A girl without influence wakes me. Her face, framed by two long braids, is the first picture that registers in my hazy mind. She is young enough to have clear skin, bronzed by time outdoors. I should know her name, but the morning has swept it from me. By the time my awareness returns, she has skittered out the door, her leather shoes whispering wind.
I am alone in the first light, greeted by stillness. I feel nothing, the same nothing I have felt for years. It is almost a comfort; almost a tragedy.
Low voices soon filter in from the outside, the same three men who take the back path each morning. Their conversations are predictable, but comforting. I sit up and ease to the edge of my bed.
“I’ve made thousands of mistakes, but I believe everyone has, and that’s how I live with myself.” This voice is Grath’s, the youngest, the least headstrong. He is hardly a man of age, and yet. A beat of silence marks a shift in conversation.
“You can feel the world turn today,” he says. “The wind!”
There is laughter, indulging him. I make a point to keep my eyes from them, but I hope he is spreading his arms like wings. Their voices turn to other things, to rains and harvests and families, and they continue beyond the point that I can hear.
The rising sun draws me out of doors, and I feel the wind dashing over my skin, too. A deep breath is all I need for now. Yesterday, when I walked out of this same door, I could not name the feeling as well as I can now.
Paths crisscross across the land near our home. We could have been in the middle of a budding town, but we are seated on the very edge, growing over. The straight and narrow path goes back the way we came, to the rest of the world. Mom spent months digging up that ground, but it trails into nothing. I turn to the other path. This one leads to the young town, and my feet begin up the trail.