Friday, August 8, 2014

Chapter 14


I woke to voices.  “I don’t care Jace.  I’ve been warning you and Lurna both that their wildness was turning to meanness.  I won’t have them near her, not even to apologize.  I don’t trust ‘em.  She’s been through enough, and not just last night.” 

“Tad and Ern said you got her from the slave cages.” 

“Where she came from is no one’s business.” 

I tried to sit up and Gid was there in half a moment.  “Easy,” he said gently. 

My voice would still barely go above a whisper because my chest still felt tight but I had to say, “Tell him Gid.  It’s no use lying.  The truth always comes out at some point.  Better to face it now than later.  You … you can’t be any more ashamed of it than I am.” 

“I am not ashamed of it Yulee.  Don’t think that.” 

“If you’re not, I am.  I know I didn’t have any choice Gid … but it doesn’t mean …” I stopped and sighed.  “It happened.  It doesn’t do any good hiding from it.  My aunt was a horrible woman.  A horrible and unhappy woman who took out her disappointment in life on anyone within arm’s reach. She barely grieved when her parents died and only cared to make sure that she and Mam got the exact same share of the estate right down to counting the grains in the corn barrel.  She never even bothered pretending to grieve for my parents even though she and Mam were full sisters. She may not have caused my brother’s death directly but she might as well have helped it to happen.  The same for Old Annie.  Annie had no business being put to work moving those rocks from the trail.  That rattler was longer than she was tall and as mean as Aunt Giselle.” 

He brushed the hair out of my face since it took too much energy to lift my hand.  “Pretty name for an ugly woman.” 

“Family name according to my grandmother who claimed to be descended from some kind of people who were on a trip far from home when the Great War started.  From a country called France.  It was across the Lantic.” 

“Everything is poison over there so they say.” 

“Poison was everywhere for a few years after the Great War but places are clearing up.”  I shook my head.  “How did we get on a geography lesson?” 

“Because you’re still loopy and need to lay back down and rest.” 

“No, not until I know you’ll tell him … tell him the truth.  I’m ashamed enough of that part of it.  I don’t want anything more to be ashamed of, especially a lie.” 

“Shhhhh.  You promise me to lay here and be quiet and … and I’ll take Jace outside and tell him.” 

Quietly I told him, “I’m sorry your family has to know.  I’d spare you that if I could.  I just can’t live a lie.” 

“Hush that talk or I’ll climb up in this wagon and Jace can wait ‘til Hell freezes.” 

“Don’t split with your family Gid.  One day you’ll turn around and they won’t be there anymore and then nothing …” 

In a rough tone that was still somehow gentle he said,  “Didn’t I tell you to hush?  Now lay down.” 

I was out of energy at that point and don’t even remember obeying his words.  I must have been closer to being carried off by the angels than I thought. 

I finally woke for good but it wasn’t because of noise, but because of quiet.  I struggled up and then stopped when I realized that it was night once again and Gid was asleep beside me.  Only we were no longer in the barn behind the block house but were parked in a much smaller barn.  It was confusing enough that I must have gasped or made a sound because Gid jumped awake. 

“Easy there.” 

“Gid?  Did … did I miss something?” 

He ran his hand down my back and I realized I still was unclothed.  “I’d say so,” Gid said sitting up and pulling me to lean against him. 

“And … and I’ve lost my clothing.” 

He said, “Not lost.  It’s just put away in the pack seeing as how you don’t need ‘em right now.” 

I didn’t like being confused.  It made it too hard to be in control of myself.  And I felt doubly vulnerable in the state of undress I was in.  “I … I want them.” 

“Your clothes?” 

“Yes.” 

“Later.” 

Near begging I asked, “Please.” 

“Now don’t do that,” he told me while he wrapped an unfamiliar blanket around me.  “There’s nothing to be afraid of.  No one will see you but me. Well, Rook might take a peek but I don’t think you’d begrudge him that.” 

“Gid … please!” 

“Hush.  I’ve already told you no.  If you are dressed that means you are awake, and if that’s the case then they are going to want to come and check on you and I’m not ready for that yet.” 

Nothing he said was making sense.  “Where are we?” 

“In Ned’s barn.” 

I shook my head to clear it.  “You … you said Ned’s barn.” 

“Aye.  And if you promise not to get upset I’ll tell you why.”  I stilled and nodded my head.  “Promise?”  I nodded again.  “Very well.  Lurna and I have had a bit … a bit of a falling out you might say.” 

“Oh … oh no.  Because of me.” 

“No, not really. You might be part of the last of it but it’s been coming on since Father died, maybe even before then.  When Father was alive he understood I was different from the rest of them.  He had no trouble with it, encouraged it even on occasion.  He was the one that set it up so that I would go to work with Uncle Fid every summer and harvest season.  Lurna never understood it, didn’t want to understand it, didn’t like me going for so long outside the village wall; she didn’t hatch me but in her eyes I was still one of her chicks.  In fact she thought she knew better for me though she never went against Father’s wishes.  Then he died and for a bit she was overwhelmed with grief and grieving and us older ones did what we could to make her lot easier.  She was barely done birthing the last one and was in no condition to really take anything on.  Problem was she wouldn’t let go and let us do our jobs.  She made everything harder than it had to be, and still does.  She let the kids turn into unruly hellions thinking Father would have wanted them to have fun and be free.  Father would have never put up with half the pranks they play at these days.  Father loved fun and noise but he never tolerated meanness or the kind of mouths some of them now have.  Jace and the others, they can tolerate it better than I can but even they have started to have trouble with some of them being too out of control and trouble with Lurna not letting them be controlled or pay consequences, she’s even fussed at Ned a time or two but he just ignores her.   I thought that thing with Vaniece was the worst of it so I decided I was done and would move to the farm full time.  I told Lurna so but I suppose, just like always, she thought she could manage me and make me take the path she had set for me.  Me actually doing what I said which was coming back with a woman of my own choosing and making real plans for moving was an unwelcome surprise for her; she thought I’d forget all about it.  And when I didn’t, when I didn’t come all undone because she was so unhappy she took to her bed; and when that didn’t work she pulled that stunt with the family.  But the kids must have heard her say that you and I needed a lesson that put us back in our place or something like it, least that’s what some of them said when asked where they would get the idea for what they did and why they did it.   

I know you didn’t want to see this happen but this … this separation is needed.  I love my family Yulee, even Lurna despite what has come about, but I can’t live with them any longer … at least not under the same roof.  Jace and Tad and Ern … and even the uncles and some of the older girls understand.  Heather has been out and said as much herself and that Jace even told her he knows he needs to take Vaniece in hand because she is picking up Lurna’s bad habits … or at least the ones she didn’t already have.  They know I’m not cutting them off, but that I can’t breathe here anymore and need some space; that the wall doesn’t keep me safe, it pens me in.” 

“But that … that doesn’t say why we’re here.” 

“We’re here because Ned offered me a place for the night when he witnessed how Lurna wouldn’t leave me alone, how she kept trying to fight with me when all I wanted was some peace and a quiet place for you to recover.  You don’t ever do that again Yulee.  I was turned inside out with worry.” 

“I’ll try not to.” 

“Not try … don’t.  Period.  You’ve fit into my plans so neatly that when I thought to lose you all I could see was blackness when I looked at tomorrow.  I don’t say that lightly.  I don’t know what is happening but that is the way it is.” 

I put my hand on his arm and this time it was him that shuddered.  He whispered against my neck, “I need to hold you.  I know you’re not ready for anything else but I need to feel you here.” 

“I … I’m fine.” 

“No you’re not.  You could ha … oh … you mean?” 

I nodded.  “I’m fine.  If you … mmm … if you need to hold me.” 

“Well, that’s all I’m going to do … hold you I mean.  I’m a man, not an animal.  You just be sure and say something in case holding you is too much.” 

4 comments:

  1. I really like this story. (am I sounding like a broken record yet??? LOL)

    Thank you!! so many chapters today! awesome!

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  2. I am really caught up in this.
    I'm thinking this is the aftermath of a long ago nuclear war. But then with all the books at the cabin they are going to I think the answers are forth coming.

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  3. Thanks for the story Kathy one of my favor'ts looking for more of it when you can.
    Wayne

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  4. Still an awesome, gripping, and moving story! Very well done Kathy!

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