Richard and I return to our work tending the water cows. The church takes a little of the money my father had. Father’s debtors
are too afraid to acknowledge any relationship with him, so we are permitted to keep the rest. Everything else we had didn’t mean
anything. I scan our small cottage: flimsy cots, tattered towels and dented wooden cups.
Mother is filling a bag with her spices by wrapping the delicate containers with the cushion of our raggedy clothes.
“What’s going on?” I ask, but I already know.
“In the last few months, I’ve been praying and sprinkling blessings,” she says without looking at me. “But it’s not safe. Never will be. In
Turbid Orilon Lake, everyone will burn to their death. By fire or by sorrow.”
I nod, pick up an empty potato sack and start shoving my clothes
“Your father had it coming. If we stay here, we will too. It will be our fault.” She shakes her head. “When I prayed, the holy spirits told me that the priests will never let you marry Richard. They said they’re going to marry you to the toothless guard in the spring. I’ll end
up someone’s third wife. Louis will be an unwanted stepchild. There’s nothing good for us here.”
The thought of being the toothless guard’s wife causes my limbs to tense. “Absolutely, never ever!”
Mother nods in agreement, and Louis raises his head as if to check if I’m all right.
“Louis hasn’t finished his education yet. How can we take care of ourselves?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” she says, opening and closing her hands in frustration.
“All I know is the holy spirits say we aren’t safe. We’ve got to leave immediately. We listen to God, and she will take care of the rest.”
“Are we going to the towns beyond the lake and mountains? I don’t want to raise my child here.” I place my hand over my belly.
“Your child?” Her largest crooked tooth pokes out as she smiles
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