Historical setting: 602 C.E. The cottage in the Vosges
This is the stage of my healing my sons seemed to fear most, when their papa is laying around the house, howling woefully and taking all their mother’s attention. May my howls be silenced by courage, since death is not my option. Thankfully my place in this house is in our back room where only Ana comes. I am out of sight of our children so not to tax their tender empathies and ruffle their fears.
Gabe and Greg are making a plan to return the baro’s horses to Metz, less the brown one they traded for the wagon. But even as I am now, I can still make the necessary demands on my children and it is my rule that won’t allow them to leave ten-year-old Simon with the full harvests of the oats and barley and straw and with the spring plowing and planting yet to do. We’ve already put things off and we’ve burdened that child with so many extra chores at this time. So now, the twins have employed their cleverness to go to our neighbors, who are hunters in the fall and winter, to recruit Charlie to help with the harvest in return for a worker’s portion of the grains.
In their teen-aged imaginations they see themselves riding off on horses, while neighbor Charlie leans on the hoe and wistfully watches them vanish heroically into the sunset. Charlie’s awe may only be their own fantasies. Were they to make the logical choice to also deliver the wagon that was traded for the horse, the white horse would have to pull the wagon and Greg would be like any other farmer, driving a wagon. So the wagon will stay where it is behind our shed.
I ask for them to come in here so I may hear this in their words. I haven’t really talked with them about any of these happenings. And now they seem fearful — maybe put off — seeing their papa helpless. Of course, in retrieving me from death, I was simply a pale thing that had been buried in the ground, not a living, breathing elder with an opinion. Now that I’m safely on the breathing side of life they are children again who aren’t always free to make their own choices.
“I’m sorry Papa.”
“We are both so sorry …”
“Why are you sorry?”
(Continues Tuesday, May 30)