Broken Magnolias| Rage From My Cage

I returned the next day and began lighting the fires and grinding the wheat for both of our houses. Since that morning I have been doing it all while lady Gwendolyn rests. Both houses have prospered. I was in demand for marriage once again. Money seeming to make my freakishness disappear. A fact which both disgusts and repels me everything within me. It made my mother happy to be able to have a dowry for my sister. The letters from my brother were very encouraging and filled with tales of battle and dragons.

I lived for the days my father would read his letters to us. I would cast each letter to memory and tell them to the old woman who now insisted I ca called her by her Christian name. I did it was a small thing that she asked, and I owed her so much.

One day though I arrived, and Gwen was in bed. I went about as normal lighting the fines and grinding wheat. She stopped me gnarled fingers crooking and curled towards her palm. Beckoning me over to her bed. She handed me a letter with a seal upon it.

“You are not to pen or read a word of it! Do you hear me child?” The his of her voice made more pronounced by the col she seem to feel more and more these days. “I’ll know if you do. I must prepare. I feel the good wife will call me home soon.”

“Don’t talk like that!” My voice snapped surprising us both. I had no idea of where the vehemence of my voice.

Her eyes watch mine steadily for a moment before her face softens into a fond smile. Her fingers curl and stroke through my hair. It had grown past my shoulders over the season. I slowly relax, and slowly take a step back. I had gained an aversion to touch since my birthing day. It was a strong one, but these days my mother was one of the few I allowed to touch me. Even my sister had grown used to the way I cringed at the touch of her hands.

“It happens to us all child. I have helped you find your freedom. Maybe now I’ll find peace eh?” Her hand lifted in a shooing motion as she looked out the window. “Now off with you. It will be dark soon. Don’t forget to send that letter.”

I glance outside and give her a quick nod before collecting my things. If I wanted to get home before the sun set and make to town I would have to leave now. I stop on my way home to send the letter and ignore the hateful stares of the town’s folk. What they feel is not my business after all. The shop keeper bids me a polite goodbye, and I turn in time to see Moira walk in holding her child. Her husband and my nightmare following close behind. I meet Moira’s eyes, and do my best to ignore the bruising she tries to hide with lace and satin.  Though she smiled, I could see the quite desperation in the way she tightly held to the baby in her arms. They would wait long enough long enough until the baby was weaned then slowly push her out. I mentally shudder at the fate of the girl I once called friend.

My heart breaks at the tentative smile she gives me. I dutifully come over to ooh and aah at the bundle within her arms. I could have swept past them, but it would have caused me more headache then they were worth truly. I give Moira my goodbyes and head towards the door as soon as was polite. However, the sound of her voice catching me just as my hand rested on the latch.

“Vivian, I have not seen you in a while. I had expected to see you around the…” Moira’s words died, and her words forgotten. It seemed she had at least been aware of her husbands continued interest.  

I decided upon the better part of valor and ignore the implied statement. “I have been taking care of my family. If you’ll excuse me.” I nod taking my leave and try to ignore the sound of the steps that follow me out the door.

“I see that you and your family survived the winter.”  the Miller’s son didn’t look too happy about it. He had probably kept himself warm at night dreaming of the I would beg him for bread.

“No thanks to you. If you’ll excuse me.” I move towards my cart and climb into the seat. Fully aware that he was following close on my heels.

My fingers close around the reigns, and his hand wraps around my wrist. The chill in his eyes had not thawed with the coming of his son. In fact, it only seemed to have hardened him. “The offer of my bed still stands.”

“You mean the offer of me crawling to you like a dog? Never, I’ll see you dead before it happens!” I kick his hands away from the reigns and rive off. Fury spreading beneath my skin as my cart rolled through the woods. Not really paying attention to which direction I was going. 

I could not shake my hatred of him, no matter what I tried. I shake my head trying to clear it of my intrusive thoughts. I finally noticed that I was back at the cottage, but something was strange. The windows were curiously dark. I run and fall to my knees at the sight. Gwen laid cold and lifeless on the floor.

I rush to her side and pull her in to my arms rocking her back and forth as if it would be enough to call back a life that was already long gone. “Lady Gwendolyn no! Please, please no! wake up! I am so sorry! I had not meant to leave you! I should never have left. Instead I let that…” I scream into the darkness, and gently lay Gwen back onto the floor. I stare at her for a few minutes before dashing back to my cart.

The mare and I run through the trees like we were mad. I could see the lights of the town. The Miller’s sone was laughing with his friends at the same tavern where all of my pain had started. One of them had told some tasteless joke no doubt. I pull the mare to a halt and toss the reigns into the street making a direct line towards the man my hatred was so focused on.

“Why look who it is! Looks like she came to…” Whatever horrible thing that man was about to say ended as the whip I never had the heart to use on Gwen’s mare lashed out at his nose. His head rocked back against his shoulder and rose just in time to meet the next swing of my whip.  

I don’t know what was happening, but my rage had found its mark, and would not be sated until he was hurting as much as I had been! “You bastard, once again I was blaming myself when it was you! It’s your fault that the Unicorn almost didn’t come for me, and your fault Lady Gwen died alone! I hate you! I swear to you. If you ever lay a hand on my or anyone in my family again, I will lay you into the street as dead as my Lady!”

The Miller’s son seemed to have taken me at my word. Once the coward had seen his own blood, he had never tried anything with me or my family again. It didn’t stop him from spreading nasty rumors, but he stayed far away from me while he was spreading them. Most just put the sudden flare of insanity up to grief at losing Gwen. However, those scorned rarely left good enough alone.

The seasons turned taking with it the chill from the air. Soon my days started to meld into each other. Many thought that with Gwen gone my family would starve. They were very wrong. I worked day in and day out to make sure that we stayed fed throughout the winter. My sister had gotten a little older, and I was now eighteen. She soon took over the daily chores at my family’s home, and I began living at Gwen’s cottage alone. It was a scandal throughout the village, but no one contested my right do so. I was at peace for a time, but that would all change.  



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