I’d love to be the hero.” Madiha said.
For now, it was fun and calming to indulge this fantasy.
What she wanted to say, to preface things, was that, she was going to keep fighting. She had resolved to keep fighting until Nocht was destroyed. They could not exist together in the same world. It was proven by the 18th of the Aster’s Gloom, and it was theorized by Lena Ulyanova herself. The Imperialists would not allow them to exist in peace. Capitalism and Socialism could not coexist in the globe. There would be war as long as Nocht stood.
But she did not say it. On some fashion both of them knew it, they had to know it. They would keep fighting, side by side. They could not have peace until they won this war.
Both of them knew this, but they needed futures. They needed to fight for themselves too.
What Madiha managed to say was far better said without preface, without varnish.
She took Parinita’s hand after softly cooing her name. She kissed her again.
“Will you marry me?”