Today's prompt had me thinking about an old character's backstory. I promise, I'll get away from Yekara, Icarus, and Ashes. That's just where my mind is lately.
Outside the cabin, the wind howled through the trees, while inside, the old woman’s fire was nearly out. Her breath rattled in her chest as she slept, huddled under worn blankets she’d made as a girl.
Avon dabbed at Shea’s forehead with a damp cloth, washing away the fever sweats as she weighed her options. She’d used all the wood and kindling she’d been able to gather this morning to build the fire, and it was already waning with dawn still hours away. The winds started up midday, and they’d been so strong Avon was forced back to the cabin early. That’s when she’d found Shea, white as the snow falling outside and crumpled on the floor.
The old woman didn’t own much. Avon looked about the small cabin for anything to burn. The table and two chairs were too big and costly, and she doubted what crockery Shea owned would burn. She’d send her to bed without supper for a week if she tried anyway.
The wind shifted and a draft of icy air made Avon shiver. She looked over at her cot, longing to curl under the warm blankets and snuggle into the mattress. Sighing, she finished washing Shea’s brow and returned the cloth to the bowl of water.
One of the sticks in the fire popped. The flames flickered lower.
Groaning, Avon shivered. The only other things in the cabin were Shea’s water bucket and broom. Neither would serve to fuel the fire without incurring Shea’s wrath when her fever broke, and Avon had yet to start a fire by herself without hot embers to aid her. It was getting colder, and Shea would need more tea to bring her fever down soon.
“What am I going to do?” Avon muttered as she stood. She returned the bowl to the table and scurried over to her bed. Burrowing into the soft mattress, she pulled her blankets up to her chin, praying a bit of warmth would help her think.
She felt compelled to wrap every blanket she could find about herself and go out looking for wood, but what good would that do? It was dark and cold and the snow was blinding. Maybe she’d find a limb blown down near the house, but with the way the wind was howling, just opening the door could kill the fire.
A draft ruffled the hair at the nape of Avon’s neck. She shuddered and pulled the blanket higher. As she dropped her arm, the blanket wafted musky air thick with the scent of mold from the bed. Avon gagged and squeezed her eyes shut tight, picturing a warm spring day when she could stuff her mattress with fresh, sweet rushes.
Avon sprang from her bed and ripped open her mattress. The old rushes were decaying, but they’d burn. If it meant she and Shea would make it through the storm, Avon figured she could sleep on the slats until spring.
Thanks for reading. Please comment below and tell me what you think, or leave a prompt you'd like to see done for an upcoming Flash Fiction Friday.
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