Anwyn wanted to celebrate finally getting crutches. Weeks spent cooped up in bed was far too long. But her private celebration of independence arrived at the same time as a crisis for her family. The Tourmaline Dreams, one of her family’s ships, was overdue and coming in during an unseasonal storm.
The Tourmaline’s dramatic arrival revealed secrets that Anwyn hadn’t suspected and opened her eyes to truths that she couldn’t have known. Stormy Arrival is a sweet childhood story exploring just what family and acceptance really means, set in the matriarchal world of Muirin.
By Meyari McFarland
Anwyn strained her ears to hear what Doctor Bernice said but she and Father were talking too quietly for her to make it out. All she could hear was the murmur of their voices. The wailing wind under the eaves didn’t help. Neither did the rain pounding down on the rooftop. There was no way for her to hear what Doctor Bernice said with the storm raging outside.
“Not fair,” Anwyn pouted.
She glared around her bunk. The hanging strings of crystals that served as a curtain no longer pleased her. After so long stuck in bed Anwyn just wanted to tear them down and put something else up in their place. Early on, right after Siobhan had broken her ribs and ankle, Anwyn had found their twinkle comforting. They sent rainbows over the walls and ceiling of her bunk.
By now the sparkle and color just annoyed her. She’d wanted to paint star charts on the ceiling of her bunk but Father hadn’t let her. He wouldn’t let her do anything. Every time Anwyn had tried to find something to keep from being bored out of her mind, Father had stopped her. Even the books he approved of were too heavy for her to hold.
“Thank you so much,” Father said loudly enough that Anwyn could hear his sigh of relief.
“What?” Anwyn shouted. “What’d she say? Can I get up yet? What?”
“Annie!” Father snapped. His head appeared at the doorway as he leaned in to look at her scoldingly. “Be quiet.”
“But can I get up yet?” Anwyn complained, her voice echoing in the little kid’s bedroom. “Come on, I’ve been stuck in bed forever!”
Doctor Bernice laughed as she came around the corner carrying a pair of crutches that were Anwyn’s size. Father snorted and shook his head because Anwyn squealed with delight as if she was Caddie getting new silk thread to embroider with. She flung the blankets aside, shoving the crystal curtain off to the side in the hook designed to hold them out of the way.
“For me?” Anwyn gasped. “For me? For me?”
“Yes, for you,” Doctor Bernice said. She held the crutches away from Anwyn, out of her reach. “There are rules, young lady.”
“Awww,” Anwyn groaned.
Doctor Bernice’s stern glare was nearly as effective as Mother’s so Anwyn sighed and slid her legs around the bed so that she was sitting nicely with her hands in her lap. That made Doctor Bernice glare even harder. Anwyn winced and started easing her legs back into bed only to stop when Doctor Bernice snorted and handed the crutches to father.
“Rule One,” Doctor Bernice said as she knelt to check the plaster cast around Anwyn’s ankle, “is that you put absolutely no pressure on this leg. None. No hopping, no setting it on the ground, nothing.”
“I can do that!” Anwyn exclaimed. “I promise, no weight at all.”
Both Father and Doctor Bernice looked up as the wind wailed under the eaves again. Anwyn fidgeted. The storm was loud but getting to get out of bed and move around on her own was way more important. Her whine made Doctor Bernice chuckle. Father left the bedroom with her crutches, peering down the hallway towards the big window seat where Aravel liked to knit. He winced before coming back in.
“Second, no stairs,” Doctor Bernice said.
“But the house is full of stairs!” Anwyn protested. “How am I supposed to get anywhere if I can’t go up and down the stairs?”
“You’ll ask an adult to carry you,” Doctor Bernice said. “That ankle was very badly broken, Annie. If you put any weight on it there’s a good chance that you’ll never heal right. That means limping when you walk, no sense of balance and probably no sailing.”
Anwyn felt her cheeks go pale at the threat of never getting to sail. She’d wanted to go out with the ships ever since she understood where it was her mother and aunts went when they disappeared for a while. There were so many places in the world that she’d heard about that she wanted to see. Never getting to see them was a horrifying thought that made her feel sick to her stomach.
“I’ll do it,” Anwyn promised.
“Good,” Doctor Bernice said, nodding her approval. “Thirdly, you’re to rest whenever your ankle hurts. The pain means that you’ve done something to threaten the bones knitting, Annie. You’ll stop, sit down somewhere, put your foot up and rest until it stops throbbing. A low ache is to be expected. The bones have a lot to heal but throbbing or sharp pains are bad.”
“So like the ribs?” Anwyn asked.
She rubbed her side where the ribs had been broken. It had taken forever for them to stop stabbing Anwyn with every breath. They still ached but from what Mother said that was to be expected. Mother had said that her broken ribs had bothered her for nearly a full year after she’d taken a swinging boom to the chest in the middle of a storm.
Father had huffed at Mother when she had said it, hugging her and murmuring something that made Mother smile at him indulgently while patting his back. All Anwyn had cared at the time was that eventually she’d be able to breathe again. Now all she cared was that if she went easy on her leg she’d be free of her bunk for the first time in nearly a full month.
“Just like the ribs,” Doctor Bernice agreed. “Lots of rest, no pressure on the leg at all and absolutely no stairs, no matter how much you want to get somewhere. There’s no way for you to do stairs by yourself yet, Annie. The ribs aren’t quite healed and that ankle needs more time before you put weight on it, even the little bit of weight that comes from hopping up stairs.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Anwyn sighed. “And I suppose I should take it easy because I’ve been lying down so much?”
Doctor Bernice broke into belly laughs at that. “Yes, you should. You’ve lost a lot of muscle tone waiting for your body to heal up. I think you’ll be surprised at how much those crutches take the wind out of your sails. You’ll be good?”
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