Friday, July 12, 2019

#FridayFlash - Naming Day

Melissa had started her day before dawn. Chores needed doing even on a festival day, wouldn't wait while she was away. Once the cow was milked, dinner set to stew all day, lunch packed for her husband, chickens fed, she was ready to take her daughter and give her a name.

Their village held one Naming Day a year. Every child who had survived their second winter received their name at a mid-Spring festival. Planting finished, calves yet unborn, weather pleasantly steady, it was the perfect time to welcome children into their families.

She shifted her child on her hip, pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. Benjamin had trap lines to check, would be in the forest all day. Not that he spends much time with our daughter. Doesn't want to give her his mother's name. She sighed.

"Melissa! You made it." A plump woman approached, holding the hand of her crying boy toddling beside her, three older kids following in a line behind.

The roundness of her stomach drew Melissa's attention. "Charlotte, are you with child again?"

She patted the bulge proudly. "Due by the early harvest. How about yourself?"

Melissa shook her head. "We've only been blessed with this one." She kissed her daughter's forehead. The girl shifted to stare at the noisy young boy.

They walked down the lane together, Melissa slowing to match Charlotte's pace. Her unnamed son quieted some, but continued sniffling and occasionally whining. The other three followed quietly, hands behind their backs.

"No wonder your girl is so well-behaved. You've got but the one, and a husband who'd rather be in the woods than putting another baby in your belly." Charlotte reached over and pinched the girl's cheek. "So quiet, too. Such uncommon blue eyes." Charlotte drew her hand back, frowning slightly. "I thought they were green, though."

Melissa smiled, laughed, and shifted her daughter to the other hip. "I guess she just grew out of them."

"You really should come to town more often. Not that anyone should live that far out in those woods. Bleeding faeries been known to haunt those woods. Young girl like you, without a brood to watch over, with a husband out wandering..." Charlotte clucked her tongue disapprovingly. "You never know when those faeries might swap one of their babies in for yours."

Her daughter stiffened. Not much. Just enough that Melissa felt it. But she'd become very used to her ways in the last six months. Melissa stroked the girl's flaxen curls and cooed. "You think they'd give me a changeling, and I wouldn't know?" she asked after her daughter relaxed.

Charlotte laughed, finally picking her son up. The boy clung to her, hiccuping into the crook of her neck. "By the gods, no. The crying and fussing and ugly looks would give the little monster away. Some days, I think he might be fae-blooded. Wonder if there's any way to give him back." She kept chuckling, patting her son on the back. "How did you get her to stop crying, by the way? I seem to remember her having a set of lungs the last time I saw you."

Melissa smirked, holding her girl closer. Her child smelled of honeysuckle and sunshine, and other soothing scents from deep in the woods. Eyes the color of the summer lake, a perfect rosebud mouth, and the silkiest blond hair. "I imagine she understands how much I love and cherish her."

Charlotte agreed, then nattered on about goings-on around the village. Melissa barely listened, just enjoying the smell of her daughter, glad to finally be able to give the little girl a name. Then the young mother could keep her forever.

Somewhere, a faerie family might still regret the swap.

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