~ A Simple Life ~
I opened my light hazel brown eyes to see the ceiling of broken, dark oak planks of wood, which faintly creaked above me. I turned my heavy head to my right. The sun shone brighter through the window sheets than I witnessed on most mornings. I closed my eyes again and smiling to myself, I listened to the chirping songs of the little red birds outside.
I jumped to sit up in my low bed with a jerk, and pulled back the bed covers frantically. It was late! I yanked down the brown, black, grey and white striped soft sheets from the wall, releasing them from the two thick, large and annoyingly crooked nails, that pierced through the sheets and into the stone wall. I was right. It was past dawn. Way past dawn. The sky was filled with the sun's gleaming light and touched almost every surface of the meadow below. I scrunched my eyes, as my neck stretched higher and I looked up to the heavens. Its usual pink and purple ink washed in the sky, was a pale blue and instead of its faint surrounding golden glow, was the hint of floating white clouds.
I quickly turned to find my brown dress on top of my chest drawer. I let it drop over my head, roughly pushed my arms through the wrist length sleeves and pulled it down, below my ankles. I then slipped into my sleeveless over garment, a pale green dress, which fell just below my knees.
I could hear mumbling coming from the kitchen. A deep grumbling sound, which was my father's and…I recognised her voice. I'd know it anywhere. It was my Aunt Adelaide. My father's older sister. I smiled. What did she want to lecture father about this time? I pressed my right ear gently against the kitchen door, whilst clearing the locks of dark hair from around my ear.
"She is no more a child, Aldrich. You must think of her future."
"But Adelaide", I listened to his voice soften, "She is my baby."
"And she will remain a baby." Silence. "How old is she Aldrich? How much longer will you keep her under your roof? Isn't it time you start looking for her, a suitor? There aren't many young lads left in the village, that are around her age. It will be wise to make a decision whilst we still have options."
"Sister, she is no burden to me. She is my little princess. My baby girl…" He coughed at that and continued. I stood on the other side of the door, but I knew Aunt Adelaide's eyes would have popped out at that statement.
"Sister, she is only eighteen years…today!" Another pause. I pressed my ear in impossibly closer to the door, my right cheek squished against the bristly rough wood.
He cleared his throat before proceeding, "It is her birth celebration today. Please, do not bring this into discussion, at least for today. Let the girl be happy."
"She is no girl Aldrich, but a grown woman."
I listened carefully to Aunt Adelaide's groan, but then she melted, like she always did.
"Alright," she sighed, "but you will think about it, won't you? My niece will not remain a spinster, whilst all the other girls are settled. Understand?"
I stepped away from the door. Now that that was settled, I searched the room for my shoes and yanked them on. I was already late, so in a hurry, I quickly slipped into my only shoes, small and black, with the sides scraped with dry mud.
I awkwardly hopped on one leg as I tried to tie the strings on my shoes.
"Caw… Craww… Craww." The black crow, which lived in my ceiling hole, suddenly whooshed over me, viciously flapping its wings, it squawked its screeching cry that sent me tumbling against the door. My back hit the door as I pulled my arms over, to cover my face.
I looked up. The crow gently landed on the top of the ceiling. Its little black claws curled over the edge of the ceiling hole and it looked down at me, squawking once more. I shook my head and sighed.
The door swiftly opened with my back still resting against it, with which I fell halfway to the ground, where I felt intense pressure on my left ear. I looked up. Adelaide caught me, pulling me by the ear.
"Aldrich! What is this?! Is this what you have taught her? Eavesdropping on your elder's talk." She looked at me, her eyes wide open and then turned to her younger brother. "Didn't you teach her any manners?" I flinched due to the sting in my ear, from her tight grip. Father remained quiet.
"What do you have to say for yourself young lady?!"
I held onto her small, but strong hands, "I'm sorry Aunt Adelaide. It won't happen again," I pleaded, flickering my big eyes at her and she released her grip.
I turned to look at father. "I'm sorry I woke up late father. I didn't realise how far past dawn I had slept. I didn't even hear the rooster's morning call." He smiled and pulled me into his bulky, but comforting arms. I inhaled the scent of flour from his dusty old shirt, which had far too many tears and loose threads hanging of it. He must have been baking bread.
"It's okay dear. There wasn't much there to it today. I did what chores were left. Princess, would you accompany me with fishing today? I know you enjoy it."
"Yes father," I looked up at him, filled with enthusiasm. Fishing was my favourite thing to do with my father. It was our time to spend alone from the rest of the world.
"You are eighteen today," I smiled. "My daughter has grown up to become a beautiful woman." I could see tears filled up in his eyes. He purposely didn't blink, so that they would not fall. "And someday…" he turned, grinning, to look at my Aunt and then back at me, "…you will become a wonderful wife and mother too."
"Father," I not so seriously, gasped. I felt my face begin to heat up and redden. I knew he was just teasing Aunt Adelaide, but this wasn't wise. Aunt Adelaide started at it again.
"What's wrong with that?!" She eyed me as she noticed my reaction, which read not interested. She walked over to me and placed her little hands on my higher shoulders. "Why do you object Wesley?" She was upset, even father stopped joking now. I looked away from her, playing with my amulet, which hung around my neck. It belonged to my mother, before she passed away seven years ago. I never took it off.
"Dear, tell me what you don't like about him? You two were the best of friends, but you objected to marrying him. Why did you do that?" I shook my head, my dark strands of hair shaking around my face. I wanted her to stop. Aunt Adelaide had a soft side to her, that had just as much a powerful effect as did her tough side.
"Aunt Adelaide?" I paused. She continued to stare at me. I looked down at my shoes, scraping them softly against the cold, stone kitchen floor. "I think of him as my friend, a companion. Almost like a brother. I could never see him that way." She turned away from me, disappointed. "Aunt Adelaide, please," she looked at me. On seeing my sympathetic eyes, she smiled a little. Just a little, but it was enough for me. I ran to her and wrapped my arms around her. "Aunt Adelaide?"
"Yes dearie," she replied, rubbing her little hands along my long, dark locks of hair, which draped down to my elbows.
"I love you." She smiled. I couldn't see her face, but I knew she was smiling and she hugged me tighter.
"Murielle!" she scolded lovingly. "Now, will you be trying to make your poor Aunt cry? Believe me my dear, it is a sight you do not want to have to see." She let go of me and continued smiling. "Okay brother. I must take your leave. I have to go to the market now and have plenty of work to be getting on with." Father, with his hands clasped behind his back, pursed his lips and gave her a single nod.
"Murielle my dear, stay your joyful self," she smiled and held my face in her palms. "I will see you tomorrow," and with that, she walked out the front door and disappeared into her old black and grey carriage. The corners of the carriage had black carvings of the rose flower and I watched as Wesley, her supposed son, pulled the reins, for the horses to move forward. Aunt Adelaide raised him ever since she found him as a baby, stranded on an empty road, by a toppled carriage. She loved him dearly, as she did I.
He avoided any eye contact. I knew why he avoided me. I knew why he didn't come inside alongside my dear Aunt. But I didn't question it. I wished it would be the same again. I wished we would be the same. Like we used to be. We were the closest of friends, since we could barely speak, until Aunt Adelaide came to ask for my hand in marriage to Wesley. He stared straight ahead. My eyes stayed locked on him, but he didn't look at me. And I didn't dare to call his name. I swallowed. My heart pounded against my chest and I took in a deep breath and sighed. It hurt. My heart hurt. It pained me, thinking of how things changed so quickly between us. My once best friend had now become a stranger to me.
The cold breeze blew through his dirty blonde curls, which sat neatly on top of his head. I watched the carriage move away, jolting up and down from the bumps on the rocky road.
I shut my eyes, the cold air gently brushed my face and I looked up at the sky. Grey clouds formed a bed of shadows, which hovered over the land below. My fingers slowly curled around my amulet.
"We should go fishing now," my father said as he came to stand behind me. "It looks as though there will be a storm coming."