Tuesday 16 June 2015

Tales from Virdura: Kathryn's Saviour

Kathryn sat on the front steps of their family's small farm, just outside Virdura Castle. She was staring wistfully at Marcus, working in the fields of the neighbouring farm. He was far away, but she could still see the cords of his bulging neck muscles as he bent down and dragged the hoe through the soil.
“Mama,” she said as an older woman walked up behind her and put her hand of Kathryn's shoulder, “One day, I'm going to marry that man.”
Kathryn's mother looked down at her and smiled. “That's nice, dear,” she said, “but right now, we should get back to work. Your father will be back from the fields soon, and he will want his afternoon meal.”
Kathryn and her mother, Iris, were standing at the fire, stirring a pot of gruel, when David stormed in.
“What's for lunch?” He sat down at the kitchen table and banged his fists onto the surface, growling like a bear. Kathryn cringed at the noise, and rubbed her hands together nervously.
“Gruel, dear,” said Iris, “and please stop making so much noise. You're scaring our daughter.”
David got up and screamed at his wife. “Well, she should grow a backbone, then!” In a flash, he was towering over Kathryn, holding her wrist in his hand. He twisted hard.
Kathryn screamed and pulled her hand away. She cowered in the corner, nursing her wrist.
David slapped her through the face. “Stop your snivelling, girl! You're never going to make it in this world if all you do is cry.”
His daughter stood up and scurried away into the adjoining room. David and Iris ate their meal in silence, while listening to the soft weeping coming through the open doorway.
The next day, Kathryn was leaning against the wooden log fence separating their farms. Once again, she was watching Marcus tilling his field, shirtless. She dreamt of the day when this muscle-bound man would sweep her up in his arms, and take her away from her abusive father. They would have children together, and she would love them and care for them, and they would never know the horror that she had to endure. Marcus would never beat them they way her father beat her. Of that, she was sure.
She was brought out of her reverie by the sound of someone calling.
“Hey, you there!”
She looked up, and saw Marcus standing, some distance away, waving at her.
Kathryn's heart leapt up into her throat. This man, the man she had loved from a distance for so long, had noticed her! Sheepishly, she waved back.
Marcus trotted up to Kathryn. “Hello,” he said. “My name is Marcus, what's yours?”
With that, Kathryn burst into tears.
That day, Kathryn told Marcus everything about her father and his abuses. She learnt that Marcus had been beaten by his father, too, but that one day, he had fought back, and beaten his father so badly that the man had to be sent to the healer. Marcus' father had never laid a hand on him again.
Over the coming weeks, Kathryn and Marcus would become closer and closer, sharing every detail of themselves and their lives. Kathryn even confessed to him how she had felt about him all those months. She had been desperately afraid that he wouldn't feel the same way, but he had.
She was happier than she'd ever been, and the day that the couple decided to tell Kathryn's parents about their engagement was a happy one indeed.
“Papa,” said Kathryn one day, after their evening meal. Marcus had joined them for the meal, and she clutched his hand for reassurance. “Papa, Marcus and I are getting married.”
Iris was overjoyed. She leapt up from her seat and wrapped her arms around her daughter. She sobbed, as she exclaimed how happy she was for her daughter.
David's reaction was a bit different. He, too, shot up from his chair, a dark glaze appearing over his eyes. “No daughter of mine will be getting married to a man like this!” He lunched forward, and it looked as though he was going to punch Kathryn in the face.
Marcus reacted instantly. He reached behind his waist, and grabbed the small knife that he always carried, out of its sheath. He stepped between Kathryn and her father, and plunged it into his chest. The man stopped in his tracks, clutched at the handle of the knife, and crumpled to the floor.
Iris immediately dropped to the floor and began stroking her husband's cheek. David spluttered a few times, and then fell silent.
Kathryn's mother stood up, faced her daughter, and slapped her through the face. Tears were streaming down her own cheeks, as she screamed at her daughter and her new fiancé.
“What have you done?” She continued to pound her daughter's chest as she continued. “Get out! Get out, and don't ever come back! I never want to see the two of you again as long as I live.”
Seeing that there was no arguing with Kathryn's mother, Marcus grabbed his beloved's hand and pulled her out the door.
They ran, as far as their feet could carry them.
Iris never saw her daughter again.

If you'd like to find out what became of Kathryn and Marcus, read my fantasy short story, A Petition to Magic.

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

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