Shelter - Eleyna Part III
Eleyna ran, blades of grass swishing
beneath her feet. Now and then she could feel small, sharp rocks piercing her
tiny, blistered feet. She had been travelling alone now for days. The sun rose
and went down and not much food could be found. Her stomach growled constantly.
She had found some fruit on some trees a couple of days ago which she had picked. Most she had ate greedily immediately, but some she had saved
and brought with her.
Her dress had shrunk significantly in size since the fall of Tripoli. Rags of it were now used as a backpack for fruit and at night as a thin blanket. Luckily she still had pants, the skirt of the dress barely covered her bottom, and at some parts where she had torn it unevenly, it didn’t.
She enjoyed running. Normally it gave her a sense of freedom. Now she pretended to be persecuted, with a subconscious fear that she might actually be. She didn’t know how far it was to Merceana, nor even to the next city. Maybe the monstrous Naeglim would have reached it before her… She felt her lips and cheeks begin to pout in anger and sadness as she thought about the bad guys that had killed her home. A cold wind swept the fields and she felt her eyes water. Two tears were released from her eyes. She panted for breath and walked for a bit. The tears slowly slid down her cheeks. The past was hard to leave behind. Moving forward with hope yet remembering what shaped you without feeling depressed was difficult. Everyone struggles with forward motion.
Her long, light-brown hair travelled freely in the wind as she began to run again. Suddenly, Eleyna spotted a farm house and some fields further away. She felt a smile creep across her face. She had found other people! A mature, pessimistic thought struck her. What if the people that lived there had been killed by the Naeglim already? Eleyna shrugged it off, allowing the hopeful child-part of her to win.
The sun had just begun its descent as she approached the farm house. It was a typical wooden, Tripoli longhouse. It was large and had many rooms for the different age groups to live in. In Tripoli it was custom that families lived together in one house. The parents had their own separate rooms while the children were split into age groups. Of course, Eleyna had lived in the city where everyone had their own house, but her parents had told her the customs many, many times. However, on farms, families generally lived alone, but in villages and smaller cities the custom still remained.
As she came closer she heard a cow moo and even a horse neighed. There were people! She looked to where she had heard the neigh and spotted a farmer driving the horse forward, ploughing the arable land. Eleyna’s fingers twitched and she could hardly keep herself from running out of excitement. She had found other people! She wasn’t alone anymore!
She tried to knock politely on the door but the knock became harder than what she had intended. A woman opened. She wore a brown apron with sooty black spots covering it everywhere, and in her hand was a hammer. Eleyna felt quite surprised. The woman was pretty broad shouldered yet still had a feminine, handsome appearance. Her chestnut-brown hair was bound neatly in a pony tail to not be in the way. A black, soot mark stained her cheek.
“Hello there, what are you doing here? Where are your parents, child?”
Eleyna just stared blankly for a moment before she recalled how to speak. She had not spoken to anyone for days. Her thoughts had been her only company.
“My name is Eleyna. My mum and brother died. My father died when I was young.”
“Oh poor child, I would embrace you, but my clothes are rather dirty. Although, so are yours, I dare say. What happened to your dress? Do you want come in? I’m sure I can find you some clean, old, small dress somewhere. Are you hungry? We’re having dinner in an hour, but I’m sure I can find you an apple or something if you want?” The motherly questions were pouring out like rain from a cloud passing over a mountain. As Eleyna bit into the red apple she felt how hungry she truly was. Her tummy made a loud noise and the woman smiled.
“You must be really famished! In an hour I’ll have some nice meat and vegetables prepared for you and my husband will come in from the fields. Where are you from?”
Eleyna ate and patiently told her tale as the woman listened intently.
“So Tripoli has truly fallen? I guess it’s only a matter of time before they come here then. For that warning you have definitely deserved your stay here.”
“What do you work as? I have never seen a woman so dirty before,” Eleyna said and then blushed after realizing that that could be taken as an insult.
The woman with the sooty apron was named Emmeline. She had been repairing some broken tools in the smithy and had been working on making a new pitchfork head.
“You’re a blacksmith?” Eleyna exclaimed, greatly surprised.
“My father was a blacksmith and taught me the skills. I’m not a great blacksmith but I can do all that is needed for a farm.”
“Isn’t that a guy’s job?”
“Why would it be that? Women can be blacksmiths too, just like men can be tailors and weavers.”
Eleyna had no answer to that. It was just abnormal seeing a female blacksmith. All the blacksmiths in Tripoli had been men.
“I enjoy the heavy work and it saves us some coins not having to constantly buy new equipment when it breaks. Often I help my husband out on the field, but today some reparations were needed, and there wasn’t too much work outside anyway. Let me tell you one thing child, don’t ever let anyone force you to believe that there is a profession that you cannot become. You are the master of your life and you are the one who makes the choices. Don’t always follow how things have 'always been'. Sometimes, traditions need to be broken. Anyway, you're still a young girl. You've a few more years before you meet those important decisions.” Emmeline looked outside and saw that sun had descended significantly. The shadows of objects were getting longer and longer. “You still hungry?”
Eleyna nodded eagerly.
“Good.” A big chunk of salted meat was taken out and Emmeline begin to chop it up into pieces.
Eleyna sighed with great satisfaction.
She had found a place to stay.
Copyright © Danai Gabre, 2008-12-23