It's so nice to be back to having short stories running again. :) Honestly, titling things is what I find the hardest part of the job, and using the short story title as a blog title is so much less stress lol.
This week... this week... let's see... not a lot of writing happened. I'm starting therapy with who I'm hoping will be my regular psychologist in February, but had an interim check-in this past Tuesday. I struggle with anxiety, have been somewhat drowning in grief (although after a year at home that's less front-and-center and more random blindsiding), and some teenage eating issues flared hard at the end of 2018. My interim check-in touched on each of these, with a focus on getting back to not fighting myself to be allowed to eat, and I got homework from that therapist which took up most of my brain. Good news for me? Self awareness makes the homework easier. Bad news for me? There's probably going to be a lot of homework once my regular sessions start. So I guess that's kinda good news, too?
Why am I putting this in a blog? Because positive mental health, self care, and getting help when needed is a good thing which I think needs to be talked about. I'm not helping my body, my health, my mental state, or my family when I don't eat. What not eating does do, is give my anxiety a comfortable place to grow. I don't need to be feeding my anxiety - I have the usual happenings of the Universe for keeping my anxiety well-fed. Talking about things shines light on the stuff that would like to stay hidden in shadows; like depression, anxiety, and that inner voice that doesn't say anything nice.
I'm not too upset that there wasn't much writing this week. There was a conscious effort for unblocking myself from myself so I can start spending good times with my family. And I starting thinking about being comfortable eating more than twice a day, especially what that would look like for future me because what worked in the past isn't helping anymore. I'm not at the point of being healthy with myself yet, but I can see getting there. Hope you have a good and a safe weekend!
2. The Madman
Brasus wrote the trade quickly on the offered page, signing after the woman’s previous owner had. He handed the lead rope to the man he’d just sold the horse to and stooped to grab the arm of the woman he’d just bought.
She slapped at his arm as he pulled her to her feet. He slapped her when she wouldn’t stand on her own, drawing blood at the corner of her mouth, and then clamped a hand around her wrist and led her back the way he had just come. She tripped and stumbled the entire way to the house, still crying. He ignored the questions, stares, and demands as he pulled her into the yard and through the house to where his wife was being prepared for burial, his son squirming and still crying where he was tied into the linens with her.
The woman he had bought fought against him as he pulled her toward the table. He dropped her and held her in place under his foot as he took up a nearby knife and cut open the linens, lifting his son from the shroud and holding him close with the hand not holding the knife. Brasus dropped to the floor, straddling the woman he’d bought so she couldn’t rise to her feet and run.
Rishima inhaled to scream. She was pinned to the floor by the madman who had taken a knife to the corpse on the table above her. Everyone in this house had been shouting at them as they passed. She’d shoved up to sitting when his foot had come off her, and now his weight settled on her thighs. She couldn’t move, couldn’t run, couldn’t –
She looked down at the source of the cry that had just shattered her panic. Her scream came out in a whimper. The madman threw away the knife. She looked at his face and saw… every emotion she was going through etched into his features. The babe in his arm was newly born – likely within hours – but had been in the shroud with… likely the mother who had died birthing him. The madman looked at his son with hope, and then turned his gaze to the milk staining the clothes she had been put in this morning. The stains were growing by the moment as the babe wailed.
Rishima cried at the sight of the tiny boy. She had seen the horse her life had been traded for. Horses she knew due to her father’s successful business – and her husband’s failed one. That horse would have bought four wives of her status and family position. She looked at the man holding the babe. He hadn’t traded the horse for her at all.
She pulled the shoulder lacings loose on the strange clothing she had been given and slipped her arms free of the cloth so the top fell to her waist. She cooed and shushed to the tiny boy, scooping her arms around him and pressing him close to her breast. He latched quickly, demanding the needs of his small body be met. She hooked a finger into his mouth and adjusted the hold he had on her nipple to something comfortable for her.
He ate greedily, gorging himself until he vomited and then demanding more. Her son had not been so easy; he had taken days to latch so well, and he had always seemed so confused about burping when he finished. This boy finished his second feeding, curled to her chest between her breasts when she lifted him, and burped without waking. She looked at the man who was kneeling over her legs as he pressed his hand gently to his son’s head, ignoring the people who were yelling at him in angry tones. He may very well prove to be a madman, she considered, but when his eyes met hers she knew that he was not an idiot. She held the babe tighter and dropped her head to cry, smelling the newness of the tiny boy with every breath.
When the madman took her arm to pull her to her feet, she stood quickly. When someone reached to take the baby from her, he stopped them with a word. When they tried again he pushed them back hard enough that they fell, and then he stepped sideways so that she was suddenly behind him. His voice was little better than a growl when he spoke. Then he took her arm again to pull that she would walk beside him and nobody approached her.
He led her through the house to a room near the back which was dominated by a large bed. He closed the door to the room and walked around, pointing to things like the wash basin and piss pot and speaking words she didn’t understand. He quickly made an empty cot into a bed, topping the new bed with a clean outfit that was otherwise identical to the dirty and bloody one she was wearing. Eventually, he took the babe from her and simply nodded to the wash basin. She gladly stripped from the clothes she had thought she was going to die in and washed the sand and blood from her skin, dressing into the new outfit once she felt clean.
When she turned around, he was lying on his side on the large bed with the sleeping babe nestled in the crook of his arm. He was simply enthralled with the sight of the tiny boy sleeping against his chest. He kissed the babe’s head and then closed his eyes and silently cried himself to sleep, a pained smile pulling at his mouth.
Rishima moved cautiously to the small cot that he had given her and lay down. She looked around the room once more before closing her eyes. This house, this situation, this man… this was not the life she had expected. She cried quietly as exhaustion pulled her into sleep.
The babe’s cries woke her a few hours later. She simply rolled from the cot, loosed the ties at her shoulders, pulled the boy from his father’s embrace and held him to her breast. The child quieted immediately and she simply sat down to watch the tiny boy suckle until he was full and heavy in her arms. He was so little, even smaller than her son had been, but there was strength in his grip when she pressed her finger into his palm.
She watched out the small window toward the setting sun, ignoring the unfamiliar buildings and strange hills beyond them. Her father was a proud man and – she had always believed – a good man. Her mother and the rest of his wives were strong women, all of them proud of their marriages. When his second wife had died, the other six had each joined honestly in mourning her. A few days after her death, Rishima had seen the newest wife, her father’s seventh, quietly praying at a strange time to be doing so. Being young, Rishima had asked the wife why she was praying, crying, and smiling, all at the same time. Aakanksha had hugged Rishima closely.
“My first son died last year, you remember?” Aakanksha asked. Rishima had nodded. “So I am praying for Eeshta to find him and raise him up for me, now that she is dead too.”
Rishima didn’t know the name of the mother for the son she was holding right now, but she prayed very hard for that mother to find her son and raise him up for her. She added the promise of caring for the boy in her arms as her own, for however long this tiny boy’s father asked her to. She prayed as hard as she could as the sun set. The answer from the mother of the tiny boy, one of acceptance, filled her heart as the madman’s palm settled over her spine between her shoulders and he looked around her elbow to smile carefully at her tearstained face. She realized when she felt him move as he sat up that she had been so distracted with the baby that she was sitting on the large bed, but he didn’t try to send her away.
She smiled at the baby and lifted him just enough to cuddle his soft hair between her shoulder and her cheek. The tiny boy promptly ruined the perfect moment by relieving his bladder and bowels, and Rishima burst out laughing. She was going to have to find his swaddlings soon, or she would be spending all of her time cleaning.
Why are Authors crazy? I can't answer that, but I can provide bits of my own thoughts so that you can piece together why I may be.