The Scarred Goddess Chapter 2

Fiction By Bridget // 4/4/2009

Everything happened so fast. I couldn’t believe that everything and everyone I had cared for was gone in the space of four hours. I tried to close my eyes, but I couldn’t. Every time I did, I saw my mother, her grey face slipping lower and lower; and her back twisted in the iron black saddle that she always used. I had to keep them open

I refused to think about what had happened. I was constantly fighting to keep the pictures and the pain out of my head. Where was Thosu, anyway? And then it all flooded back and I lay on my side and sobbed, my sides convulsing, my heart contracting as if someone had thrust a sword through my middle.

Dawn comes early in the land of Keste. The first fingers of grey came shooting over the horizon. This is the part where most people wake up after having cried all night and feel a sense of peacefulness.

I know this, because they have many stories of the old gods and goddesses and their children, and many of them say this. I had been crying all night, however, and there was no relief for me.

I began to walk, aimlessly, wondering what would become of me. A goddess-child is not like a delicious pomegranate that rolls off the stands and is immediately picked up by somebody eager to taste it. The gods and goddesses were no longer respected in the city, ever since Keste started the Wars, and it was not safe to enter the city undisguised. My mother would often go into the city, posing as a simple housewife.

I came to the edge of the birches with tears rolling down my cheeks. I swiped at them with my sleeves. I rested my cheek against the tree, trying desperately to control my sobs. Perhaps I should stay in the woods until I could think more clearly.

I stayed in the birch-wood for three weeks, searching for food, often eating only heona root, and slowly getting used to the idea that I was going to have to make my own way now. I still cried over my family when I thought of them, but I had learned not to think of them, to make my days easier. It was time to enter the city.

I had not washed once during the time I was in the woods, so that was the first thing that came to my mind, but the only place I saw was the public bath in the center of the city. I asked the guard if there was not another place that I might bathe in, but he just laughed and said, “What? Are you too high and mighty to bathe with the rest of us? What do you think you are, a goddess?”

All the other soldiers and guards that he was with laughed and jeered. My face turned red with fury, and I very nearly let it slip that I was practically a goddess, at least the nearest they had to one since the rest were probably dead by now.

Somehow, I kept my words in and climbed into the bath. Three weeks worth of dirt practically slid off. As angry as I was at the guards, I almost smiled as the water wrapped around me. At home, we had a brook that I bathed and swam in, and the feeling was very nearly the same. And it felt good to be clean. I was very much refreshed by the time I stepped out of the bath.

I decided that next I should find a place to live. I thought I could pretend to be an orphan, and maybe someone would take me in. Two hours later, after having gone through near half the city (or so I thought), and after having been yelled at by some, I was entirely disillusioned and very much disheartened. One motherly looking woman had almost decided to accept me, but her husband came home then and said he was sorry, but they could not afford another mouth to feed.

I saw that I might have to work for my food and shelter. I had never had to work before, and I wasn’t eager to start now, but there wasn’t much I could do. I went back to the woman and asked if perhaps I could work for my keep. She called her husband to the front of the little cottage they lived in. She repeated what I had said. He rubbed his beard slowly, nearly crossing his eyes in thought.

“I don’t know that there is anything that you could do that would help us here, but perhaps you could work at the docks with me.” I immediately agreed. When I had lived on the hill I would beg my mother to let me down near the ocean, but she never would let me. “It’s too dangerous for a child like you.” she would say. I had always loved the water. A voice broke into my thoughts. “She mayhap could help with the children.”

Oh no, I was terrible with children. I was impatient and demanding. I tried to make her understand this, but she refused to believe me. Nonsense, it was, any girl could learn to love children, she said.

The way it came out in the end was that I would help Mante on the docks after dark, and his wife Liuna with the children during the daylight hours.

The docks were dangerous; they weren’t very well fastened to the shore, so that the slightest bump could set them tilting, and more than once I lost my balance and fell off. Aside from that, all the lowlife lurked nearby, and it was made worse in the dark. As a girl I had to be on my watch all the time.

My first day, Mante gave me a whistle, a beautiful copper contraption that we had not seen up on the hill. I was to blow it if there was ever any trouble I could not get myself out of. I never actually had any trouble, but it was comforting to have near.

I am ahead of myself. My first night with Mante and Liuna was spent on a cot in the south corner, next to a little window facing the back. Nightingales, perched on the branches of a tree I had not seen before, sang their breathtaking song. Liuna told me that the tree was a jesta tree. It had silvery green leaves, and its slim trunk and branches held a hint of blue. It reminded me of stories told to me of dryads, and mermaids.

Liuna said it would be a long day for me tomorrow, and I had best go to sleep. Mante wouldn’t be home until morning. Tomorrow I would learn to help Liuna with her children, and come nighttime I would help Mante down at the docks.

There were five children. Thia was the youngest, and she reminded me painfully of Shifa. Her jade green eyes, her smile, and the way she cuddled next to her mother when she was scared. Next were Jimte, a small boy not much older than Thia, Lalata, a darling girl in the exact image of her mother and due for her eight birthday within the week, and Domtu, a quiet boy with interest only for locksmithing, it seemed.

Finde was the oldest, and different in every sense of the word. He was quiet, then wild, then nearly dancing for joy. He was impossible to hold down, and entirely unpredictable. I couldn’t help liking him. No one could, for long. He seemed to be, quite simply, from another world. Liuna was correct; I soon learned to love all of them, and for the most part I enjoyed taking care of them, although Finde didn't need much taking care of, as he was nearly fifteen.

I was also busy down at the docks. Mante taught me everything, from how to carry the heavy wooden buckets so as not to break my back, to making repairs in broken hulls. I soon found it was impossible to work in the women’s robes I wore, and the next morning Mante presented something he had made out of a man’s robe.

It was shaped funny, so that there were two tubes that wrapped around my legs, connected at the top. All the sailors wore them, but I was rather hesitant. “Just try them on.” he said. I put them on reluctantly, but they were so comfortable that I wanted to wear them all the way back to the house. Mante laughed and said that we needed to keep this to ourselves; Liuna would be shocked to see me like this.

From then on I wore my real clothes in the day and my new sailor’s clothes at night. It had been two months since the attack.

Lalata became ill during September, when the air first started to become crisp. It was not much at first, just a cough and a sniffle. After about a week Liuna sent her to bed, much to her protests. The next day there were no protests. Lalata lay in her bed, feverish and shivering at the same time. Mante gave me the nights off so that I could remain by her side and spoon warm broth into her mouth. It was hard for her to swallow.

Mante went for the healer the next morning. The healer pounded a poultice of herbs, none of which I recognized, and placed it on her throat, to draw the fever out, she said. There was nothing we could do but wait. Meanwhile, Liuna kept the other children away from Lalata, so as to keep them from getting sick.

Finde was beside himself. He spent his fifteenth birthday in his room, pacing back and forth, coming out only to check on Lalata. As often as not, Liuna would be in the room with me, and she would shoo him out. I let him stay, though. I couldn’t turn him away. He was nearly crying one time, asking me if I thought she was going to be okay. I couldn’t honestly say yes, and I couldn’t tell him that no, his little sister was dying. I stared at him, trying to find something to say, but he didn’t wait to hear it. He ran into his room with a strangled cry.

Perhaps you may think it strange that a boy of his age reacted like this. As I have said, he was different. No one really understood him, and it didn’t seem strange that he should cry. I suppose you could say that he felt more than other people.

The healer came by again that night. She arranged no poultices on Lalata’s neck. She did not ask for payment. She simply prayed over her, and left. Lalata’s fate was sealed. Nothing but a miracle could help her.

Comments

Another great chapter!

Oh, no! Pull through, Lalata! Maybe the goddess can heal her, if she only knew how...

Sarah B. | Wed, 04/08/2009

Wow, you really like it? I

Wow, you really like it? I didn't think it was as good as the first. I haven't quite decided whether or not Lalata should live. I think you'll find out in the next chapter.

"Wait a minute. Wait a minute, I am just about to be brilliant." - Cosmo, from Singing In The Rain

Bridget | Wed, 04/08/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Why shouldn't we like it? I

Why shouldn't we like it?
I admit, I'm terribly worried about Lalata too. :(
*************************************************
I've gone to look for myself. If I should return before I get back, please tell me to wait.

Anna | Wed, 04/08/2009

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Hmm. I don't know, I just

Hmm. I don't know, I just didn't think it was as interesting as the first. However, my judgement is frequently incorrect. I'm glad you guys like it, though!

BTW, Anna, I love your quote!

"Wait a minute. Wait a minute, I am just about to be brilliant." - Cosmo, from Singing In The Rain

Bridget | Wed, 04/08/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Great chapter two! You're

Great chapter two! You're right Anna, it does remind me a wee bit of Ever. But it's very original, too. :) More, please!
~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~.~
Seen on a billboard advertising
a Septic Tank Company:
"We're #1
in the #2 business."

Sarah | Wed, 04/08/2009

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

Thanks! I had a little

Thanks! I had a little trouble with writers block, but I should be posting more fairly soon.

"Wait a minute. Wait a minute, I am just about to be brilliant." - Cosmo, from Singing In The Rain

Bridget | Tue, 04/14/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

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