TEMPLE WOMAN

By Delia Lavender

(I do NOT own LOST, John Locke, Lennon, Dogen, or any character

from the T.V. Series. I only write for fun.)

She was so tired. All she wanted to do was sleep...but he was like cat hair on a black sweater: lay your body down and he'd be all over you.

Apparently he was never tired. He never seemed to sleep. He was unnatural...

Well...maybe not altogether. His stamina he attributed to "long periods of sensory deprivation". He said he had a lot to make up for...

Once she'd asked him why he couldn't divide his attentions between her, Claire and Kate. But he'd claimed to be sick of Claire, and hinted he had other plans for Kate.

So here she was again, on the bed in the miraculous cabin, which always seemed to materialize in the dead of night when everyone else was asleep.

Every night he led her through the jungle towards it, tugging her arm impatiently whenever her feet dragged. Every night she renewed her acquaintance with the scratchy, straw-filled tick and the threadbare wedding ring quilt.

At least he didn't hit her as her husband, Lennon, had done. But then, she hadn't displeased him...at least, not yet. She had seen him strike Crazy Claire, so she knew what would likely happen if she ever...

"Ouch...ease up, you animal!" she screeched. He always got a bit rough towards the end. She grabbed his shoulders and pushed upward.

"Oh, shut up...I know what you want." he growled. He pushed harder, pressing his full weight against her body.

His face was red. He was gasping. He was close to finishing...

Ah...relief. A last guttural grunt and he rolled off of her. Now maybe she could nap for fifteen minutes...

"Roxanne, I've been thinking..."

Oh, no. He wanted to talk. He was already pulling her back into his arms.

It was going to be another long, long night with what's-his-name...

* * * * * *

Her private name for him was "Old Smokey", but she never uttered it in public.

Why would she want to scare Cindy or the children? Most of the temple dwellers had no idea what they'd given their allegiance to...

Most of them thought his name was "John Locke". It's what he answered to, anyway. But Roxanne wondered if he'd ever had a real name. She was one of the few who knew what he really was...she'd seen the smoke coming out of his ears during lovemaking.

Was it lovemaking? She supposed it was. He satisfied her. She was always limp as a dishrag afterward...

She wondered what the other women would think, if they knew. Would they envy her?

But she didn't know how long she could go on, without any rest. And what would he do if she ever refused him?

She was afraid to find out. She knew he was responsible for the death of Jude, the temple baker.

Poor Jude. He had been her friend since childhood. Ever since their mothers had dragged them to the Island...

He had been ten and Roxanne had been seven. They had met on the dock, just before the nice, dark haired man had given them both a glass of orange juice.

Jude had been disappointed. He'd always wanted to see a submarine. But he'd only gotten a brief look, when they'd awakened at their destination.

"Darn...I want to see the control room. This is much better than the submarine ride at Disneyland. Why did we have to sleep through it all?"

Roxanne didn't know, either.

But she'd hated the temple. She'd hated the Island. The discipline...the tedium...the endless lectures. She missed her old neighborhood, her school, her friends...especially her great Aunt Kitty.

The only thing she didn't miss was the run-down apartment she and her mother had shared.

But mother adjusted easily to temple life. She quickly incorporated their crazy dictates, their incomprehensible "vision". When Roxanne argued or questioned, she punished her.

Roxanne lived several years with a perpetually bruised bottom.

But eventually she'd stopped rebelling. Mother had thought she'd finally accepted the temple's "ultimate truth", but there was a much better reason...

She knew that some people left the Island. Usually the leaders. Cindy Chandler was one of the people who occasionally went "on mission".

Why couldn't it be her? Why not Roxanne? If they trusted her enough...

But they didn't. When, at the age of fifteen, she'd proposed herself for leadership training, Lennon had actually laughed.

"You? You'd disappear the moment you reached the mainland! No...here is your proper place. Here is where you're useful...little Miss Pennypacker."

And he'd chuckled and pinched her cheek.

She was never able to forgive the pinch, but she had noticed something interesting: Lennon, second-in-command after Dogen, had started sweating when he touched her.

* * * * * *

She was pretty...she knew that.

At seventeen she had reached her full height. She was gracefully proportioned and fair skinned, with wavy, dark auburn hair braided in the French manner.

The temple dyer had set aside some green crinkled cotton for her. She made herself a sleeveless underdress.

She wore her skirts, layered brown and russet, low on her hips.

She had been assigned housekeeping duties. She swept the temple corridors every day.

It was tiring and monotonous. Roxanne hated it. The only amusing part of the job was watching the men.

They were always hanging around, pretending a great interest in the state of the floors. Peeking at her around corners.

Especially Jude. Whenever he could slip away from the kitchen.

Jude had become the baker's apprentice, which had an unfortunate effect on his waistline. He was allowed to eat his mistakes...

And Jude had made many mistakes. He soon become the fattest man in the temple, outweighing even the enormous butcher.

But he was her most malleable friend. And he wanted to marry her.

But she didn't want to marry him. She tried to let him down gently. If she was stuck on this Island, she wanted to marry a leader. She wanted someone who could offer her comfort and status...

But she had no affect whatsoever on Dogen, no matter how enticing she looked when she swept the corridor outside his quarters. The most she ever got from him was an amused look.

Maybe he didn't like women.

Roxanne had been fretting over her failure when her mother died.

It had been very sudden. The temple doctor thought it was a heart attack. She had been sick for a few days before her collapse. But no one had suspected...

Roxanne remembered little from that time. Shock had left her largely unresponsive. Her temple friends had gathered around her – especially Jude.

But Lennon had driven them all away.

"You need support, Roxanne. Not the support of friends, but the support of a husband. Lean on me, Roxanne...let me take care of you..."

And so she had. She didn't know what else to do.

The seamstress had made her a long white cotton skirt and a ruffled top, since she had always hated the trousers and tunic of temple ceremonial wear.

And someone had put white flowers in her hair.

She barely remembered the actual wedding. Although she did think it may have been the only time she'd ever seen Dogen smile.

She didn't remember Jude at her wedding.

"We'll go to bed for a week!" announced Lennon.

Roxanne didn't care one way or another. She was thinking about her mother.

As it happened, Lennon returned to work after only a couple of hours. There had been a fire in the kitchen, and the week's bread supply had been burned.

Roxanne was relieved. Lennon had had problems functioning. His frenzied pawing and panting had brought him nothing but perspiration and steamed up glasses.

Roxanne had sighed with relief, rolled over and gone to sleep.

She had gotten a lot more sleep on her "honeymoon" than she had ever enjoyed with "Old Smokey".

* * * * * *

But Lennon had turned out to be a frustrated, belligerent, furiously jealous husband.

He had slapped her when she'd worn the green underdress with her skirts.

"What are you doing, you slut? You're my wife now! You can't show off your bare arms...not anymore. Wear the brown tunic over it – the one with the long sleeves. And don't you dare tuck it in!"

It was so hot, dressing the way Lennon required. She cried from the heat as much as she cried from pain and humiliation.

But she never let him see it.

Jude watched miserably from a distance. She didn't dare talk to him.

Cindy returned to the temple. She had two children in tow. Roxanne visited them as often as she could – despite Lennon's objections.

"Leave them alone...those kids need training. You've got nothing to say to Cindy...you're married, now. Stay away from them."

But she didn't always obey.

She was standing near Cindy when the blonde woman walked into the compound. She was listening when the Iraqi delivered his message: "Leave the temple or die" and she was watching when the guards took the woman away.

Cindy and the children were leaving, many of the women were leaving, despite Lennon's pleas. Some of the men followed them, including Jude and the cook.

Jude lagged behind the others. He stared pointedly at her...

"Leave now." he mouthed silently.

And she tried to follow...but Lennon was after her in an instant.

"Where do you think you're going, you bitch?" he snarled. She knew that Jude was watching as her husband dragged her back into the temple.

But he didn't return to help her.

It didn't matter...she had had enough. Roxanne dug her feet in, refusing to let him haul her any further. Screaming savagely, she broke his hold and kicked out, aiming for his groin.

But it was an exceptionally small target, so she missed.

Lennon, however, didn't. He was strong despite his scrawny appearance, and very well trained. His punch caught her right on the jaw.

She was only semiconscious when he tied her to the pillar, near the pit where they'd put the blonde woman.

"I won't let you leave me," he muttered as he tightened the knots "You're my wife...I'll never let you go."

Then he left her there with the guards.

* * * * * *

There had been several hours to wait, until sundown.

Her head hurt. The area around her jaw felt swollen and tender. Her vision was a little blurry.

She dozed frequently.

Sometimes something disturbed her. The repetitive singing of the blonde prisoner...something about a star. The frenzied preparations of the guards. Lennon brought the woman, Kate, to meet the blonde. Roxanne wished she could speak to Kate – she'd never had the chance, before – but she couldn't stay awake long enough to try.

At sundown, the screaming woke her up. She opened her eyes and saw Hell. The guards were being torn apart. Boiling black smoke surged through the doorway.

She had expected a large company of militia...one had invaded the Island fairly recently. They had raided the old DARMA compound, Lennon had told her. The Black Smoke had been called...

But who had called it this time? It had turned against them...it would destroy them all.

She tried to scream, but her head hurt too much and nothing came out.

The Smoke flowed furiously above her, heading toward the corridor beyond the pit. It moved insanely fast, a raging, dark river...

And then a small portion of that river extended itself, drifting down toward her.

She moaned and shut her eyes. It was going to kill her – she knew it.

But nothing happened. For several moments she sensed a presence. When she opened her eyes again, it was right in front of her...dense, thick, with flashing lights within its boiling depths. It came closer. Too fascinated to move, Roxanne had allowed it to touch her...it had come close to her face...it had brushed against her head and jawline.

She immediately felt herself, again. The headache went away and her vision cleared.

The Smoke moved away from her. She saw it rapidly reabsorbed into the rushing mass.

The ropes fell away from her body.

There were voices behind her, coming from the pit. The prisoner and Kate had also been spared.

She did not wait to check on them, but ran rapidly out of the room.

She had to get out of the temple...before Lennon came looking for her.

* * * * *

The temple was in ruins, bodies were strewn in the courtyard, but she barely noticed.

Lennon might be behind any corner, waiting to grab her. She saw his lean face, his unkempt curls, his cruel expression within every shadow.

Maybe he'd break his glasses and be unable to find her.

But he had a nose like a ferret...he'd smell her out...

She had slowed only when she reached the temple entrance. She had seen people waiting outside. They had torches, and she recognized almost all of them.

Except for the bald, older man in front. She instinctively knew he was the leader. His gaze caught hers as she left the temple.

He stared at her, his expression grave and somber.

And speculative. Somehow, she felt that he knew everything about her. That he was visualizing what she looked like without her...

But then the moment was interrupted. Jude had staggered forward, sobbing with relief.

"Roxanne!"

For a brief moment the bald man had looked annoyed, but he allowed Jude to lead her away.

She had stayed with Jude, during the first march. She had lain with him, during the first rest period.

Of course she had not enjoyed it, but she owed it to him. It was because of him that she was alive. The Smoke, in its frenzy, would surely have killed her, had Jude not pleaded with the leader for her release.

Jude had been scouting ahead, the next evening, when he had his accident.

Roxanne couldn't understand it. Jude had been afraid of heights...how could he fall off a cliff? He'd never willingly go near the edge...

She had been crying when the leader reappeared. He put a comforting arm around her shoulders, drawing her away from the others.

"You three," he said, pointing at the temple laborers "Retrieve his body. We'll bury him before dark. Everybody set up camp. I'll take care of Roxanne."

And that night, after she had finally fallen asleep, he had come for her...

* * * * *

She was so tired. And he was droning on and on...

"...What you think of this cabin? It's no ordinary cabin, you know."

"Well...no ordinary cabin follows you around." she stifled a yawn.

"Of course not. But this is Jacob's cabin...he designed it. When he imprisoned me in it, I left it just the way it is. Why would I care how my prison looked?"

"Didn't someone burn it down? You mentioned..."

"Oh yes...Ilana. Stupid woman. The cabin's mine now, so it can't be destroyed...not as long as I want it. But how do you like it?"

"It's shelter. It's a... a shack. There are some...unusual things here, but mostly it's just a..."

"But it can be anything you want."

"What? But why..."

"I'm a man, Roxanne. I don't care about the decor. It's a part of the Island that will accompany me, when I escape from here. But it will come with me...just as you will."

"You're going to bring a shack with you?"

"It doesn't have to look like a shack - once I escape. It can look like anything you want...just as I can.

"If you shaved and wore a nice suit, you'd look very dapper..."

"Of course I would. And this "shack" could become a nice bungalow...like the one you used to visit, when you were a little girl."

"Aunt Kitty's bungalow? How did you know about that? I used to love visiting her. But how..."

"It doesn't matter. It only matters that you believe me. I understand what you want, Roxanne. You wanted to belong to the leader...and now you do. I give everyone what they want. I keep my promises."

"But Jude wanted..."

"You. And he had you – once. I kept my promise."

Roxanne dared say nothing more.

"I know you're tired...I know the marching has been hard on you. And now here you are in this dark, dilapidated cabin. Well, go to sleep now. In the morning, things might look a little different to you."

Normally, she might have thought twice - she might have noticed the cunning expression in his icy green eyes - but she was much too sleepy for such observations. Gratefully, she agreed.

* * * * * *

She slept well past daybreak. The sunlight was golden, shining on her face...

She opened her eyes. The sunlight was shining against the clean, white walls.

The mattress was very comfortable...she was tempted to nestle. But she sat up, astonishment racing through her.

She was in Aunt Kitty's nice bed. She saw the pretty, shiny scrolls of the shiny brass footboard, felt the immaculate softness of the sheets.

Aunt Kitty's beautiful, flowered bedspread was tucked around her. She had slept on her old, familiar pillow – the one with the violet embroidered pillowslip.

All of it was here. Aunt Kitty's bungalow recreated around her.

She saw the gleaming, hardwood floors. The white wicker peacock chair. The brightly lacquered bureau with its cut-glass mirror and stenciled flowers.

Outside the window, her aunt's garden stretched toward the picket fence. The well-tended hydrangea bushes waved in a gentle breeze.

She had always thought of hydrangea as "little old lady flower". She had always loved the big pink, blue or lilac flower clusters.

She found a wardrobe of summer dresses in the closet. In the parlor, where Jacob's scruffy dog portrait had been, there hung a picture of Aunt Kitty's Boston terrier.

His name had been Barney - and Roxanne had loved him.

She wept as she explored the bungalow, identifying every sunny, colorful item. Sinking into the overstuffed, chintz-covered wing chairs. Admiring her aunt's collection of fine china and Depression glass. Fixing a sandwich in the cheerful, old-fashioned kitchen.

It was a wonderful dream until she turned the front doorknob...and discovered she couldn't leave.

THE END