Something sparked in you, Diana. You’re letting it change you. Take you over,” Mother said.
I shake my head. My lips narrow, and the corners of my mouth turn downward. Dulcitius of Marburg sent his servants to notify the commune that we are to meet in the courtyard in the morning. We all will be required to watch the trial. For some reason, I assumed Father would be burned at the stake, which always happens in the field. When they tell us to meet at the courtyard, that usually means they’re going to torture the accused on the large wooden stage or boil them alive in an oversized cauldron.
“Why are they taking Father to the courtyard instead of the field?” I ask.
Mother pauses in thought before putting away the last of our wooden bowls on a shelf. “I think because he’s being tried for more than just heresy. You said he raped, murdered and spoke with demons, right?”
“I can stop this. Tell them I don’t remember anything anymore.”
Mother bites her lip and shakes her head, her breath quickening.
“Why? You feel sorry for your father? Have you finally found some love in your heart for him?
“I always had love for him.” I pause and correct myself. “I always had hope. You know, that he could love us back. At least not hate us. That things could be different.”
I glance to Mother, then to Louis who is resting on his cot, carving a water cow out of a piece of wood.
Mother shakes her head. Her hands are busy cleaning the cottage. She stops and looks right at me as her rag falls to the floor. “Don’t
fight it,” she says, her hands trembling. “Don’t push down your anger. Your pain. Don’t be like me.” Her voice strains. “Don’t you see
where it got me? I can’t get away from him. What type of a mother am I?” She twitches, and I can tell she is fighting back tears. “I can’t protect my own children.”
I don’t remember ever seeing her so wretched
“My greatest fear is that you and Louis will see what a dull coward I am. Hate me for what I’ve done. What I couldn’t do.” She wipes
her brow and lets her tears fall.
“Your father got dealt a losing hand. I was put onto him.” She nods, then pauses, wipes her sleeve across her face. “Uglier and more
senseless than his first wife.”
I open my mouth to speak, but she holds up her hand, silencing me. She shouldn’t talk about herself like this. None of this is her fault.
A wife has no protection against a husband’s will.
“If he had gotten a better deal, he would have been a better man. A better father. He’s not a bad person.”
“Not a bad person?” I break in. “You know what he’s done. To all of us. To my baby.” My voice trails, and heat rises from my core.
“When bad things happen to good people, they can change,” Mother says, her voice higher pitched. “I saw that in your father’s eyes. I see
it in you, now.”
“What does that mean? I don’t understand what you want me to do.”
“I’m not going to make your decisions. You are strong.”
“No, I’m not.”
“But you are. You can be.” Her tears stop, and she meets my gaze. She pushes a frizzy lock of hair behind her ear. “I can’t fix my
mistakes. I’ll be damned, though, if I watch you make the same.”
She comes toward me and opens her arms. I fall into them. I need her. Despite everything, I never doubt my mother’s love for me. I am
never sure, though, if she loves herself.
“I want you to do better than me. Be better,” she whispers and kisses the top of my head. “Don’t you ever let anyone put out that spark
in you. Control you.” She squeezes me and gives me a shake. “Do anything but be like me.”
She holds me away and tilts my head up with the palm of her hand. “All I know is fear and love. Fear of everything and love for you
and your brother.” She wipes a tear from my eyes with her thumb. I didn’t realize I was crying.
“You’ve got to know more than me! Know some courage. Know some faith.” She pauses, then says coldly, “To know when to stop
feeling sorry for those who don’t deserve it.”
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