The village at twilight was a peaceful place. Countryside ran further than any on two legs ever could, in all directions, breaking only for a few houses and the town square. Crickets promised a cold night and the full moon promised bloodshed, if only they knew.
Old woman Withers worked in her garden later than the others; though her eyes were blinder, her hands knew better the growth of the plants.
“It’s getting darker,” she called to Phillip and Suzanne who happened by. “And it’s going to be a cold night. Best to stay inside, locked in with the warmth.”
“Just you make sure to keep those plants from the frost. My work’s no good without your herbs.” Phillip was the local doctor; he met Suzanne many years ago when he reduced her boiling fever, and he’d been using Old Woman Withers’ herbs even then. They’d had a beautiful wedding – Spring, if Withers could remember what her eyes had seen. They hadn’t had children, but they’d cared for many.
“How old is Old Woman Withers?” Suzanne whispered to Phillip.
“You know, I think there used to be a song,” Phillip replied, tightening his arms around her arms and waist. “How many times does the moon turn ‘round? /How many times does the werewolf sound?/ When did God first plant the ground? /That’s when you’ve got Woman Withers.”
Suzanne laughed. Phillip had a sweet voice.
Savannah sighed and pictured that someday she’d be as happy as Suzanne, with a certain dark-haired husband at her side. Just thinking of Eric made her smile. She’d seen him earlier in the day at a distance. He worked alongside his father, George, the both of them deep-chested and strong. They hadn’t looked like butchermen, more like knights. What beautiful dark-haired children she and Eric would have, and perhaps one red-head like herself. Eric told her he loved her hair.
“Savannah! Come and help me with dinner.”
Her mother was a plump blonde with rosy cheeks and an easy smile.
“Take this to the table,” she ordered her daughter, handing off a bowl of potatoes. “You can’t spend all your time in doorways, whiling away about some boy.”
Savannah blushed. “How do you know I was whiling away?” She pinched her mother’s cheek until her hand was slapped away. “I could have been enjoying the breeze.”
“No one enjoys a breeze that bites them through. Besides, from what Mary says, the young and in love always while about in doorways.”
Savannah blushed a deeper red. Mary was Eric’s mother.
“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about,” Savannah said, lifting her chin. Her mother rolled her eyes and a cold wind swept trough.
“Thomas, close the door!”
“Aye, woman, I’ve only just stepped in it! Would you rather me on the other side?” He asked as he entered the dining room, smiling. He kissed his wife on the cheek. “Good evening, Sarah.”
Savannah looked away. How her parents didn’t have dozens of children by now, she’d never know.
“How’s town?” Sarah asked.
“The same as always, love. How’s home?”
“Better now that you’re home.”
“Get a hold of yourselves; I’m still in the room,” Savannah sighed. “But Father, no news today? There’s hardly any tell beyond our village.”
“Things are quiet, which is how I’d have them. Better it be hen-gossip than news, I say.”
“Hens don’t gossip, Tom,” Sarah chided.
“Oh?” he asked, one brow raised. “Then what would that be when you go to Gloria’s every other day?”
“Learning, dear. Exchanging secrets of soups and needle and thread, of course. Isn’t that right, Savannah?” Both women smiled.
“It’s true, Father.” What was true was that they gossiped idly about other women, places and things. Harmless, really, and they did sew.
“Women,” he grumbled. “You tell Gloria her husband owes me another game of cards- I’m sure he cheated last.”
“Father, surely not! You’ve just got no way about lying.”
Sarah laughed. “It’s true! How you fooled me into marriage I don’t know.”
“Not by lying. At least, not at first.”
Savannah looked at her parents and thought of Eric again. Before turning in to bed, she latched the door against the unusually forceful and cold night.