Another blast from the past for Free Fiction Friday: I decided to revisit Muirin’s early stories with Hide and Seek. Hope you enjoy it!
On the matriarchal world of Muirin, Dana Aravel was looking forward to a quiet afternoon spent knitting socks for his mother while everyone waited for the next ship to arrive in port. However his little sister Anwyn’s bad mood destroyed that hope. She was so cranky that Aravel knew there was no chance he’d get the quiet needed for concentration.
Instead, he proposed a game of Hide and Seek for all the kids in the Dana family with the reward of a special treat to the winners. He was sure that he and Cadfael could win the game but then he was distracted first by the possibility of cookies and then by the chance to right a wrong and make his Uncle Athol happy.
All Aravel had to do was convince the adults that a marriage between Athol and his best friend Ruark would solve all their problems. A deal between the Dana and Ruark’s family would benefit both sides as well as protect Ruark from the racial stigma he faced on a daily basis. It wouldn’t be easy but Aravel was determined to make Uncle Athol and Ruark happy, no matter what stood in their way.
Hide and Seek
By Meyari McFarland
Aravel hummed happily as he carefully picked up the white yarn and began working it into the blue ribbing he’d knit before going down into the offices for his daily lessons. It was lovely yarn, nice and thick for the socks he was knitting for Mother. The first sock had turned out very well, the leg and sole of the foot patterned with blue and white ‘X’ and ‘O’ shapes. If he managed to copy it properly, he should have a very nice gift for Mother to wear this winter.
The light coming through the window was wan and gray. His window seat was usually a lovely place to sunbathe at this time of day but it seemed like fall had come early. Instead of warmth, cold seeped through the window to chill Aravel’s left arm and leg. He tucked a pillow between his body and the window, smiling as that fixed the problem. If he kept working he might be able to finish the leg of the sock before it was time to help Father make dinner. Maybe they could have honey buns; Aravel loved how they tasted and smelled. Honey buns always made the house smell wonderfully sweet for days.
“I don’t want to stay in bed!”
Aravel winced and dropped a stitch on his knitting as Anwyn’s wail of outrage carried out of the bedroom and through their entire suite of rooms. He carefully picked the stitch back up but got the yarn tangled as he tried to continue knitting. His efforts to untangle the yarn sent one ball rolling off his lap onto the floor, much to Aravel’s dismay. Before it rolled too far, Aravel caught it so that he could rewind the ball before continuing to knit.
He couldn’t blame Anwyn for being bored and frustrated, even if her response to the restrictions made him wince. She’d been stuck in bed for eleven days now, only allowed to get up for trips to the toilet and for meals. The meals had been a new thing in the last two days after Doctor Bernice had visited and pronounced Anwyn’s stomach healed enough for sitting up and solid food. That was a lovely thing that they’d all celebrated with a special meal that Anwyn got to choose.
She still had the broken ribs and ankle though. Doctor Bernice had told Anwyn that it was going to be another month before the ribs healed fully and probably another month or two after that for her ankle. Anwyn hadn’t like that at all. She’d pouted every day since, trying to get out of bed whenever an opportunity presented itself.
“Annie, you’ll stay in this bed or I’ll call your mother up here to make you stay put,” Father said sternly enough that Aravel winced from his spot on the window seat.
“But I’m bored,” Anwyn whined at the top of her lungs. “I’ve read all my books and my back is sore from lying in bed and I want to do something, Father!”
“I know you’re bored, dear,” Father said almost as loudly as Anwyn. “You still don’t get to get up. You could take a nap.”
“But I’m not tired,” Anwyn complained in a tone that made Aravel feel as though his teeth were on edge.
“Doesn’t matter, you’re still not getting up, Annie,” Father said. “You’re staying in your bunk. I’ll stay with you and tell stories if you’d like.”
His tone wasn’t as soothing as Aravel expected. He sounded so annoyed that Aravel carefully finished winding his ball of yarn only to set down the sock he’d been knitting on the plush window seat. There didn’t seem to be any sense in knitting, no matter how lovely the yarn. He’d just make a thousand mistakes that would have to be unraveled and re-knit.
Aravel stared out the window as he put the pillow back where it belonged. The cold seeping in the window mixed with the sound of the rain pounding on the window and roof. There was no chance of going outside to play today. He’d have to find something else to do.
Aravel went in search of his twin sister Raelin. Their suite of rooms were warm and bright with a common room for eating and spending time plus a kitchen that was full of the smell of rising bread. He smiled at the sour-wheat smell of the bread dough, nodding that the towel draped over the bowl was damp enough before heading to the kids’ rooms.
Raelin would never hide in the little kids’ room, not with Anwyn and Father still arguing about what she could and could not do. She wouldn’t dare to invade Mother and Father’s bedroom either. None of them were brave enough to invade their parent’s sanctuary. That left the big kids’ room which was their older brother Gavin’s domain; unless Raelin had gone to talk to their cousins in other parts of the Dana Clan house.
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