May 31, 2010
Hi. Tim’s skipped off to London to the Expo convention, where he can’t comic. So I’ve written a little filler to entertain you until he comes back (presuming he survives).
Her emerald eyes were clouded by the tears, becoming bloodshot and steely. Her cheeks were red, and stained with the tracks of old tears that she could not bring herself to wipe away. Her dress was muddied and, in some places, torn, from running. There was a time when she would have cared. The wind whipped and tugged at her long, fiery hair, cooling the sweat on the nape of her neck, biting her skin and putting the foul taste of salt in her mouth. She looked out, over the cliff edge.
She didn’t look down, to the rocks below, where the sea threw itself, only to be destroyed. That was nature’s eternal affair of passion, and one that she could not stand to see now. She didn’t look into the murky depths of the water beyond, or at the tumultuous, blue-grey sky overhead. If she had, a mind as sharp as hers would no doubt have commented that, were it a painting, she would think it fashioned in the hard, heavy strokes of a madman. The idea that the world around her were controlled by some demented spirit certainly seemed to ring true to her, but she wasn’t in a state to philosophise. No, instead of looking at the scenery, or even around the tall grassy verge that she found herself on, she stared out at the thin band of gold that separated sky from sea.
As the last streaks of sunlight began to recede over the horizon, she willed herself to keep crying. If her thoughts could flow like water, then, perhaps, she’d feel a little better. But she couldn’t cry anymore; she’d been sobbing for nearly three hours… one half hour for every year she’d known him didn’t seem enough.
He was the one that had brought her here, away from the place she grew up. Few of her family had survived the journey, and setting up a new life on this blasted, cursed island hadn’t been easy. But she had been in love. It may not sound like a valid excuse, but body and mind will do amazing, ridiculous things for the sake of love. Her travelling to this island in her condition was enough example of that, but he… Theo… had told her not to worry. He would care for her, he would give her all he could, she wasn’t just his wife now; she was mother of his child. She should have known then that the happy family routine wouldn’t last. But, again… she was in love.
On the day he had gone to the war, he had gathered up all his scrolls and crystals and powders, then kissed little Brigitte on the forehead, holding her close. She was only a few months old then, but had not escaped the life-changing effects of war.
“My child, my dearest child…” Theo had crooned, holding her to his chest, his scruffy black hair falling into his eyes as he looked down at his daughter. She had looked up at him with her shining eyes, the same emerald green as her mother, but with a shine of new, youthful optimism her mother hadn’t had for some time. “Leaving you this way saddens me so. But I have my reasons. One day, when you’re old enough, I promise I’ll explain to you all I can… no matter where I am, or how I am, my sweet, my spirit will always be with you.” Perhaps sensing her father’s sadness, a fog of confusion and worry had begun to cloud the little girl’s eyes. Her father, forever enchanted by his daughter’s whim, as many fathers are, had delved into his bag and produced a brilliant green crystal, like none the woman had ever seen before, in a small wooden cage. Little Brigitte’s eyes shone, any vestige of worry gone as this sparkling toy distracted her. Theo had rested his daughter in her crib, her tiny fingers wrapped tight around one of the wooden bars that encased the green stone. Theo’s brown-eyed smile had shone down at her, his scruffy black hair falling in front of his face once more, tickling her slightly as he kissed her forehead once more. At that point, he had turned to his wife, her cheeks flushed with indignant anger that almost concealed her terrified fear.
“No.” She had shook her head, her auburn locks tumbling down from where they had been loosely pinned at the back of her head. “No, you can’t go.”
“I have to go…”
“No you don’t!” She had hissed, then, casting a wary eye at the dozing form of her daughter, she had walked outside, not wanting to upset the child.
“Astrid!” The voice cut through her thoughts, and landed Astrid back on the cliff top, staring out into the turbulent oil painting that was the rapidly darkening seascape. Fresh patches of red flushed her cheeks. Her last memories of her husband, the only way she had to see him again, interrupted. Yet, she didn’t turn. She just continued to stand, still as the rock beneath her, hair swaying like the wild grass at her feet in the wind.
“Astrid, you come away from there!” The old woman approached, white hair bound tight around her head, face permanently tanned through years of travelling and labour. She clutched a bundle, wrapped in peach coloured rags, tight to her chest. “Come away or you’ll fall.”
Astrid said nothing, but a petulant “good” echoed in her mind. However, she remained silent. She remained still.
“I can’t believe you’d even come here… leaving your child alone in the house, why… what in all the gods’ names where you thinking? I can’t believe any granddaughter of mine would be so… so selfish!”
“Selfish?” Astrid turned now, eyes wide and cheeks hot with indignant fury. It felt good. She wanted anger, she wanted sadness, she wanted something… something to create a scene, to make her active again… “You think I’m being selfish?”
“Would I have said it if I didn’t?” Her grandmother’s tone was cool, but edged with a steely warning. Usually Astrid would take this to remember her manners, but she didn’t care anymore. She needed someone to argue with.
“I think I’m allowed a little time to myself, don’t you? I think I’m entitled…”
“You aren’t “entitled” to anything, missy.” Her grandmother snapped, rearranging the bundle so it sat against her hip. “You’re a mother now, and that’s all there is to it. No matter what happens, she is your first priority. If you feel sad, if you feel angry, or happy, or wronged or confused or like roasting a pig, none of that matters. She’s going to take all her cues in life from you.”
Astrid went to respond, but could think of nothing to say. A brief sob caught in her throat, as she felt the tears begin to sting her eyes again.
“He’s gone, grandmamma…” She managed t whisper, before sinking to her knees, clutching the stable earth in her hands. She hadn’t actually said it out loud until now. Since the messenger came this morning, she had run and hidden, lost in her own thoughts but never vocalising them. Finally admitting it made it seem so real, it knocked all the wind out of her.
Her grandmother seemed to soften, walking closer and sitting down beside her.
“All the more reason for you to stick around.” She handed Astrid the bundle, before pulling her closer and kissing her on the forehead. “I could handle telling my great granddaughter why her father died for her right to walk free, but explaining to her why her mother died for love? That wouldn’t be an easy conversation.”
Astrid didn’t respond, but smiled weakly as tears began to roll down her face, staring at her daughter.
Her daughter, who would grow up being told that her father died in the war against Emperor Conrad.
Her daughter, who will be raised, nurtured and trained to defend herself and the rights of others.
Her daughter wrapped in peach coloured cloth, with brilliant green eyes and slowly growing tufts of black hair.
Her daughter, Brigitte Morg’han