A continuation from my Fantastical Adventure in the making!
In Part 1, Jedrek has been suitably abused and reflects upon his predicament and lifestyle in this village. Somebody familiar approaches and calls him by his name, which he doesn’t recognise until a good mental kick later!
Now without further adieu…
“Eh?” I blinked and focused my gaze on the person who had interrupted me with such common decency as using my name, and realised why that had been the case.
An older woman (perhaps in her fiftieth year, she would never say) was stood in front of my work stump, smiling at me the way she always did. It was the tiniest upward curving of her lips and slightly raised eyebrows which made me realise that she was amused by my tendency to get utterly lost in thought.
Her clothes were slightly dirtied by work, as always, a woven basket of undergarments held firmly in place under one arm. The place where the other one would be was vacant save for the flapping sleeve of her dress.
“Come now, Gerty, that ain’t true.” I grinned in response and left my work unfinished while I gave her my full attention.
“S’bout the truest thing about ya, lad.” She clicked her tongue against her teeth, eliciting that familiar ‘tutting’ sound.
Without much hesitation, she wedged the basket of clothes against her side with her singular arm and made her way round to one of the spare ropes to hang wet garments. Basket under her arm, she proceeded to hang the clothes up, and turned her head back to look at me while she worked. This time, there was a smile on her face that I didn’t recognise.
That was strange. In all my time knowing Ol’ Mother Gerty, I’d become very familiar with every larger-than-life expression and saying she used. But in what must be the ten years I’d known her, I had never seen this expression and smile before.
There was something… sad about it.
She looked this way and that, taking note of the empty village square and then fixing her gaze back on me.
“I ain’t got much time to explain, so I’ll make it quick.” She paused, looked over her shoulder again, looked past my head for the fourth time in a span of a few seconds. “Won’t be long until all of ‘em return from preparin’ lunch. Look, Jed… yer in huge danger.”
The way she said this, with grave seriousness in her eyes, etched across her weathered face… startled me. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen her to be serious, let alone this deathly serious, in my lifetime.
“Of the village folk? I know that they’re not my biggest fans, but if they wanted to harm me, they’d have done it by now.” My voice was hushed, feeling as if we were discussing some secret of huge importance. If the villagers could hear us now, they would not be happy.
“No, not them.” She all but snapped and faced me again, eyes pleading me to stay silent. “We jus’ can’t talk ‘ere. Promise to meet me after sundown i’ the Wildlan’s. Promise, Jed.”
I felt far too disorientated to refuse, to even realise what Gerty was asking of me.
“Alright, I promise.” I spoke my words firmly, hoping that she would take this to mean that I was going to keep this vow I had made.
Even though I had no idea what it all meant, or why I was making it.
“It’s about why yer an Advena.” She added, and all of a sudden, my previous confusion melted away into a million questions at once, mixed with unadulterated… elation?
No… I’m not sure that’s even the right word. There’s a certain kind of joy coming from a promise made to reveal information about a taboo subject, a way of keeping you pushed down as an outcast, and I couldn’t even begin to describe it as it surged through me in that moment.