I’m doing something a little different for a post today. My mother and sister are gone this week, leaving me and my father to take care of all our animals (two horses, three cats, a goat, a house rabbit, and a half-tame pigeon), and I’m beginning to feel like a beginning spinner, concentrating on getting the yarn to hold together just long enough to make it to the spindle. So far the yarn has only gotten dangerously thin about once, and we’re all still alive, so, good. Hopefully we can stay that way, through below-zero temperatures, through Tuesday. Also school starts on Monday. Things are a bit busy. But I did manage to get a bit of writing done yesterday, which I present below.
(N. B. My sister suggested the title “Love goes on and on” for this post when I was having trouble coming up with ideas. You’ll find out why I said “ouch” to that.)
Miss Melody at The Splendor Falls has a writing challenge once in a while, and this month’s gave me an idea. This scene is from the point of view of a secondary character in Wind Age (and for the two of you who have read it, try not to give away any spoilers, please and thank you).
“The gods took him, but the gods also gave you all those years together, and the children.”
“The gods give, the gods take and take. What do they give us that they do not take back? Are our lives not already short enough? Are they jealous of our happiness? Then they are petty indeed.” At once Astrid regretted saying that; the older woman drew her fingers through the air in the sign against evil.
“Do not think that way,” she warned, “or you will find out how much you have left to lose.”
There are still the children, she thought again, as she had so many times, this time a step farther. I still have the children, and while they live the gods can hurt me.
“I am sorry. I did not mean to speak so. It is hard at first — one is so angry, in grief.”
“I understand. But the gods may not, or they may choose to overlook your intent.”
The older woman lightly touched Astrid’s hand and rose, leaving her alone by the fire. Outside the merry shouts of children blew from the town. Astrid’s own were among those playing, too young to understand.
She lightly touched her belly. It had begun to swell just before that cruel day, but now even that hope was taken from her. Would it have been a son, whom she could have raised to walk his father’s brave path? Or a daughter, in whose eyes or mouth she would have seen hints of her husband looking out at her, in this way to live on? She would never know.
Astrid leaned forward, an elbow on her knee, chin cupped in her hand, staring into the fire. She would have no more children. The tears that slowly began to flow, now that she was at last alone, were for herself almost as much as for Sigemund. In time the women would begin to tell her she was free to wed again, that if she desired more children she could choose any man for herself. But she knew that she could not bear to hold a child of hers if it was not equally a part of Sigemund.
And now she had her children to keep. To raise and guard them that their father would have been proud: this was her task. To love them overmuch was unwise; it would only invite the gods’ toying with her again. They could afford to — who could touch them? But she would not give them the opportunity.
The Christian woman who took her place as hlafdige of the Thegn’s house after the old one died chose not to bear her lord children, and he, short-sighted, did not or could not foresee the harm that would bring him. That a woman who had the freedom to bear a child would refuse, and one who so much desired to could not, was beyond bearing. But Astrid was patient, and she would find a way.