Broken Magnolias | Of Witches, Flour, and Pain

The old woman who lived on the other side of the village came into town. The dogs barked, and the children ran to scream and push at her. They tore at her clothes, and throwing clods of dirt at her legs. I couldn’t stop myself from going over, grabbing a stick and beating them away. I couldn’t take the splintering image of my mirror being treated so. I received dirty looks from the mothers of the children, which I ignored. The old woman could easily be any of them. It could easily by me.

I try to brush off her clothes, but she shakes me off. Not that I could blame her. I hated being touched, but I hated pity even more. So instead I moved to gather her things while she collected herself. Putting her parcels into the cart besides mine. I waited till she was standing, and helped her into the cart. Not a word passed between us. None was needed. We both understood each other perfectly.

There was one more stop to make. I shuddered as we approached the mill. Ignoring the shrewd knowing look the woman gave me. I didn’t want her pity any more then she wanted mine. Besides, I had to focus on steeling myself, and schooling my features for when I entered the mill. The miller’s son ran it now. If I were to do business at all it would be through him.

I slid from the cart carrying in the wheat my father produced on his land. We needed flower for the coming winter. The leaves were all ready starting to turn, and the summer had just ended. The deep breath I took helped at all. I stepped in, and he was there. Same blue eyes, and same cold smile. Moira was there visiting the her husband, and I went over to her wrapping her in a hug. She was one of the few things I missed about town. Despite her choice in husband.

She smiled, and returned the hug just as warmly. She was a few months with child. Many said the child wasn’t his, but none would say it too loudly. I made the appropriate noises while I waited for the miller’s son to finish talking with the few men that were in the building. Ignoring the slight snickers, and hushed laughter at my expense. I didn’t care what he said about me as long as he didn’t touch me.

The men soon departed, and I placed my order. To be honest I was glad of the audience it meant that I wouldn’t be alone with him. It was obvious though my luck was to run out. One of the men had decided to escort Moira home. Who looked only too glad to go. Then one by one they all started to drift away. With each one that left I could feel the tension rise in my shoulders.

It seemed as if he was going to behave. In fact I had just loaded my flour when he reminded me that I needed to pay. I silently gritted my teeth, and went back into the mill. Stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place. If I didn’t go, he could accuse me of stealing, which would shame my parents. If I did he would try something. In the end I chose to go in. My family was more important then I ever could be.

“I’m glad to see you again. I haven’t seen you around much.” The miller’s son was all cheery business as he counted my money. I said nothing while he finished counting the money. I wanted to make sure I said nothing to encourage him The faster I was gone the better.

“You know the price of your flour could be a lot less expensive for you if you were nicer to me.” His venom filled words echoed in the silence of the room, as if he was speaking about the weather.

My eyes snapped up into icy blue ones. My skin cringing upon its self as he gaze drew over me. I took my change, and slowly backed out. I didn’t want him behind me at all. He moved from behind the counter and slowly starred to pace me. Each step filling my veins with ice.

“Come on. It’s a good deal. I’ll do you a favor for a taste of yours.” He lazily followed me to the door, I kept desperately hoping would materialize as I stepped back.

I slowly reached behind me. Blindly searching for the latch on the doorway. He took the opportunity to press me between himself and the door. Terror locked every muscle when my body. His hand lifted to stroke along my cheek. I wrenched away unable to keep the repulsion from my face.

Clearly he caught it. His face became a mask of fury. Turning already cruel features hideous. “Think you’re too good for me? Think you’re better then me? I’m doing you a kindness by offering to sleep with you!” His voice had become angry snarls against my ear.

I stated to twist trying to pry his hands from my arms. I checked and stomped at his feet, but his height and size only made the gestures annoying from him much like horse swatting a fly. Soon only succeeding in amusing him.

“If you stopped pretending you didn’t like it, and started participating like the whore I know you are, this would be a lot easier.” He topped, and looked down at me, his smile cruel and mocking as his eyes focused on mine. “By the way, where did you pick that magnolia blossom?”

He laughed as I went frigid. Only able to gape at him for a few moments before my hand jerked free, and slid along his face in a loud slap that filled the room. His face was a study in stunned silence. His eyes blinked down into my glaring ones. What right did he have to say those horrible things to me? I tense as he reaches out. I had become angry, and I could feel hot hate filling my body as I watched him. I was sure that he was going to slap me in return, but I was beyond caring at this point. In the end what he did was much worse.

He jerked the door open, and pushed me out into the road. Those arctic pools swimming in cold hatred as he stared down at me with the smile I had grown to hate. “Talk to your family. See how they like the idea of starving for the winter. When you’re ready to give me what I want come back and grovel for it. You might catch me on a merciful day. Then again, you might not.”


© SL. Williams 2015


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