The room was dark and lively, with a strong scent of ale. Shouts flew toward the tavernkeep’s pretty wife. “Where are you really from, Sarie?” It was an old game, one they never tired of.
“My mother was a Xemish pirate,” she called across the room while wiping up a spill. “She was shipwrecked in the southern sea and I was raised among the Synalei.” Snorts of laughter, hoots, and careless splashes of ale greeted her latest outrageous lie. “Why do you think I’m so good at telling the weather?” she demanded with exaggerated innocence.
“Don’t believe her for a second, boys. She came here straight from heaven!” Her husband seized her by the waist and buried a kiss in the crook of her neck.
She laughed, and put a hand up to his hair. “You heard the man. He’s the authority here.”
The results of that were, as she expected, lewd. She flipped her skirts at them, swept an armful of empty tankards up, and swept off to the kitchen. She dumped the tankards reflexively into the basin for washing, and then stood, hand resting on the edge, and sagged.
She was married. What had she been thinking? She scrubbed at her face in frustration. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time, a good place to land, to spend a few decades among people who liked her even if they didn’t know her. Someone who could love a piece of her while she did what she had to. And she’d been happy, happier than she’d been since the day the city where she’d been born had become a name that could never be spoken. The one thing that could keep her from staying had never occurred to her. Their birth rates were so low, and she was so young. It had never even crossed her mind.
Her hand curved protectively over her abdomen. He hadn’t noticed yet, but he would soon enough. And then he’d look for her if she disappeared, and not stop looking. An errant wife was one thing, but… She closed her eyes as his voice carried through the doorway, and allowed herself to picture, just for a moment, how he would take her leaving.
She turned away, lifting her chin defiantly against the tears. He wasn’t what mattered any more, and neither was she. That game might never find the truth, but once they saw the baby, there would be no question. That was the only thing that mattered now. There was no more time, and nothing left but the baby.
She wiped her hands carefully on a cloth, dropped it on the table, and walked out the back door.
This week, I’m taking my first pass at Write On Edge‘s Red Writing Hood challenge. The prompt calls for up to 450 words inspired by the following Robert Frost poem:
The Secret Sits
We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
This is part of the same series as The Fall and assorted other prompt responses that I should probably link together. I’ll get on that! Thanks for reading.