She was gone by the time my feet touched the ground.
I thought she would be waiting by the trees, but she wasn’t. The amount of nanye she had consumed would have put nearly anyone to sleep. Only a true addict could have taken so much and still moved so quickly.
She called to me from the beach. I broke through the trees and ran towards the sound of her voice. My sandals tripped me up in the sand so I carried them by hand. When I reached the edge of the ocean, I found Lemanja’s camisole and skirt spread out on the sands. She called to me, this time from the sea. I threw my clothes aside and dove into the Salterio’s warm waters.
Lemanja mocked me from the darkness as I swam in search of her. Every time I thought she was near, I would reach out and find only water in my grasp, and then hear her voice taunting me from some other direction.
In the beginning I laughed, but as the game stretched on and my arms tired from swimming, I felt my face flush with anger. I shouted her name. She answered with more teasing calls.
I turned in circles, terrified that she was gone forever, or perhaps that she had never really been. For the first time in my life, I felt the full breadth of the Salterio pressing against me, understood the endless miles of space that it represented, loneliness in the form of water, loneliness enough to swallow a thousand cities. That was when Lemanja leapt upon my back and pulled me beneath the waves.
She turned me in her wiry grasp and kissed me. She held the kiss for so long that my head swam and I found myself weighing the cost of drowning against the cost of breaking our embrace. It would be better to die in those depths than to let go, I decided. She released her hold and disappeared.
I surfaced, gasping for breath. Lemanja appeared on the shore, silhouetted by the moonlight as she walked out of the sea. I swam in pursuit and ran as soon as my feet touched ground.
My humor at the situation faded as I chased her over the beach. My laughter turned to cursing. She seemed impossibly quick, always able to avoid my grasp just before I had her. The pursuit went on so long that I started to think she wasn’t playing at all, but was actually trying to escape. I stopped running. She turned and tackled me in the sand.
“Do not move,” she said. “If you move I will leave and I will never touch you again.” A wicked light flashed over her eyes, and I believed everything she said.
Terrified that she would stop if I so much as flinched, I lay there like a corpse as she ran her tongue over my neck, chest, and mouth. My arms shuddered with self-restraint as she kissed and nibbled my chest, and then lower. I could not hold back any more. My hands raised on their own accord and I had to use all my will to force them down again.
Lemanja sat up and brushed a strand of hair from her face.
“You may move now,” she said.