In Her Head (short story)
Title: In Her Head
Author: player of Charna Ja'Varrel'Kav
Goshawks and gulls sporadically cawed into the chill night, their pleas a strange counterpoint to the rhythmic sound of rushing water. The tide was receding, the salted waters fleeing from the land where freshwater feed life, and waters of the bay were poison. Crawfish struggled to follow the tide, only to be caught up by the black masked bandits of the night.
Beneath an ancient cypress tree the quiet noise of the marsh was muted, and the scents masked by surrounding soft wood trees laden with fruits and their sweet blossoms. Nests were fashioned in the knotted roots and limbs of the twisting tree, the homes they created high enough from the ground to keep raccoons, mire cats and waterfowl safe from being a potential meal to any wandering crocodiles.
Houses ranged around the tree, some vacant and layered in ecru-hued moss. In the cluster of abandoned houses only a pair stood out as occupied; one with closed windows and the other with shutters flung wide. The crackle of a merry fire staved off the night chill in the tightly sealed one, its orange flames banked for slumber, while only moonlight illuminated the more open one.
Seen then unseen through the open window, she paced in the moonlight. Her mind was a jumble of conversations from the evening, when merry laughter had surrounded the somber table that she had shared with a strange trio. Everything had been left bare, secrets long buried in her belly were brought to light and the response was nothing as she thought it would be.
And through it all, he had kept his distance. She had espied him sitting quietly at an adjoining table. He said nothing. He did not even glance her way, keeping close to his promise to not push. His presence was strange, and should have been of more comfort then it was.
It confused her.
Her pacing carried her to the wall, her hand brushing the low table where bowls from the evening meal were left half eaten.
"Well being a simple farmers wife I doubt you'll have many comming to ask you to use your gift."
A frown marred her otherwise young, carefree features at the memory of that statement. She paused in her pacing. Is that what the god's wanted? She wondered. Could they want her to give up her gift of sight?
She shook her head and twisted to make the return path to the far side of the room.
"But if I gave up my blade, and my daggers, and my forests, maybe."
"But then you would stop being you..."
"The forests, Charna. Not that other stuff. I have seen your connection to the land."
"Isn't a farmer connected to his land?"
"Not in the same way. Your connection, to the land, and the spirits that inhabit it.. It is like my own connection, to my Patron. The void the loss of that connection brings Charna.. is a soul deep agony. Give up your blade, your daggers, if you must. Do not give up the forests."
She placed her palm upon the wall as it loomed before her. Her breath streamed into the chilled night air of her cottage in quick, ragged gusts of mist.
As she touched her hand to the wall, her eyes grew vacant and his golden-eyed gaze filled her vision. His face was patient, so very patient. He wanted to understand her, to help her. He cared for her, missed her when she was absent. He deserved what he sought, but she had been distant. Wrapped in her strange ways, she had left forgetting to tell him where she went. When they had rejoined, she?d been so tired from her travels that she was no company at all, but he had understood and been kind. He'd walked her home, never pressuring her need for space, never dipping his lips to hers. When she frowned, he had blamed himself and let the distance between them grow; allowing her space and time. He had wanted her to join him in Mule, and she'd found another excuse to postpone the trip.
She squeezed her eyes shut so tightly that a lance of ebony shattered the image of his clean-shaven face, his tousled tawny mane that reminded her of the warm rays of the sun on a cool day and his kind, caring eyes the shade of thick, clean grass. He was too good for her. Someone that any of a dozen girls in Solhaven would die to cling to, to lock arms with and yet, she felt panic every time she thought of the idyllic life that he wished for them.
When she opened her eyes the darkness receding from her vision and a new face flowed to life before her upon her cottage wall. His eyes were hard, yet no less kind. His hair pure silver the shade of slanting moonlight, his skin deep ebony and as flawless as the shadows she wrapped herself in. He had seen the things she had seen, he had sung the songs she was taught, fought the wars she had been within and understood so much of the ache in her soul.
Voiced flowed from her memory once more, their tone quiet and soft. The conversation was two days past.
"Courting isn't a promise of love."
"Pity. It should be."
"What is it a promise of, then?"
"To try, to see if it's possible to love. To see if it's possible to find a mate in the other person."
"Don't you already know, though?"
"I can tell you."
"You can tell me if I can live my life with him?"
"You'd be better off with me, than with him."
She flopped onto the pile of pelts stacked at her feet, and allowed herself to be cushioned in their thick warmth.
Would life ever allow for simplicity? Why must things always be so strange, so odd?
Throwing her arm across her eyes, she listened for the answers and hoped that they would come to her on the chill wind. Silence answered her.
Two worlds. Two men. Sunlight and Moonlight. Shadow and Light. They were as different as peace and chaos.
Someone once told her that she deserved her happiness. Wasn?t happiness finding a man to love you? Someone that could understand and accept the limitations of your body? Someone that wouldn't question your mixed parenting, nor care that you weren't pure? Wasn't happiness making a home for you, a loving shelter where children could be raised and protected? A quietly life, giving up her sword for a plowshare. No more wars, no more chaos.
What was happiness? In all the fairy tales isn't that what the young woman always wanted? Her knight in shining armor? Someone who cared?
Sleep came to her in fitful spurts. Words echoing to her.
"I don't want to push you, I'm sorry." Said one voice, while another...
"Because I don't want to see you fat in front of a fire and miserable?"
"Who says I'll be miserable?"
"Your eyes say it."
Damn you, she had said to him and it was with that last thought that sleep took her and filled her with dreams of what her life might be.