marlawentmad (marlawentmad) wrote,
marlawentmad
marlawentmad

LJ Idol Week 17: The Rent I Pay

Agnes went down into the valley
carrying her bucket to the well.
Her gnarled hands complained, but
she had an appointment to keep.
Her mouth was dry.

The first year of the tithing
Agnes had a belly full of her
first boy and the fairies took
the cotton.

She felt the telltale pin pricks
of the fairy ring just as she approached
the well to draw the clear, cool
water up from the earth.
Her shoulders burned.

The second year of the tithing
Agnes had a belly full of her
second boy and the fairies took
the heather.

She was weary, and anxious because
the fairies' moods swung erratically
and she hoped this year they would
be kind and allow her to see.
Her eyes stung.

The third year of the tithing
Agnes had a belly full of her
first girl and the fairies took
the milk.

She sang the song, and she did the dance,
she brought the requested stone and she
sprinkled the correct herbs. She peered into
the water, and saw the bottom of the bucket.
She sighed.

The fourth year of the tithing
Agnes had a belly full of her
Third boy and the fairies took
the cheese.

She waited.

The fifth year of the tithing
Agnes had a belly full of her
Second girl and the fairies took
the butter.

She waited.

The sixth year of the tithing
Agnes had a belly full of her
Second girl and the fairies took
the grain.

Agnes cursed her ancestors' name,
then immediately felt the pang of
guilt because wasn't it the deal
they made with the fey which
brought her so much good fortune?
Her feet ached.

The seventh year of the tithing
Agnes had a belly full of her
third girl and the fairies took
the honey.

Her husband ignored the hushed whispers
from his customers in town about his
wife, and her mother, and her mother's
mother, and her mother before that,
until time un-remembered.

The eighth year of the tithing
Agnes had a belly full of her
fourth boy and the fairies took
the mead.

Even with everything the fairies
took, her expanding family was never
without bountiful harvest, fresh water,
and excellent health. The maidens envied
Agnes her vitality after all those births.

The ninth year of the tithing
Agnes had a belly full of her
hope and the fairies took
the sheep.

The moors were sticky with their
blood and it was the first time in a
long time Agnes shuddered as she thought about
the women in her family whispering, tithing,
their hands wringing fretfully.

The tenth year of the tithing
Agnes was late to meet the
Fairies, because her body
was in hard labor to deliver
her newest bundle of joy.
The midwife handed over
her fifth boy and her
heart swelled with pride.

With a shout, Agnes beared down
another surprise, and
the midwife handed over
her fourth girl.

The fairies came to her that night.
The midwife never spoke of it,
for she lost her tongue.

Agnes remembered the dark burgundy
blood on her hands and on her mouth,
the way it was almost black,
like the sheep blood in the grass.

Agnes took out her small knife and
sliced open her wrinkled palm,
full of lines telling of all the
lives she raised, and all the
time she missed with the tithing,
the tenth child, the twin, the
girl who had a brother who never
stopped asking about "his other self,"
a child's knowing of something he was
never told.

She made a fist and dripped her blood,
vividly red in the sunlight, in a circle
around the pail of water and she sang the
song again; she taught her boy this song.

Slowly, the image emerged, no longer a
yellow-haired child of spring, but the
full grown woman of summer, with flowers
encircling her forehead and a fairy court at her feet.
Agnes stayed for a long time, looking in on
her tithing child, with a belly full of hope.
***
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Tags: fairy, ljidol, tithing
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  • The Real LJ Idol * Season 11 * Week 1 : Resolution

    The way will not be easy. You must rest when you can. There will be moss to lie upon, soft against your cheek. You must thank it for its succor.…

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    Her bones cracked. She would groan, but the mud caked in her mouth, down her throat. Her tongue sluggishly pushed at the muck. It tasted sweet. She…

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    On the seventh day after the tithing was due, Maeve awoke with a heavy weight shifting from her chest to her stomach and back again. It made her…