Something other than an election is happening today all over the world. Today marks the 8th day for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo.) I haven’t been participating in the traditional capacity of 2,000+ words a day, however, I have been trying to focus on fiction writing a few times a week. Something I haven’t done in a while is craft a short story. That is one of my favorite things to do so in honor of NaNoWriMo and my own interests I am going to publish a short story on here today.
A little background: This story is an allegory of the story of Ruth from the Bible. It seems like this story has been popping up a lot in my life recently and so when I sat down to write a story this is what I chose to use as a map. The characters reflect Naomi and Ruth and their relationship. If you are unfamiliar with their story check out Ruth 1-4.
The Faithful Daughter
By Lauren Sisley
“Mama, I’m home!” I called into the dark home as I closed the door behind me with one hand. In the other hand, I held the bottom corner of my dress. It was weighed down with my earnings from the field.
Mama’s short, round figure appeared in the doorway. She was covered with several shawls and carried a large woven basket when she met me in the foyer. As she flopped the basket down on the floor in front of me, I dropped the corner of my dress and a pound and a half of grain fell into the basket below.
“Bless you, child.” Mama kissed my cheek before taking up the rewards from my work. I bowed to show that the honor was not mine, but rather hers in this act. I brushed the dust from the grain off of my dress and took steps toward the sofa made from wood pallets and straw in the corner of the room.
My job was hard and laborious, but I would never complain to Mama. I lived to serve her. As I let my body sink into the furniture I heard Mama call from the kitchen.
“Tell me of your day, Ria.” Mama rarely left the home. Every night she loved to hear my stories about the people from the town. Oftentimes, I found myself embellishing the tales of my mundane days just to see the spark of mystery that formed in Mama’s eyes. She was a foreigner in this town and knew very little about its people and its customs. But Mama was safe in the walls of the home, and after all she’d been through she was content to be safe.
“Today I tailed the fanciest of harvesters in the field opposite the marketplace…” I began.
“Do tell of him.” Although I could not see her face in the other room I could hear her smile in the way she spoke. Mama was a romantic.
“He wore boots and denim. His hair was the color of a raven.” My mind drifted back to the backside of the man I followed through the field.
“Mmm…Papa wore boots to harvest.” Mama’s mind was going back to her youth and her true love.
“This man was tall, but strong. He was a man sculpted of bronze.” I reflected on his skin tone and his chiseled features.
“And his eyes?” Mama asked.
“Oh, Mama, he never turned around.” I said sadly. She met my response with silence.
“Pity.” She said sadly, “Papa’s eyes were of opal.”
“Bronze and opal. I remember, Mama.” I sat up from the stiff sofa chair and made my way into the kitchen behind Mama. The window behind the stove was open and steam was rising from a small pot on top. She stood absently stirring the contents of the pot.
“Papa was the fanciest of harvesters.” Mama’s eyes were sad. A single tear formed in the corner of her eye. I reached a hand out to touch hers. Mama stepped away from the soup and let me envelope her delicate hand with mine.
“Papa truly was the fanciest of harvesters. This man I speak of was only a reminder of Papa.” Mama began to cry. I took over the cooking from her and allowed her a second to gather herself. “This man I speak of was gentle.”
Mama’s eyes moved from the floor to me as I spoke.
“The longer I followed him the more grains were dropped.” I smiled. Mama allowed a grin to appear on her own face.
“If this harvester is meant for you, you must not delay.” She warned me. “For if his days are short like Papa’s then you mustn’t waste any of them apart.”
I let the advice sink in as the soup simmered. All through dinner and the evening I wondered to myself about this man. As I was preparing for bed on the sofa I looked up from my changing to see Mama. She wore a tattered sleeping gown and her hair was down. Her lovely locks were only seen just before she made off to bed. She came toward me sullenly and wrapped me in her arms.
“My son, Ramone, was a true match to you. And you have served me well after his death. I release you now to love again. Ria, my daughter, I was old when my husband was killed. Surely, I will be a widow forever. But, you are young. God may still grant you another husband. If he does, I want you to go to him. Serve him as you have served me.”
Tears were streaming down my face. I ached to speak of Ramone. He was too young to be killed. When the men from across the waters came for him and his father he was too young. We had begun talks of starting a family. With his death I felt destined to bear no children and to live alone with his mother.
“Mama, I could never disrespect Ramone that way.” I fumbled with the words. My heart was broken for this woman who was advising me to pursue something she would never have the chance for herself.
“You have been the most faithful, Ria. I cannot blame you for wanting a family of your own.” Our embrace was broken. Mama took a look at the tears that were melting on my face and used her calloused hands to wipe them. “Get yourself to sleep. Tomorrow I will help you win the favor of this harvester.”
I fell asleep quickly that night. My dreams were full of the man from the field and in the morning the vision of a small child bouncing on Mama’s lap filled my heart with joy.
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