Trial of Tragedy
(Eighteen years ago)
"Mrs. Meridot!" a voice shouted from across the edge of the village. "Mrs. Meridot! Helen!"
"What is that?" my mother turned to front door of our house. "Camielia, watch the stew."
"Yes momma," I bounded toward the pot of rabbit meat stew suspended over the fire. My mother wiped her hands on a cloth and headed for the door. As soon as she reached the entrance, our front door burst open, nearly knocking her down. Mr. Belmont clambered his way through the door and looked straight at my mother. His face was stricken with dread and tears were welling in his eyes.
"Mr. Belmont!" my mother stepped toward him. "What is it!?"
"Oh, it shouldn't be true!" he placed his hands on his head and paced the floor. "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry!"
"Calm yourself friend, it can't be that bad can it?"
"James!" he choked out my father's name. It was enough to widen my mother's eyes with fear. "He's... he's!"
My mother placed a hand over her mouth and muttered, "he's what? He's what!?"
Mr. Belmont decided to start from the beginning. "He came over asking for a bottle of milk, as you no doubt already knew. I had lost my wedding ring during this morning's hunt, and I made a deal with him. If he helped me recover my lost ring in the woods, I would part with a bottle. So, we headed back in to the woods. It took almost an hour, but James finally spotted the ring. He shouted, 'found it, over here'. I looked his way as he knelt down to pick it up." Mr. Belmont paused. His throat was choked up, fighting back tears. My mother remained silent.
"I saw it all happen," Belmont continued. "A massive bear came straight in front of him, hidden from behind a giant red wood tree. James stood back up to find the bear roar in his face. I yelled, 'get clear!', as I drew my bow, but it was too late. The bear knocked him to the ground. I fired an arrow right in its side, but all it did was make it angry. I... I'm so sorry Helen, but, there's just not much left."
My mother cried out in horror. I had never seen an adult wail with so much grief before. She collapsed and leaned against the wall, burying her head between her knees and wrapping arms around her shins. She cried, and cried. I got up and ran at Mr. Belmont.
"You left him to die!" I shrieked. I kicked and bit him, then pummeled him with my tiny fists. Mr. Belmont tried to block my pathetic assault.
"Camielia, please, forgive me!" he sobbed. Jenneta calmly walked over and pulled me away from Mr. Belmont.
"Let go of me Jenneta!" I squirmed and writhed in her arms.
"Leave, Belmont!" Jenneta demanded as she struggled to hold me back. "Leave this house. Leave us be." Belmont wept as he quickly left our home. I continued to try and wiggle out of my sister's arms, to no avail. She held me tight. I suddenly felt my body temperature rapidly decrease, and I started shivering.
"J-Jenetta," I stuttered. "S-stop making m-me c-cold."
"Calm yourself, Camielia," Jenneta slowly let me go. I crawled over to our mother who was still weeping near the front door. I curled up next to her, not just to try and comfort her, but to also warm myself up. I peered at Jenneta out of the corner of my eye. She stood motionless, bearing a defeated face. Suddenly, she turned to the fire still boiling the stew and thrust her hand out with an open palm. A frosty ice stream shot out from her hand toward the base of the fire, extinguishing it instantly.
The house became dark without the fire to light the walls. I don't remember falling asleep, but hours passed and I awoke in the same position I was in before, leaning against my mother. She was still asleep with her head leaning against the wall, tear stains present across her cheeks. The house was chilly, halfway to freezing in fact. My sister must have made it so. I crawled away from my mother's side, careful not to wake her. For some reason, yesterday felt like a dream, and that my father really wasn't dead somehow.
But, I had to face the reality. I was a two year old who just found out her father was viciously mauled by a bear. I didn't know what state of mind I was supposed to be in, or exactly what emotions I was supposed to feel. I stepped around the house, looking for Jenneta, but I couldn't find her. At last, I couldn't stand the cold air any longer and I headed straight for the front door. A man appeared in the doorway right when I got there. It was one of our neighbors. He pushed past me and knelt down at my mother's side, gently shaking her to wake her up.
"Hey, Mrs. Meridot," the man whispered. "Wake up. Mr. Belmont told me what happened. Are you okay?" I realized the man was only there to try and comfort her, so I turned and let them be. The mentioning of Mr. Belmont however, stirred an anger inside of me. The sun immediately began warming me up as I stepped outside. It was midday already. I slowly fixed my gaze on the Belmont's household.
"No matter what he says, it wasn't his fault," I heard Jenneta's voice speak from behind me. I turned around to find her leaning against the wall of our house with her arms crossed. He head was leaning back and she was staring at the sky.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
She sighed, probably thinking of the right words to say to an emotionally broken two year old. "He claims it's his fault, but Cam, you mustn't hate him so. Our father chose to go in to those woods by his own doing. What happened, is nothing anybody could have stopped."
I stood silent. I had no words to say. Fortunately, a distraction from the recent event showed up.
"Camielia, Jenneta!" we heard a young voice shout from down the road. We both looked that way to see our cousin, Connor, his parents, and his friends Kaylynne and Joshua making their way to our home.
"Of all the times..." I heard Jenneta mutter under her breath. They reached us and we all exchanged hugs and greetings.
"Oh it's so good to see you all again," Connor smiled.
"Hi Connor," I returned. "It's, good to see you too."
"Um, Mr. and Mrs. Sam," Jenneta nodded a greeting to Connor's parents.
"How are you young ladies?" Connor's mother asked us.
"Yeah, what's new?" Kaylynne asked as well.
"Well..." Jenneta let out a long exhale.