Katrina: Necessary Evil

In one movement, it was all over.

The sheriff’s corpse lay motionless upon the ground, ruby blood splattered all around as his own dagger protruded from his chest. Shock pulsed through me. I covered my mouth with my palm as if to cover a scream, yet no noise came. Indeed, I had seen blood and death in its own small way at the farm. With my brothers I had slit the throat of chickens with my own hands, among other duties which I had helped accomplish. But somehow, this was different. The life had left him, breath escaped him, his heart had stopped. What was once was there was now gone. Now he was no longer a person, his was an empty vessel, comparable to a slab of meat. I felt horrified; struck. If anything it proved how fragile life was, with a flick of Jon’s wrist he had ended the sheriff’s life. It frightened me more than anything to see it before my eyes.

The other girls appeared similarly terrified. In the tense moment, Jon gave us a slight smile-the least thing I expected. My alarm cooled, yet something of my terror remained, my thoughts lingered on death and its grasp, a breath which simply blew out the candle.

I took Jon’s arm nearest to me, and Nellie came to his other side. With Fram leading the way, we guided Jon to the back of the building. We all paused as we watched a pigeon flutter overhead. News from home, perhaps? My mind did not linger on it long; Jon was mildly injured, my open wound still barked at me in annoyance, and we could still be in danger. “Where do we head now?” I wondered aloud, trying to keep my voice quiet as possible. “How do we know were the others are at?”

“South, I presume,” Jon answered, gingerly touching his swollen jaw. No one asked him how he knew. “It should be near dark, and they will leave a lantern out, hopefully.”

Silently, we started on our way, searching for any sign they could have left. I maintained a firm hold on Jon’s arm, wrapping my own around his so that I could put my fingers around his hand. He glanced down to me, half smiling.


We crept through the village, weaving our ways down the back roads and trying to appear somehow normal to the occasionally passer-by. But mainly, even the larger street appeared empty. People were turning in early for bed.

One woman had said something of hiding her brother’s barn, which turned to be where the final choice was made to bunk, it appeared. Dusky darkness began to slip over the horizon, spilling into the sky. The stars started to dimly burn through. Farms spread their grassy fingers over the scenery, the flickering lights of farmhouse windows like golden eyes staring at us. It was not long walking along the country road--something about it felt homey--before we came upon a drive with a lantern placed at its end. Jon immediately bent and extinguished it, beckoning for us three women to follow him down the dirt path.

Another lantern was found at a large barn in the back. I shivered as I remembered the barn fire. It appeared too dangerous. But my eyes were tired, and I felt more safe with Jon here.

“Mother!” came a cry from inside before we even entered. The door was flung open the small girl who Nellie and I had saved from the fire earlier came running out. Fram cried out in return, running to embrace the child. I smiled as we watched them hug one another, the woman choking on her sobs as her tears flowed freely.


My eyes were heavy, yet I could not sleep. I rolled on my made-up bed of hay, staring into the obscure shadows to the arched wooden ceiling of the barn. The death of the sheriff haunted me. I was well-aware that it was a necessary evil. It was him or us. And I understood why Jon did what he did.

Emotions inside me ran in tangle of confusion; my thoughts crowded in a great tumult. They felt built-up, and clogged inside seemingly my heart, as if I required some sort of release.

 I sat from my position, looking about me in the darkness. I shifted my body and tried laying down again. Yet still, I could not find sleep.

This time I stooding, glancing about me. The rising and falling forms of the surrounding sleeping people were scattered about the main area of this stable. My eye caught a slight glow of golden light from the attic area. Was someone awake?

Curious, I quietly made my way to the ladder and slipped up the rungs, my shoulder twinging at the sudden movement. A single lamp burned, softly lighting the room. Jon lay sprawled with various letters in his lap, as if he had fallen to sleep reading. His saddlebag was tossed a little ways off by the lamp. After a moment of watching to make sure he was not wake, I tip-toed over and bent to smother the light. I briefly paused, my eye wandering to the contents of his open saddlebag, mostly filled with letters. Taking another look to him, I cautiously shifted through them. Somewhere in me knew I shouldn't be looking, but I was so curious. There seemed to be so many, all signed different names. Some were torn open, addressed to Jon himself, while others remained sealed and appeared yet to be delivered.

I did not touch the unopened ones, but could not help looking over several of the others. Picking up one of the top ones, I scanned through. No doubt it was filled with codes that I could not decipher, and signed mainly with mere initials, which were probably only aliases. Nothing large that I could tell from them. Yet my eye caught several of the final lines of one letter, written in a swirled, appealingly feminine hand:

‘….Still I wish you to return with all of my heart, missing you every passing day.

With my love,


“E.H?” I murmured softly to myself, a pang of anxiety reverberating through me. Who was E.H? I re-read those lines over and over. Then I decidedly began to pick over the complete contents of the letter. Just as every other letter, it was mainly useless talk. Talk of weather. Talk of walks. Asking of his health and the weather there. ’…with all of my heart….with my love…’ the lines remained in my mind. Who was this?

I closed my eyes, sighing. This was not the time.  I bit my lip and stuffed it back in the bag, refusing to look at it any further. This could be nothing. Nothing at all. Though the words carried such weight….such weight of sincerity and affection. I hid my face in my hands; shaking my head. I had to stop thinking about this, I scolded myself.

“Katrina?” came Jon’s murmur, his voice filled with sleep. I nearly leapt from my position, my heart suddenly jumping into my throat. He shifted on the hay, brushing aside the letters and sitting up slightly. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” I said instinctively. Of course he didn’t believe it. I lowered my gaze. "I saw the light and...came to check on you."

He furrowed his brow, sensing something off in my voice. Heat started to rise in my cheeks. “Oh,” he simply answered, looking about awkwardly.

I rose to my feet, inching away from his bag, uncertain of what else to do.

Jon stood, brushing off his clothes, and gazed at me warily. He came to my side, bending over to shift through his bag hastily as if making sure everything with still there.  

 “I’m sorry for disturbing you. Good-night then," I finally said.

As quickly as I could without appearing rushed, I made my way to the ladder. But before I could continue, Jon grabbed my arm.“Katrina, are you alright?” he inquired sternly, forcing me to look at him.

“Yes,” I said softly. “Tired, that’s all.”

He released me but continued, “You should’ve run today. When I say run, do not think anything otherwise and please do.”

“Run?” Something of anger seemed to pent up inside. “How could I have run?”

“What do you mean?”

“You were in danger….and you think I could just leave you?” I said, the volume increasing a bit. “If it had been me, you would have most certainly stayed, would you not?”

“Yes, of course, Katrina-,”

 Why would he think I would just leave him? My voice trembled as I stopped him, “I…should get back to sleep. Good night, Jon.”

With that, I turned my back to him and as fast as I could I climbed down the ladder and threw myself on my haystack-bed. All I could think of was that mysterious letter.

I shook my head. I needed to pull myself together.

The End

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