A Tattered Beginning
(Eighteen years ago)
"Daddy, daddy!" I skipped toward my father out of the front door of my house. The village was cheery and many had smiles on their faces. The hunting party had a very good morning hunt and had brought back lots of game, creatures small and large. My father was holding three rabbits in his hand. He raised them high in a victorious pose.
"There's my little sweetie!" he knelt down on one knee and held his other arm out for me. I collided in to his arm and he embraced me, lifting me off of the ground and slung me on his back. "I got your favorite, Camielia. It's going to be rabbit meat stew tonight."
"Yay!" I raised my arms up and kicked my legs out in front of my father's head.
"Careful, Camielia. You wouldn't want to fall now," my mother lessoned me with her hands on her hips. My older sister Jenneta was standing right next to her with a slightly slouched posture and her arms crossed across her chest.
"Father, you know how I loathe rabbit meat stew," Jenneta reminded him.
"It's delicious and you know it!" I squeaked, pointing my finger at her. She rolled her eyes. I tugged at my father's hair, "Daddy, she's been more sour today than our milk."
"Uh oh, the milk's gone sour?" my father retained his cheery voice, but shot my mother a very serious look. They engaged in a silent conversation, raising eyebrows and smirking and tilting their heads. I never understood how they could communicate so clearly without speaking a single word. "Well I'm sure one of our neighbors can spare a bottle. I trust Jenneta was keeping the perishable cabinet at the proper temperature?"
"She was," my mother's tone of voice hinted her being upset at my father's question.
"Hmph," Jenneta frowned and turned her head away, insulted at our father's lack of faith in her keeping to her responsibilities.
"Alright, down you go Camielia," my father pulled me off of his back and set me down on the grass. "You'll be too big for me to carry you like that soon enough you know."
"Hey, my bum's all sweaty!" I groaned. My father was still very sweaty from tromping around in the woods where the thick summer air settled between the trees. Mother brought her hand over her mouth to hide her chuckling at my outburst.
My father smiled and knelt down in front of my sister, who was still looking away.
"I'm sorry, honey," he apologized for mistrusting her. "Forgive me?" Jenneta waited a second, then nodded her head. "Now give me a hug lil' lady..."
"Wait," Jenneta turned to him and placed a single finger on his chest, stopping him before he could wrap his arms around her. She closed her eyes and slowly exhaled through her nose, then spent the rest of her breath out of her mouth directly at my father. The sweat on his skin evaporated in seconds, and the perspiration dampening his clothes disappeared as well.
"Now," Jenneta removed her finger and smirked. My father shivered once, then leaned forward and embraced her. I never understood exactly how my sister possessed the ability to decrease the temperature of the world around her. My parents always told me they would explain to me when I got older. Needless to say, that never happened.
"I'm going to ask the Belmont's if they have a bottle of milk to spare," my father stood up and began walking away.
"Can I come too Daddy?" I hopped after him.
"Well of course you can sweetie," he held out his hand for me to hold.
"Be back in time to wash up before dinner!" I heard my mother call out to me.
"Yes Mommy!" I responded. It was a short walk to the Belmont's household. My father knocked on their front door.
"Come in!" a voice from inside called out to us.
"Hello, hello, it's James Meridot!" my father announced his entry. A burly man rushed up to meet us.
"Hey there James, hello little Camielia," the man was out of breath. "I'm sorry, but I lost my wedding ring!"
"Shh!" my father shushed him. "Are you trying to get the misses to kill you?"
"Oh, she's off working the fields, won't be back for another four hours, but I can't find it anywhere! I fear it may have been dropped somewhere in the woods while we were hunting."
"That's going to be quite the search effort," my father rubbed the back of his neck.
"Indeed," the man turned around and walked back the way he came a few steps, then turned back around and walked right back to us. "I'm sorry, there must be a reason you came over?"
"Well, I was just going to ask if you could spare a bottle, or half a bottle even, of milk for my family and I."
"James, you and I both know how strapped everyone in this village is. That's a hard request to grant."
"I know it is, and I understand if you cannot afford to part with any."
"Err," the man rubbed his hands together nervously. Suddenly, his face lit up with an idea. "Tell you what, you help me find my ring in the woods, and I'll gladly spare a bottle for you."
"Right now?" my father asked.
"Right now," the man confirmed.
"Helen will be cross with me for being late for dinner. Are you sure your own wife won't notice a bottle missing?"
"I'll think of something to tell her."
"The truth would be best."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Can you help me though, please?" the man anxiously asked. My father thought for a short moment. He glanced down at me as I was looking up at him with curious eyes.
"Let's go get your wedding ring back. Camielia, run back home and tell your mother I'll be late getting back."
"Okay Daddy," I said. I rushed out of the Belmont's household and scampered the short distance back home. I turned to look back before I entered. My father and his friend shuffled out of his house quickly and started toward the forest's edge. Father quickly looked my way, smiled and waved. I smiled and waved back. Little did I know, that would be the last time I saw my father's face.