Fiona was carrying the picnic basket. Come to think of it, Fiona was always carrying the picnic basket. Every little outing they went on, she tried to assign the job to one of the younger girls, and yet, somehow, every time, she ended up stuck with it while the others pranced ahead, collecting pretty autumn leaves and chasing after the year’s last remaining butterflies. It wasn’t fair.
Not that Fiona was the type to collect leaves and chase after butterflies anyway, but the point remained…
The problem with the picnic basket was that there was no convenient way to carry it. Yes, there were handles, but they were rough and rubbed on her palms, and every time she took a step, the basket would bounce against her leg, leaving linear bruises on her thigh. She tried cradling it in her arms, but it was too bulky and awkward. If she held it too low, it made her back sore from hunching over. If she held it too high, she couldn’t see over the Rezyn-damned thing. If she held it anywhere in between, it pressed into her corset and made it even more difficult to breathe than it already was.
She would really rather not go picnicking at all. But the little girls wanted to go every time the sun came out, and since Fiona was twenty years of age and unmarried—thus an old maid—and since it was generally assumed that because she didn’t have a husband to attend to, she must not have anything better to do, she always ended up on chaperone duty. Carrying the picnic basket. The Rezyn-damned picnic basket. She had been here in Carviliet for four days now, and had lugged the bloody basket to and from just as many picnic sites.
On the bright side, there seemed to be a storm coming in from the north, judging by the clouds she had seen gathering on the horizon. Most likely, there would be no picnicking tomorrow. She allowed herself a small, evil smile at that thought and transitioned the picnic basket to the other hand.
Bump, it declared, starting a new welt in her thigh. Bump, bump.
They decided upon a small clearing, which, in the spring or summer, must have been a lovely little meadow. Right now, however, it looked rather dead. But it was warm and dry, and Fiona couldn’t refuse that. She set down the picnic basket, opened it, and was just about to distribute its contents when one of the girls shrieked in terror.