Broken Magnolias| Silence is Precious and Joy is Fleeting
I awoke with a start and relaxed when I realize that I was in my home. I had another nightmare, but it was from the confines of the cramped chair. I throw a dirty look over at the man who had taken my place in bed. To my surprise, he was awake, if not very alert. At least he had survived the night. He groggily watched me and looked as if he was trying to piece together the events of the night before. His scrutiny made me feel uncomfortable regardless of his inability to harm me at the moment. I force myself to rise from my chair and lift my arms in a long stretch. The crowing of the cock reminding me that visitor or not, I had a whole day of work to be done. It was time to start my day.
“Do you think that you can handle something sturdier than broth?” I was surprised to see him shake his head in a negative. I had not been looking for an answer from him at all. He did however look to where I had his hands bound to the bed, and his gaze met mine directly. There was amusement in his gaze, but I was too struck by how dark and beautiful his eyes were to linger on it. I felt my face warm, and begin moving about getting ready for the day.
“Well, let’s have a look at you then. ” I attended his wounds after I had prepared another bowl of broth for him. I was disappointed that he was in no real shape to talk. I had questions that I was more than entitled to have answers to. Then again, with the severity of his wounds, I was probably better off not knowing what he was doing to incite the ire of Warly’s dogs. He drifted in and out of sleep throughout the day.
The next few days, fell back into a slightly more robust routine than my normal day. I was glad of the company. By the third day, he was able to sit himself up. I would ignore the way his gaze would fill with askance when I would flinch away when he would accidentally brush against my hand, or cringe at how he would sometimes touch my arm when he needed something. However, he never asked, asked, I was more than grateful. Soon after I was able to untie his hands, and allow him to move about the cottage to relieve himself and get back into bed on his own steam. He said nothing, and I got the impression that he could not speak. At least no more than a few grunts and hums.
The next few weeks were calming. As fall started to get cooler, and the leaves fell from the trees, my life had settled into an peaceful routine. It was so, until one day, I came home from delivering ground wheat to my mother to the most heavenly smell. I also found that the firewood was chopped, the wheat thrashed, and more importantly, the man was standing up straight. He was just pulling on the shirt I had cleaned and mended, and I could see by the sinewy bronzed muscles in his back that he was younger than I had originally thought he was. When he turned his clean-shaven face around to face me, I could see that he was not much older than I was. His hair was not the gray I had assumed it was. It was more of a pure silver bordering on white that fell in long locks around his shoulders. He was a handsome man, and my face warmed under his scrutiny.
We just stood there watching each other for a few moments. Neither of us seemed to know what to say. I was not sure what to do at first, but he took care of figuring it out for me. He moved forward and removed the new packages from my hands. Thankfully, whoever sent the packages did not mind the use of the silk to save a life. My father helped me write the letter, and I was grateful for his help. I watched as he began placing the packages exactly where they would go. He pulled out a chair from beneath the table and was careful not to touch me as I settled down. He moved to the fire and pulled the cauldron from the hearth. He ladled a helping of stew and a cup of tea for each us. Then we began to eat in awkward silence.
I watched all of this with trepidation as it was one thing for him to be lying in bed unable to move. It was another to have him moving about doing my daily chores. It was nerve-wracking watching him harmlessly moving about my kitchen in silence. I waited for a time and even tried the stew, which was delicious. However, my curiosity finally got the better of me. He poured me another cup of tea, and I blurted the first thing I thought of to say. “Do you have a name?”