Chapter 7 Flaws
The next morning came a little too hastily for my liking. I blinked when the sun’s golden rays hit my face, and the birds’ loud songs stung my ears. Wearily, I pulled myself off my bed and slipped on my petticoat and cotton dress. The silence that seemed to reverberate through the cottage revealed my parents’ absence. They were undoubtedly gathered with the other villagers, peering curiously at the many marketable items.
“Well done, Maggie.” I muttered sarcastically to myself as the previous night’s events flooded my mind. “You deserve it too. You are just as bad as Hillaria and Dulcina.”
After I grabbed a slice of bread and drank a cup of milk for breakfast, I went out and checked the chickens, searched for eggs, and made sure the cow was fed and waters. I hope Peter is not blaming himself. I thought as I walked back inside.
I grabbed the wooden handle of the straw broom and began to sweep the dirt floor furiously. He had every right to go into the trader’s camp. I accompanied him in full knowledge that my father would not like it. For a moment, my heart dropped. I would not blame him if he decided to call off the courtship. This could be a rather hard blow to his good opinion of me. If this does not do it, I have plenty of other faults. I began to list them, lifting a finger as I did so. I have a nasty temper. He has not seen it yet, but he might soon. My curiosity is not necessarily bad, but it could definitely cause trouble. I am manipulative too, though that could be used to my advantage at times.
I winced as a sliver of wood from the broom embedded itself in my finger. Well done Maggie. I stated again, grimacing as I tried to remove the intruder.
As the day slowly drifted by, I busied myself with chores both needing and not needing to be done. I swept the floor till it was spotless, baked another loaf of bread, made another broom, and even cleaned some of the cabinets.
For most of the time my thoughts resided with very unhappy topics. They kept bringing me back to my mistake, which revealed another fault of mine. I had a worry wart within my mind, and it kept festering and growing. It was for only one moment near the end of the day when my thoughts took a slightly different turn. I suppose I do have Adonay. At least He has been providing me comfort. But with this realization came a rather nasty notion. If Peter were to leave, Adonay would leave too.
Maggie! I rebuked myself. That is not true…now is it?
A wave of relief swept over me when the front door opened, halting my troubling thoughts. My parents stepped across the threshold carrying bags of seeds, a few tools, and a couple sweet treats. My mother handed me two pieces of hard candy. “You will like them.” She promised. “I did.”
“Grammarcy Mother.” I forced a smile. “Did you enjoy yourself?” I glanced at my father, who was wearing a scowl on his face.
“Trouble.” He growled as he sorted through his goods. “Always trouble.”
“More stories about sorcery and magic, hmm?”
He glared at me when he heard the sarcasm in my voice. “An entire village was destroyed.”
“Some months ago. Nobody knows the exact cause. The people disappeared, no bodies, nothing. I say it was the sorcerers’ work.”
“And I will never believe the traders’ stories until I see it for myself.” I stated dogmatically. “A whole village? Please! They will be selling protective potions or something like that next.”
“You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about!”
“Do you? Do you really know anything about what is out there?” My disrespectful questions took my father aback. A small voice suggested that I close my mouth, but the words continued to flow off my tongue like bitter water. “Have you seen what these traders are talking about? Have you seen a sorcerer, or a Shrieker (whatever those things are), or anything of that sort?”
“Maggie,” my father said slowly, staring at me straight in the eyes. “You, of all people, should know that you do not have to see something to know that it is real.”
“What do you mean?”
“The God you have chosen to believe in.”
Blood rushed to my face. I had never mentioned Adonay to either of my parents. "How did you know about that?"
"Courting does not mean you steal away for hours on end. I have been watching.”
My mother stared at us in shock. “What is this about?” she asked. “What do you mean…?”
“You remember that Peter is an Adonite, Ella?” My father growled. “He has talked our daughter into it as well.”
“He has not talked me into anything.” I glared at him.
“You chose it, but you do not see it.”
“Because it is love! I chose it because I realized I did not have to fear like you. Besides, I think I see plenty of evidence for it. The land, for example.”
“But you cannot see this God, and yet you believe it.”
“What exactly are you saying?” I yelled. “Do you think just because I decided to believe in one thing I cannot see I have to believe in everything?”
“Can you at least understand why I believe what the traders say?”
“NO! I think you just want something to be afraid of.” I could stand it no longer. I stalked out towards the door.
The sun was far into the west, preparing for bed. The sky was painted in burnt orange, fiery red, and a hint of rosy pink. Shadows from the fir trees stretched and grew with each passing minute. Pale purple crocuses that spotted the green grass closed their soft petals. A chilly breeze swayed even the tallest tree. I could hear the babbling voices of traders and late buyers coming from the camp.
While stifling a groan, I turned away from the noise and instead went towards one of the oldest buildings of our village, the school. It was not magnificent in any way, only a one room, stone building that was usually used for elder meetings. We very rarely had teachers and students, but it still made the elder’s chests puff with air when anybody mentioned the school.
I tried to think of when we last had a teacher as I gazed at its gray walls and grass roof. I never had any teachers, except for my parents. They claimed they had a teacher when they were younger, which was why they knew how to read and write. Apparently that teacher only lasted two years before she packed her bags and went off over the Betach Mountains, never heard from again. Now the school was just a sign of our silly vanity.
I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes. The clean air cleared my mind, and the anger slipped away, leaving a sense of guilt. What was wrong with me? First the traders, now the disagreement with my father. Why could he not understand? He was being manipulated, made to fear so that he would do what the traders wanted. All those stories were silly.
He had a point though. I had willingly believed Peter when he told me his story. I had no reason to not believe him. But the idea of sorcerers was ridiculous. “They are just tricksters.” I muttered to myself. “Powerful tricksters, who can manipulate people. But for them to be able to destroy an entire village without any trace is utterly impossible.”
“Now what are you doing here?” I jumped at the sound of Dulcina’s sharp voice. I glared at her, and she narrowed her brown eyes in response. As could be expected, her black curls were in tight ringlets. I imagined she had taken a few hours to curl them that morning. Slung around her shoulder was a pouch, usually used to carry money and other useful things. “Are you changing your mind already? Do you want to be the next school teacher?”
“Absolutely not!” I snapped. I cringed at the sound of my angry voice. “Apologies, it is not the best of days for me.”
“I figured that.” She smiled, pleased with herself. “We missed you, but we saw Peter with his family. He did not look happy.”
“None of it was his fault.”
“I will believe you…if you tell me what happened.” She leaned against the wall casually.
“Please, Dulcina.” I groaned. “I am in no mood to entertain you.”
“Fine, how about I entertain you?” She pulled out a few pieces of jewelry, such as beaded necklaces and bracelets from the pouch. “From Shale.” She announced. “Timothy bought them for me.”
“Oh, you and Timothy are together then?”
“Yes, finally. He also bought me this.” She pulled out a glass vial from her pocket. “It is supposed to help me sleep at night.”
“Did you, by any chance, like the appearance of the seller?”
“I did not see him, but I cannot wait to try it.”
“Well, tell me all about it.”
“I will.” She flipped her hair back. “I am actually surprised that you are not with Peter.”
“I have not sought him out, and I thought it was him who was supposed to do the calling. Besides, a trading day is always busy.”
“I will not disagree with you there.” She paused. “Hillaria thinks you are going to marry him pretty soon.”
“I hope so.”
“I thought you would not want to stay around here for very long.”
“I would like to travel someday, but I do not think I would mind being here too much if I married Peter.”
“Would you?” I gave her an irritated glance, and did not answer her. To my surprise, she changed topics. “Can I ask a favor?”
“On the day of your wedding, can I do your hair?” She tugged at a strand of my dark, auburn hair. “It is so straight, and plain. It could use a little…improvement.”
“Now is really not a good time to ask me.”
“When would be a good time?”
Figuring she would not let the idea drop, I consented. “Fine, on the day of the wedding.”
“Grammarcy! In return, I will go tell Peter to wait until the morrow to meet you, since you had a nasty fight with your parents and are rather sulky. He was looking for you earlier.” She straightened up and began to walk away rather briskly.
“What? No! I want to talk to him! I will look for him myself…and how do you know I fought with my parents?”
“You were not there to trade, though your parents were. Either you are sick or there is another reason. You are obviously not sick, and usually the other reason is that you are in a disagreement. I will tell him you do want to talk to him, but that it would be best to wait till the morrow. Trust me Maggie, it is not a good idea to talk to your beau when you just had a nasty fight. If I were you, I would go back to your parents, make up for what you said, and be prepared for a brighter outlook.” With that, she turned a corner and disappeared.
Chapter 7 Flaws