Get tangled and lost in a book!
You'll get out... eventually.
You'll get out... eventually.
Note: Old stories may not be continued, at least for a period of time
I swung my sack around as I strolled through the roads. The miller and his huge storage house were located in the town square, amongst the well-known shops just bustling with villagers. Already there was quite a crowd… more than I thought there would be. I was earlier than normal today, coming directly from the courthouse, and apparently, everyone else was to…
Peddlers were shouting out cheap deals and good food, farmers were calculating their wheat stocks, sweet smells wafted from the bakery… but I shouldn’t have been thinking about that. Rations! I thought. Think about rations!
A sick feeling rose up in me. Maybe I shouldn’t think about that either.
I stood next to the cow statue in the middle of the town square while waiting in line for rations. It looked really out of place: a big, brass statue of a cow, standing grand over the morning rush. There was also some bird poop on its head, which no one bothered to clean, in irrational fear that the cow would come alive and buck them off.
The cow statue’s name was Dottie, and it was commissioned by the local priests to honor these sacred animals, despite their violent tendencies. That was fifty years ago. A lot has changed about the public’s feeling toward cows since then. There had even been talk about removing Dottie from the town square and smashing her into useable metal (an idea I hoped would never pass, I’ve grown too nostalgic of this inanimate cow for that.)
“Hey! Boy! Stop holding up the line!” some guy yelled, presumably at me. I moved forward quickly.
The rations guy, Mr. Harris, always did his job alone, despite the huge crowd of people he had to attend to. He claimed it was because no one was competent enough. I reasoned it’s so he could feel like he had complete control of what was the center of everyone’s lives around here. Control the rations, and you control life or death.
I walked up to him when it was my turn.
“State your father’s name and occupation,” Mr. Harris said in a very monotonous voice as if he had done this a million times before… which he probably had.
“My father,” I swallowed. “Is Owen of Hawthorne farm.”
He narrowed his eyes but did not further say anything. Instead, he took my sack and disappeared into his storage house.
“You got what you deserve,” Mr. Harris came back with a measly looking sack and a nasty smile on his face.
He handed it to me, and I fisted the top of it, not wanted to spill even a speck of rations.
After all, I needed enough to trade for some pain reliever for my father.
I quickly got away from the crowd of people collecting around the mill, waiting for their turn. The medicine shop was pretty close by, just around the block, on a quiet and eventless street.
The shop itself differed from the street, for its bright red door and foreign style stood out among the many beige and white shops with few customers. Interesting inscriptions were embellished with gold paint on the walls, and a small pot of marigolds was placed near the crimson door.
Without entirely meaning to, I just stood there, looking at the marigolds, contemplating whether I should do this or not.
A warm voice shook me from my thoughts, “They have many uses.”
I looked up to find an elderly woman, who I could tell was still filled with fiery youth from the gleam in her eyes.
“The marigolds. They cure even the worst of coughs,” she gestured to the lovely flowers.
“Mmh,” I mumbled, looking down at my feet. My hands fidgeted with my rations bag, and the woman let out a little sigh.
“Well, I supposed you’re here to trade, aren’t you, not to talk about marigolds,” she says and opens the red door. A blast of an herb scent wafts into my nose, strong and bold. I stepped back, nearly sneezing.
“You like the smell?” She inquires. “It’s rosemary. Just like me!” She laughed cheerily and invited me in the shop. “Teagan, come on out. We have a customer.”
My heart sinks as I spot the familiar face of the last person I wanted to see; besides Farmer Kalor that is.
“Rosemary, Mrs. Juniper needs another one of your droughts for her son. He has a fever,” Teagan clutched a wrinkled note in her hand, not having seen me yet.
“Alright, dear. Tend to this young man for me, will you?” Rosemary left my side and went behind the counter, gathered some herbs, and disappeared into the back room.
“What may I - oh, it’s you,” Teagan frowned. She had finally looked up and was clearly not that happy to see me.
“I, uh, need some pain reliever pain reliever for my father. He’s sick,” I ignored the tension in the room.
“What is he sick from?” she asked, seeming concerned.
“The plague,” I replied.
Teagan’s face fell flat. She didn’t quite look sad, per say, just very serious.
“I have just the thing, but I’m afraid it won’t last long,” she said, scooping up a bag full of dried l and brown seeds. “It won’t cure him, you know.”
“I know… but won’t it help, even for a bit?
“Maybe. Painkillers don’t really do that.” She sounded different than in the mayor’s house- more caring like she actually wanted to help me. “But… if you’re really desperate… I think I know a way, but there’s no way to know for sure if it will cure him. It’s highly unlikely that it’s even real.”
What was it? Pixie dust? I was desperate, but did I really want to trust her?
We stand in silence for what seems to be an eternity before she shoved the bag into my hands. “Right, I’ll just take whatever you can give me,” she said. I nodded and handed her my small bag of rations.
“Um, thanks.” The awkwardness was thick, making it hard to think straight. “I guess I’ll go now.”
“I must go soon as well,” I saw her give me one last weird look as I shuffled away, and began walking home.
The road from the main town to my house was a good distance, enough that taking a horse or wagon would be acceptable, but a walk still wasn’t bad. (Not to mention my family sold our horse and wagon to pay off our debt since my father has stopped working).
There were two roads leading to the farmlands, one smooth and cobbled for the wagons and trading carts, and the other a slightly narrower dirt path.
I typically took the dirt one, so I headed along that way. I knew it was sort of dangerous, as it was near the meadows where the violent cows grazed, therefore bringing the risk of both catching the cow disease and being accidentally trampled.
But it was generally more peaceful and scenic, and I definitely needed that to calm me down.
Besides the usual field and tree patch, the one thing that stood out of the scenery was the town cemetery. It was gated with a handmade iron fence, cracked and embedded tombstones littered the dirt ground. Everyone who died in the town for the past eighty years was buried there.
I wiped the sweat from my face and sat down on a stone bench to just relax for a bit. I looked around the cemetery. So many new tombstones… because of the plague. To think, that my father could be buried here so soon? I shuddered. The bench suddenly felt really cold.
A faint clip-clopping sound jolted me from my thoughts. I glanced past the bush near me and saw a small figure riding a chestnut horse. As it trotted closer, I recognized the familiar face and gasped.
Kaylee C. (Cow Chron. and TSC)
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