The poll has been closed, and I got enough votes to decide to pursue Novel November. This is the first two handwritten pages of the story which is so far unnamed. Hope you enjoy. Look for Novel November 2 next Monday.
I stared in dismay at the bottom hem of my dress. The awful mixture of mud, rotted food, and the product of domestic animals was sprayed from my knees down to my worn shoes. The wool, which had been a gift from Mother, although mismatched, and more than one color of grey, had been lovingly washed, cut, and pieced together by myself. It had taken days of work to fit the pieces together, and sew them into a dress to fit my slim frame. In the dead of winter, I needed the warmth of wool, but also in the dead of winter, enough water to wash an entire dress was nearly impossible to get my hands on. In the cold seasons, clean water was scarce, and needed for cooking, and drinking, not so much washing. Small amounts of water were used to wash the diapers of my infant sister, but I could not justify cleaning my entire dress. The stain, not to mention the smell, was there to stay.
I was on my way back from town when a careless man on horseback rushed past, spraying me with muck, and nearly knocking me over with shock. I clutched the small sack closer to my chest, and hurried on trying to ignore my cold, damp dress. Before long, I reached the small cottage I shared with my mother, infant sister, and the drunk my mother called her man.
Smythe, which was his family name; I never learned his first name, was a drunk. He was forever backing me into corners, sliding his grubby hands along my skin, breathing his stale breath into my ear. Since my sister had been born, Mother was not the same. Bedridden most days, my mother depended heavily on me, her first-born daughter, to not only care for her, but for the household, my sister, and for Smythe. The one time I confided in Mother about Smythe grabbing at me, she was angry at my reaction.
“Smythe has taken care of us for over a year! If I’m not able to take care of him in the way that he needs, it’s up to you to do it. Don’t think yourself so highborn that you can afford to be picky. No man will want you; the child of a woman such as myself.”
From then on, I kept Smythe’s indiscretions to myself. His daughter was, more often than not, my saving grace. Her cries always came at times that allowed me to escape his advances. She was a sickly little thing, because Mother had refused to feed her from her body, concerned it would make her look haggard, and would no longer want her. I always bit my tongue at this, because I knew Smythe was not picky about the appearance of his women.