Fairy story; part 2. (cont.)

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20. Mai. 2012, 21:57

She woke up, eyes shut, clenched around a fist of a stomach; not pain or nausea, just focus. First thoughts were that maybe she felt sick but differently, and that she would need to fill those jugs for the old woman - and who knows how she'd even got them filled in the first place?

She heard a brief, pouring splash, then dim silence.

Itching her back against the hessian sack, like a dog against her owner's leg or responding to the hand, Gabriella cracked her eyes. The old woman was walking though the door, open to the dawn mist. Walking to the jug furthest from the door, sat against the same wall and under the window, she poured the contents of a small metal tankard into the jug, and hobbled back out.

How could she possibly look after herself? The time that must take, and time to gather food, and time to gather wood - Gabriella felt fearful for the old woman - how had she lived here on her own?

'Good morning, dear. Help me with these, please' the old woman said, turning to her as she sat up. 'It does take so long for one to fill these jugs on my own.'
Her fears were confirmed! She rose, and went over to the jugs. The one the old woman had poured her contents into was still only half full, and the other five were entirely empty.

She picked up a jug and carried it outside medium-lightly. A well stood in the wide garden, surrounded by young willows on the far side. The bucket and rope and winch all looked new, and the stone rim and the wood roof.

'Those were fear you focused on last night, dear', the crone said. 'I thought you'd need that back first, how the nights can be around here.
'A lot of people forget just how much there is to fear. When you never forget to fear, you don't need to know. You needed to know, though, dear. I hope you don't mind.'

The witch had her in her power! All day, Gabriella followed her every suggestion: after the water, the wood - picking up the deadfall in hollows and paths unremembered from her childhood. And if she wasn't a witch, then an old woman who couldn't survive without her. And if not that, well - if she left, where would she go? She could get caught out alone. Driven by her nerves, she carried back armful after armful as the sun cleared the skies for the day.

'I think I'd like some fruit tonight,' announced the old woman. 'Would you like to help me, dear?' Dumb, Gabriella was next thing standing behind the old woman at the garden gate, yesterday's mushroom basket in the crook of her arm.

'Just keep your eyes peeled for berries please dear, if you would mind' soothed the old woman. Gabriella began to worry that she was judging the woman all wrong; that perhaps her unhinged behaviour was affecting Gabriella's own mind - perhaps her very fear was offending the woman in some way.
'Now now; less of that. We're just going to be picking some fruit now dear, and nothing else.'

Where they were walking, Gabriella never knew. Small gaps appeared behind trees as they approached, and through them thickets unpassable from only two strides away. Every stretch of her hand into a bush of unrecognisable leaves brought the old woman out with some sort of small yellow plum, or a long curved cousin of a blackberry. Soon, the basked weighing her down, she found herself stepping out of the steep gloom into the safety of the house. Night had begun to threaten them, but Gabriella only found her heart racing once she'd set the basket upon the table, seeing the sun on the wall and realising how close they'd been to being caught.

One more night here, at least.

Kommentare

  • SilasMariner

    (P.S. I feel like my Journal is the other side of my drug, sometimes)

    20. Mai. 2012, 22:40
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