Friday, 20 December 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013 -

Sky and Tiger

by John Benson
Published: Oct 08, 2013
Words: 23,711
Category: fantasy
Orientation: M/F
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Sky and Tiger

Mother was knitting. Anna mended socks. Typical Sunday afternoon. Father put down his ledger book, took off his spectacles, and massaged the bridge of his nose. He sighed.

"I've heard from Nickelovsky," Father said. "He's interested in a marriage."

Anna bristled. Nickelovsky was a drunk. "How nice for you," she said. "But aren't you already married?"

"You're not," Mother said. "And it's high time. You're being selfish, girl. Think of someone other than yourself."

The twins breezed in begging for a snack. They were told to go outside and play in a tone they recognized, and left without complaint. They were even careful to shut the door. Anna's back was up, though. She wasn't listening to verbal cues.

"This is the third time you've refused me," Father said. "You know what I told you would happen if I found three suitors for you and you refused them all."

Anna's blood turned to ice water. The Slut-peddlers. "But you wouldn't," she said. "It was just a bluff."

"There are bills," Mother said. She put down her knitting and was wringing her hands. "And I have three other children to consider."

Three? There were the twins and ... the knitting. Mother was knitting baby things. This was bad. Father might sell her because she had disobeyed. Mother would have been her champion, but not with a baby in the picture. In her world, new life always took precedence over old.

"Don't do this," Anna said.

Father rose. There was something in his hand. Shackles. "Choose quickly," he said. "Nickelovsky or the Slut-peddlers."

Anger trumped fear. They just cared about the money. The money they would be paid in return for signing a marriage contract, or in this case a bill of sale. "You can go straight to Hell," she said. "And you can take Nickelovsky with you."

He came across the room and jerked her to her feet. A shackle clicked around one wrist. She screamed and tried to wrench free. He pinned her arms behind her back. The other shackle clicked. She screamed. He stuck a sock in her mouth.

Mother approached with a scissors. She wouldn't look Anna in the eye. She touched a spot about mid-way from crotch to knee. "About there?" she said.

"A little higher," Father said. He was looking. His hard look, after his mind was made up and he wasn't going to change it.

"They can always take off more," Mother said.

"All right then," Father said.

Anna tried to spit the sock out. The scissors did its dirty work, making her dress too short to belong on anyone but a slave. At least it was all one color now. The generous hem which had been let down over the years to expose more fabric as she grew was all down on the floor. Mother retrieved it for her rag bag. Waste not. Anna tried to spit out the sock, just so she could curse.

"You were always too willful," Mother said. "Now look where it's got you."