The end of her childyears were small slices of sensory images. She ne’er knew what slight smell or tiny sound might take her there. For even as she was in the alehouse hearing Mattersond, the bar keep speak of his boldness, she was also upon the beach, left to play while the elders fished for salmon on the tide. The air was salt-tang, cries of seabirds, sloosh of waves skittering back across pebbles.

She was bubbling with laughter, watching a crab scuddle sideways when a woman scooped her up, saying “Hush. Tis the hiding game.” She was set down in a tall clump of sea grass. “Keep this close,” a leather pouch was shoved into her tiny hands. She clung to it as cracks like thunder, gull-like shrieks cross the sand.

When there seemed an endless silence, she raised herself up, and toddled out onto the beach. Sea diamonds danced the horizon. Her people were sleeping; the sea rushing up would wet them if they did not waken. She tapped the nearest on the shoulder, then pushed against the woman’s chest. There was no response. It was then she noticed how her hand was scarlet-red and a sickly-sweet order filled her nostrils. She was marked by her first awareness of blood, and of death.

Just at the surf line, column of men on horseback rode by speaking words she did not understand. One broke from the others and scooped her up, placing her on his saddle so that her face was pushed into the rough wool of his uniform. She had no last vision of her home place. A lack which haunted her still.

He was her protector among the Riders. She was allowed to hold her pouch as another child would a doll. Sensing she did not comprehend his words, he pantomimed appeals to eat and drink. He wrapped her in warm fur when she shivered against the cold of night. And, when she was given to the Cadre, he gifted her a small child’s knife with intricated patterns etched into the hilt. She used it still as her quill knife. With a smack, she was back at the beginning of her revelry, considering Mattersond’s offer to pour a cup of ale.


Your prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “the beginning, the end.” Write about the beginning of something and the end of something. Bonus points if your first sentence contains “the end” and your last sentence contains “the beginning.” <– Read that again. Have fun!

caveat: some soc, some cut and paste from earlier drafts (mental and written) . . . as usual, a little rule breaking . . .

also: jusjojan 28th: beach;  #cyw: scarlet

For a list of previous tales from the alehouse installments, see: Mattersond’s decision

2019-2020 SoCS Badge by Shelley!