Broken Magnolias| Ivory Bones and Silent Screams

A few seasons had passed, and my life was a well-run routine. I even began to teach my sister the things Gwen had taught me. Though she was bright and eager to learn, she was at that age where thoughts of marriage and unicorns filled her dreams. It felt so long ago since I used to have those dreams. Every once in awhile I fell the slight stirring of regret. Seeing the women who had once been girls that I played with surrounded by their children as they came to market. Some were happy and others were not. Either way they were at least not alone.

It had been so long since I had spoken to anyone not in my family, and even less to them these days. I had everything I needed in Gwen’s cottage. However, a package had come, and the kind shop keeper had sent his son to fetch me. When I arrived in town I was at once reminded of what the they thought of me. I should have known that they wouldn’t allow me to forget.

“Ah Vivianne! Welcome, these came for you! I thought only the old woman received such parcels.” The shop keeper laid the cloth bundles onto the counter and waited for me to claim them.  

“These… came for me?” My voice was a little raspy from disuse. The package held the same seal that the ones Gwen used to get had. I look up at the shop keeper, and he shrugged just as bewildered as I was. “Are you sure they are mine?”

“Quite sure.” The bell over the shop keeper’s door tingled, and he turned to see who it was. “Ah, if you will excuse me. Beth, how are you?”

“I’m well, Vivianne I’m surprised you showed your face around here.” Beth pulled her child closer to her side as if I was a danger, and I knew it was time that I left. She continued to move towards the counter, and we both made a point of avoiding brushing against the other as turned back to the shop keeper.

“I was just leaving.” I nodded to the shop keeper, and picked up my packaged to take back to my cart. “Thank you.” I could feel Beth’s eyes upon me as I moved towards the door. I did my best to ignore her and the rest of the town as I loaded my parcels.

“Hey! Where do you think you’re going?” Beth either had a small order, or she followed me out to the cart. I was willing to be on the latter. Her husband had been on of those who had asked for my had at one time. Now he was married to Beth with two children, and another on the way. I turned suppressing a deep sigh. The look in Beth’s eyes were not particularly friendly, but I’m sure mine weren’t any warmer. She watched me for a moment before speaking. As if she was speaking to a wild animal she wasn’t sure of. “When you are going to get married?”

“When I choose to.” My reply was short, but so was my patience. Her marital troubles were not my problem. I climbed into my cart, and her hand snaked out to grab my arm. I knock it away and glared at her in warning. “Don’t touch me again.”

Beth’s eyes widen. Whatever she heard in my voice made her practice the good sense the Lord gave her because she did not try to put her hands on me again. “It’s disgraceful how you walk about the village with your nose in the air. Turning every man who asks you down. When in truth they’re to good for you! Tempting good married men from their wives!”

I was tempted to correct her, but anyone with eyes could see that we wore essentially the same thing. Granted my outfit looked a little newer, but my mother was the best seamstress in the village. I just listened in confusion until she finished. The part about tempting men making everything come together.  “Ah, so your husbands makes some tasteless remark, and instead of getting made at him you choose to be angry with me?”

Her silence told me all I needed to know about how true what I said was. I tried to keep my eyes from lifting towards the heavens and failed.  “Never mind. Who I do and do not marry is of no concern of yours.  Apparently, you should be more worried about your marriage rather then if I will ever have one!”

I was starting to get irritated and I knew it was time for me to go. I start to tug on the reigns, but Beth appeared to not have learned her lesson. She reached for my arm again. This time the slap happened before even I could stop myself. I was only marginally sorry, the cold fury that raced along my spine keeping me from feeling too bad.

Her hand lifted to the red mark that was spreading across her cheek. The sound had been loud even to my ears. Beth’s mouth opened and closed a few times before she began to sputter in a rage. “It’s any wonder any man wants you at all! I shouldn’t have even bothered speaking to the likes of you! You aren’t normal!”

By that time I had started leading my cart out of town my anger was was showing no signs of abating. I was just left with that numb cold sensation I had been feeling as of late.  The horse reared some as Beth continued to shout at my retreating back. I didn’t turn around, as I had nothing left to say. She had started to draw a crowd, but it didn’t matter I wouldn’t go back.

“The Miller was right! You’re a witch!” By the time I reached the edge of town her words were becoming intelligible. I stopped paying attention and continued to lead my mare away from the town. The further away I was the more my muscles began to relax.

Did they think I was immune to the slings and arrows of spiteful words? Words meant to my cut will and soul into millions of pieces. Did they think I didn’t have feelings, or that I was made of stone? I continued my ride through the woods, and by the time I had made it back to the cottage I was no less angry then when I started the journey home. So, wrapped up in my thoughts I almost forgot about the packages left in my cart. I look back behind me and took a deep breath. I hoped whatever was in those parcels were worth all the trouble they caused me.


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