Thursday, June 7, 2012

Returning from War

Our weekly writing prompt (from May 31): Husband returning from war, seeing his wife for the first time. Time limit: 13 minutes.

She stood. There was a circle, and she stood within it. She understood what would happen if she stepped outside that circle, but she never saw anyone stand for so long. She should have left the baby with her sister. He was crying, and soiled, and hungry. She did not want to nurse, right there in front of everyone. Once you step into the circle, well, you couldn't leave. It would condemn the entire village.

The village. They never knew her husband. Yet they stood with her. Most of them were direct kin of hers on one side or the other. That didn't mean they liked her or approved of her husband. She knew that. She'd been on both sides of that line for other women waiting for their man, or their father.

It was muddy. It had been a particularly wet spring. She had put on her best clothes, but needed to borrow a bigger shift because her breasts were so swollen. The tartan blanket she wrapped around them had collected so much moisture from the mist that she felt certain it would drag her to the ground. She was not willing to give in to the weight. Nor would she surrender to the mud that squelched against her boots. Boots – that was laughable. She had something that approximated boots, so long as you didn't look too close.
She did have a little something other girls who claimed a man lacked. She had a ring. It was hammered out of a piece of mail her husband had taken on the field of battle. They said he had given away many of them, but she chalked that up to pride. They wanted to cast him in shadow because he had chosen her. She was more than a whelp to a camp follower, she was a bastard, to boot. She wanted better for her son – their son! And she would see it done if she had to stand here for a year!

Her grip slipped on her boisterous son who was not only squalling, but kicking as best he could. His father had been away for a full turn of seasons, and his son was quite strong. Most said he would succumb when he was late, and small and it was dark winter. They said he wouldn't last when the runs hit the entire village. She nearly did, but she made sure he was fed.
Here she stood. Full with pride, dying with questions and knowing the eyes that lay upon them would drag her down into the muck and crush her. She stood. The sun burned away the mist. She thought she saw a figure cutting through at the hill's edge...

Are you playing along? I'd love to read what you are inspired to write. Link me up!