TITLE: Seven Gates
GENRE: YA Fantasy
Changing-woman has begun to teach Sechra (the MC of the book though not the focus of this passage) to free her mind from her body and enter the minds of animals. She has taught her art willingly but said nothing about her life. Sechra is asking what happens to Changing-woman’s physical self while her mind is in another creature.
“So while you are—inside—you don’t need warmth? Or food or water?”
“How could I? When there’s no one inside my body, it needs nothing.”
“Do you grow older?”
“Only when I’m here, so be glad I took time with you.” Her voice was light as ever. Sechra wondered what was underneath it—fear of dying, or only the wish to be and to know other creatures.. She rested her eyes on Changing-woman’s soft hands, her clear eyes; let Sechra slip away, and…
“Stop!” Fury tightened her throat and churned in her stomach. Then her mind shook free of Changing-woman’s and she was Sechra once again, dizzy with the sudden return into her own mind and body, staring at her teacher’s hardened jaw and cold eyes.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“I am sorry. I wondered—I didn’t understand—I didn’t really even mean to go in, I--”
“Didn’t you?” Changing-woman took a deep breath, unclenched her hands. “But don’t you ever do that again.” Her voice rose, thinned. “And why would you want to? Why trap yourself in being human?”
“Do you hate being human?”
Changing-woman's voice came high and thin. “How could I not? Shut in myself like an animal in a trap, day after day after day, with the fear and the wanting and the shame and—I wanted to die, until I found the way out, the way to be free. I thought you knew enough to want to be free.”