The Roar of the Sun (II): Maribeth

Entry II

We lost Maribeth during her tenth winter.
Frozen lake, soft spot in the middle–she plunged through with no goodbyes.

The men fished for her with their gaffs, but when the soft purples touched the stone-gray
clouds, they knew Maribeth was no longer a member of the flesh and blood family. Little was
said that night around the fire. We slurped our leek soup with little relish; ate our hard bread with no happiness; we let the winter steal our hearts that day.

Spring would eventually come, and the girls of the village paid one last respect to lost Maribeth. We threw bouquets of daffodils into that damned pond, and offered up scant prayers to her eternal rest. Some of our number, the older girls, had already forgotten the little brown haired girl. She was lame since birth, club foot stumbled her walking. In her life she received pity, but in her death the oblivion of willful forgetfulness was gladly heaped upon her memory.

And when Maribeth appeared behind me tonight, her pale arms, stringy brown hair, and flour-sack dress dripping wet from her death, I had no words for her. What do you say to the long dead effigy of your girlhood?

Maybe it was yet the heady brew I had swallowed many days (I assume) past; maybe my mind was forever victim to the crone’s distilled recipe of rare herbs, dried fungus? The sight of my childhood was far too gruesome to take in–I closed my eyes to her watery yellow pupils, the tattered lips torn and ripped by hungry fish.

"Isobella! Remember me?" said the little girl in my head. She was there just as I remembered, the day before she fell through the ice. Slump shouldered, favoring her right leg, patchwork doll under her arm, all smiles and sunshine.

"Yes, Maribeth," I thought to the dream, to the specter? "I cast King’s Spear flowers upon your grave. I missed your humor during that long hard winter."

–There was silence now; Maribeth’s smile widened in my head, chin shyly tugging downwards. "How do you like being dead, Isobel?"

The question was odd.
Ice shot down my spine.

"I’m not dead," I said, opening my eyes–forgetful of the cadaver before me.

"Yes, yes you are." Maribeth pressed. "The crone poisoned you. You were offered up for sacrifice the very night of your poisoning, though you were still in body. I was there. I was watching you. I have always watched over you."

Had I not been underground at this time in the hellish cellar of the Black Fox, I wouldn’t have panicked, wouldn’t have turned from the walking corpse–the humming laughter swelling in my head. I would have, I hope I would have, waved my dagger through the raw, thin air before me, hitting no obstacle–no rotten, wet flesh.

But maybe that’s why I ran.
I knew my dagger would have spliced open wormy, white flesh.

Yes, I ran because some part of me, perhaps down deep in my heart, knew that Maribeth was fresh from the grave, the watery footprints I followed back topside–real. Aye, perhaps I knew when I ordered that tankard of wine in the Black Fox and drank until I could fear no more…or did I mean: feel?

Sleeping tonight?
Tall order.

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