Mo's Manic Monday - Two

Posted: Monday, February 18, 2008 by Travis Cody in
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Welcome to another Manic Monday with Morgen. Don't forget to cruise by MM HQ at It's A Blog Eat Blog World. Today's theme is Two.

There are two significant problems I have with my novel project.

The first is that there are a lot of characters. I feel like I need them all, because of the epic scope of the story and the idea of family that I'm trying to convey.

So many characters creates the second of my two problems...omnipresent narrator.

Neither of these problems is insurmountable. It just makes the story very long and difficult to manage while I'm writing it. I've taken steps to keep everything organized, but the more I write the more there is to keep track of.

For the MM theme of Two, I offer Chapter Two of my novel Outlawed. This chapter clearly illustrates the omnipresent narrator.

If you have time and interest, you can scroll down my sidebar to find the link back to Chapter One of my story. Or you can go the fast way and click here.

OUTLAWED
CHAPTER TWO
Healing

"Boys! I won't tell you again. Get up and get up now!"

She didn't really mean it. Annie McCord would holler up the stairs as many times as necessary until any late-rising parties presented themselves for breakfast. She was equal parts tolerance, patience, and understanding.

Not so, Ellen McCord Cavanaugh. Growing up in a household dominated by nine brothers had exhausted what little patience she allowed herself. She brooked no nonsense and tolerated no deviance from her highly structured routine.

"Michael, Adam, Dennis! I want you out of those beds, dressed, scrubbed, and at the table in five minutes, or your breakfast goes to the hogs." Ellen smiled sweetly at her sister-in-law, who returned a wry grin. They could already hear the sounds of a mild stampede beginning upstairs.

"Honestly, El," commented Annie. "We should bottle that voice of yours. We could make a fortune selling it to wives, mothers, and school teachers everywhere."

"Now there's a thought," agreed Ellen.

Elizabeth McCord backed through the kitchen door with an armload of freshly dried laundry. "Why in the world do I do this? I never do get ahead of it. I swear, those boys change clothes ten times a day." She dropped the basket with a woof of exhaled breath.

Ellen chuckled. "Just wait till the men get home."

"Oh Lords, don't remind me."

"You know," thought Annie out loud. "Just one time, I'd like to walk into this kitchen and find everyone where they're supposed to be, when they're supposed to be there, with a hot meal on the stove and ready to be served."

Ellen's chuckling exploded into a mighty guffaw. "That'll be the day. Besides, Annie, you know you love it, just as much as I do."

"So do I, if you really get down to it," agreed Elizabeth. "Really, though, is it too much to ask that the boys change clothes, oh, say just five times a day."

The women burst into gales of laughter. Ignoring the looks aimed at them from the younger children--looks that conveyed that the children thought their mothers completely devoid of sense--the three continued to giggle as they went about their various morning rituals.

There was a chopping table in the large kitchen, set up against a wall, which went largely unused for meal preparation during much of the summer while the men were away. The table thus was employed by Elizabeth as a fluff and fold station. She busied herself with the morning's laundry, softly humming as she worked. The other two women finished up the breakfast preparations, setting steaming plates of fried eggs and potatoes, sausage, and flap jacks on the table. Fresh baked bread there was as well, generously sweetened with churned butter and rich, dark honey.

It was a wonder the older boys were invariably late for such a delicious spread of food.

The women truly did not mind the work, and their complaints were always spiced with large quantities of sarcasm and humor. In fact, they welcomed the responsibility of running the household, and the business of the ranch as well. It was they who sorted through livestock and orchard reports, compiled trade lists, and generally saw to it that at no time during the seasons did the McCord children lack for anything material they could provide.

Of course, meals were undeniably a chore. They were handled as efficiently as it was possible to feed a family of 22. With the McCord men gone raiding during much of the spring and summer, cooking and cleaning were a little less strenuous. Not by much, though. Children could, and quite often did, cause more of a stir at mealtime than a whole herd of cattle. They generally ate more, too.

The McCord women were committed in every fiber to the survival in perpetuity of the name McCord. Their efforts in Koaler Valley were every inch as important as the successes the men enjoyed in Vargus Proper, and their trials every bit as taxing. They saw it as their duty to keep the home fires stoked cleanly and securely, providing an environment that could positively be called home. The children had every advantage; the only thing they lacked was the opportunity to interact with other children their own age.

With the McCord history such that it was, sometimes the women were convinced this was as much a blessing as a detriment.

The McCord men, those wed to the three remarkable women and those who called them sister, knew who was in charge and they were thankful.

*****

Adam McCord was ten and tired of it. His birthday was in March, months ago and still months away. He was frustrated. His Uncle Clay had given him his first knife, made by Clay himself and beautifully balanced for a boy of ten. It was a long-standing tradition among the McCords that when a boy reached his tenth year, he was presented with a hand crafted dagger, his name and the date engraved into the steel of the blade.

Adam had looked forward to his day since his cousin Michael's birthday. The afternoons he had spent furtively watching his uncle show Michael how to care for blades and how to use them properly and safely had been difficult because he wanted so much to participate. It was well into the summer last year when his uncle finally left Koaler Valley to join the rest of the men.

Adam had not understood why his uncle had done that. Usually, scouting Koaler Pass began early in March. The men were gone from the Valley by the end of April at the latest. And, unless disaster struck or a particularly fruitful raid was accomplished, they did not return until just before the first heavy snows began in the mountains in mid to late September.

Adam's anticipation had only heightened during the last year. Michael was the oldest of the McCord children. Adam had no precedent from which to work, so he had assumed that Clay would take a similar leave of absence from raiding to work with his favorite nephew. There was no doubt in Adam's young mind that he was indeed Clay's favorite. The knowledge gave him a sense of himself as important, something he never received from his own father. Wade McCord was often too busy plotting against the Crown to pay much attention to the boy, other than to scold him for misbehavior.

Adam had no idea that with the onset of Michael's tenth birthday, the entire scope of McCord existence was about to change.

When the day of his birth finally arrived, Adam had worked himself into such a state that he couldn't figure out how to work the clasp on the leather sheath. His embarrassment quickly passed, though. The afternoons had then become his own to spend with his Uncle Clay. The hilt of the dagger fit comfortably in his hand. He had felt important and responsible, and much older than just ten.

March had passed quickly and soon it was April. Tom led scouting parties through the melting snows of Koaler Pass, back into the heart of Vargus. Clay had been excused from these missions to stay behind and instruct Adam. The lessons had taken on an urgency that the boy didn't notice, so caught up was he in the attention.

Then came the day when the men left. Clay went with them. Adam was disappointed and bitterly jealous, restricted from his knife by his favorite uncle because that uncle hadn't had the time to finish teaching its proper use. It didn't matter to Adam on that day that Clay had promised to resume the instruction as soon as he returned in the fall. It didn't matter that there were good reasons why Clay needed to leave. All that concerned Adam was the unfairness. Clay had stayed to teach Michael, but would not stay for Adam.

After several days, understanding wormed its way into his thoughts, and he forgave his uncle. Ten years had passed since the death of Adam's grandfather; the sons of that man had some special remembrances to inflict upon the Crown. Regardless, Adam still could not stop the jealousy he felt toward his cousin, and the resentment of his own father. Wade McCord placed more emphasis on the dead than on the living Adam thought, in moments of extreme morbidity and self-pity.

So Michael carried his knife throughout that summer and used it every day for various chores. Knives were invaluable tools around a ranch, good for cutting wire, prying rusted nails, cleaning out crusty hooves, and stripping leather for new thongs and straps. The hilts could be used to pound and crack things. All these chores Michael performed, while Adam spent the summer endlessly lifting, bailing, cleaning, and toting. Michael was considered a helpful young man, while Adam felt like a child.

He heard his mother's call for breakfast and ignored it as usual. Mornings were his least favorite time of day. He had to face the fact, first thing, that his knife was off limits, and know that he would spend yet another day lugging this and cleaning out that.

He looked at the knife, resting in its tooled leather sheath on his dresser. He heard his Aunt Ellen call--five minutes or no breakfast. He finished tugging on his boots and stood.

"Better hurry," warned Michael as he yanked on his shirt and headed for the door. "It's a long stretch till lunch when your belly's grumbling." He crossed the room he shared with Adam and Dennis, the three oldest of the McCord children, and clapped his cousin on the shoulder.

"'Sides," added Dennis as he followed Michael out the door. "You don't wanna miss my mama's honey flap jacks."

Adam forced a smile he didn't feel and nodded. He loved all of his cousins. Without them he would be so lonely that life wouldn't matter. At this point in his life, however, what he thought he needed was less companionship and more understanding of his plight.

Adam waited until he heard his cousins start down the stairs, then crossed to the dresser and took his dagger in his hands. He was breaking the rules right now, but he didn't care. The hilt felt cool to his touch, but there was a thin layer of dust covering the sheath. Adam was not allowed to handle it, not even to wipe off the dust as it rested safely tucked into its sheath.

He frowned and ran the sheath across his pants leg. That was better. He did not draw the blade, much as he wanted to. He did understand the rules, and he respected his uncle more than anyone in the world save his mother.

Nevertheless, he was still an impatient boy, driven by the perceived unfairness of his young life. He meant to put the knife back on the dresser, but in a fit of temper that brought back all the hurt and anger from April, he tucked the sheathed dagger into the waistband of his breeches. It fit neatly against the small of his back. Hastily, he donned a vest to hide the protruding hilt. He dashed down the stairs three at a time, eschewing the last six in favor of a mighty leap over the banister to the floor. He made the kitchen table barely in time to prevent his breakfast from becoming hog slop.

He ate quickly, ignoring the incessant prattle between his younger brother and cousin. Jared and Kelli were both seven, and although one was male and the other female, that fact failed to stop the two together from causing more havoc around the McCord ranch than the McCord men caused the Crown. His mother would say he was exaggerating. If he was, it was only by a little.

Adam finished his eggs, sopping up the yolk with one last biscuit. He popped a fresh strawberry into his mouth and washed it down with a couple of gulps of milk before excusing himself and darting for the back door. He would have made it, but the hilt of his dagger caught against the back of his chair, pulled from his waistband, and clattered to the floor. He stood there a moment looking at it as though he had never seen it before, then he met his mother's eyes.

It had become very quiet in the kitchen.

Adam opened his mouth, but closed it as he realized there was very little for him to say.

Annie McCord unlaced her apron and wiped her hands very calmly, then walked over to her son and picked up the knife. She draped an arm across the boy's shoulders and guided him out of the kitchen to the study. She directed him to sit in one of the great leather chairs. It happened to be the one his father usually sat in, which only served to unnerve Adam further. His mother was behaving strangely, not scolding him like he expected. He usually got yelled at when he made a mistake, and this time his error was colossal.

Annie seated herself on the matching ottoman, facing her son and holding his hands in hers. The knife she set on the floor out of sight. She took a breath, and then her violet eyes locked with her son's gray ones. The latter's were hooded, the former soft.

"Adam, I want you to tell me what your Uncle Clay said about your knife before he left." Her tone was gentle and not at all scolding.

"He told me not to pick it up unless he was with me," Adam answered. He was trying to keep his voice from trembling, and he was surprised at his success. He knew he was in trouble, but suddenly it didn't seem quite as frightening as it normally did.

"What else? He gave you reasons, didn't he?"

"Yes Ma'am. Uncle Clay said that a knife wasn't a toy, that it was dangerous. He said that if I didn't know what I was doing with it I could get hurt, or hurt someone else."

As he spoke, Adam was suddenly ashamed. When he put these warnings into words, he realized that they were true and that he had been extraordinarily childish to defy them. He turned his head away and looked across the room. He could no longer meet his mother's eyes. This whole business was strange, the way she was just talking, asking him questions, getting him to explain. Before, he had always been told to straighten up and behave, with little regard for the reasons behind his misdeeds. Usually, those reasons were silly ones. But, this time, he was being asked to account for himself. He was being treated like an adult, as he had wanted to be treated, but he didn't know how to react.

"You know he was right, don't you?"

Annie pressed her son. What she had dreaded was now upon her. She secretly had wanted girls, to avoid exactly what was happening now. Boys became men. Men's thoughts turned to revenge for past wrongs. Though Adam's defiance in this case was a minor revenge, it was still his rebellion against something he felt was unjust. And wasn't that exactly what the raiding was all about? Annie could not bear to see her sons become what her brothers-in-law had become. What her husband had become.

Adam saw nothing of this on his mother's face. He still refused to look at her, but he could not refuse to answer her questions; he was too well raised.

"Mama, of course I know he was right. I know all about it and I'm sorry. But I don't understand why Uncle Clay didn't stay with me. He stayed for Michael. It doesn't make any sense. I don't understand it."

"I know, son. You just have to be patient."

"I don't want to be patient anymore, Mama. I've had enough of patience," the boy declared, sounding so much like his father as he held his ground. "I've waited so long. All I want is to be treated the same. It's always about fairness in this family. Well, what's so fair between me and Michael? So what if he's older. Why can't somebody explain why this summer is so different? Why is everyone so closed up about Grandad? Why did Uncle Clay have to go? Why did Papa make him go?"

Adam couldn't stop the rush of questions. He had never meant to let himself say so much. In that respect, he was the very image of Wade. Adam kept to himself, and only allowed so much of who he was to show. It was only in times of great stress that he let slip some of that control. He wanted to solve his own problems, and he only asked for help when it was impossible for him to do it on his own. Adam, like his father, did not like to rely on others.

His poor relationship with his father was stifling him. Maybe he did need help, and maybe he had misbehaved on purpose, just for a reason to talk to his mother.

Annie knew the relationship between father and son had been steadily disintegrating and she knew that the deterioration needed to be addressed. Here was her opportunity to treat one half of the problem.

"Adam," she began, projecting as much into her voice as she could of the love she knew her son needed to feel. "I can't promise that you'll ever understand. Your father has been responsible for all of us for so long that his mind never stops searching for ways to make life easier. It's become an obsession with him to keep his father's name and memory strong in the mind of the King. He's convinced that if he pesters the Crown strongly enough, they'll be forced to bargain with us, to open the way for you children to move back into Vargus proper.

"I don't expect this to mean anything to you right now. This is all for your future. You never knew your grandfather, and that makes your Papa very angry. This is his way of showing how much he loves you, how much he loves all of us, and how much he loved your Grandad. I know it's hard, Adam. It's hard on all of us."

Annie stopped and watched her son, trying to read his thoughts in his face. She fancied she could see him thinking, and hoped that some of what she said occupied those thoughts.

Adam had long hoped for this kind of courtesy, for explanations. Now that he had it, it took him some time to adjust.

Resting on a stand in the corner of the study was one of his uncle's wood sculptures. Clay McCord's magic was the shaping and crafting of wood. It was this affinity that drew Adam to Clay. They both shared the unique talent of visualizing whole events in exacting detail. Clay was able to reproduce those images in wood, creating spectacular carvings that seemed to move and breathe the action they depicted. Adam had not as yet found his conduit.

Seeing his uncle's work--the piece he had carved of the twins, Adam's younger cousins Daniel and David--finally began to drive the point home. He was foolish and childish, and he'd had no real reason to disobey the rules.

Who was he to question his father's motives? Wade McCord was the reason Adam was who he was, and the boy had no business upsetting that balance with pettiness. He was embarrassed, ashamed, and angry with himself for adding to his parents' worries. Here he was presented with a responsible discussion about his troubles, and the reason was because he had been irresponsibly childish.

All of these emotions played across Adam's face as he stared at the example of controlled, channeled talent on display across the study.

Annie reached out a hand and laid it against her son's cheek. Adam swallowed and forced himself to look at her. She was a beautiful woman, and that beauty transfixed him. Her gaze was always penetrating; he sometimes thought that no matter how he secreted his thoughts, she knew everything about him anyway. Today, her eyes were veiled in gentle understanding and genuine regret. Adam wondered at that.

"You've heard the story of how Clay nearly lost his left foot, right?" Annie waited for her son's nod of acknowledgement before she continued. "He disobeyed Wade, not for the first time, and dropped his knife. The edge sliced through his boot and into his foot. The wound got infected and we were afraid the foot would have to come off."

Adam gasped and shivered. Even though he'd heard the story, it still frightened him.

"Remember that, Adam. Especially when you feel like everything is against you. That whole time is the sole reason why your father is the way he is. Your Grandad was away at court, and that was the summer he never returned. Your Grandam had to deal with his death, and her distraught children, and a careless little boy who almost died. It's important for you to know that and understand it. For all the restrictions you have, they are so minor compared to what this entire family has lost. I know how difficult this exile is for you and the other children. You just have to be patient, even when it's hard."

She smiled and stroked his hair. "You're a lot like Clay, did you know that? He's stubborn and anxious, and so are you. Try to understand. He loves you, he'd do anything for you. And he's been through exactly what you're going through now. He knows you want to experiment, but you must trust him. He's got the scar on his foot to remind him what happens to careless boys. He's protected you from that by restricting you. You'll get all the attention you can handle from him and from your father when they get home. I promise."

Adam was just about at the limit of his endurance. He had been strong and he had considered all his mother's words. He had reviewed his offense and found himself guilty. But there was no punishment. Or, the punishment was in his attempts to behave as he thought an adult would, and falling short in his assessment.

So, he fell back on something he was sure would work for him. He flung himself into his mother's arms and promised never to do anything bad ever again. He rambled on and on, making silly little vows to be the best boy in the world and never give her any cause to worry about him. Both shed tears, and then sat together, mother and son, enjoying a moment that Annie hoped would only be repeated in joy.

*****

No comments were made as Annie left the kitchen with her son. The younger children barely understood the fuss, although Jared knew that his brother had broken a major rule. But no sooner acknowledged than forgotten. He and Kelli had their own responsibilities, among them supervising the twins and policing the chicken pens. The quartet disappeared out the back door, bursting with chatter that made sense only in their ears.

Michael and Dennis, on either side of Adam's predicament, were a little more reflective. Michael sympathized with his younger cousin, and could understand some of the resentment he often sensed when they were together. But he did not approve of Adam's solution. Michael fully respected the harm a knife could cause in the hands of the inexperienced. He quickly cleared his plate from the table and then left the kitchen to start on his chores.

Dennis was nine and only four months away from his initiation into what he sarcastically thought of as the brotherhood of the dagger. Since his birthday was in December, he would have plenty of time to learn about the care of his knife. Still, he didn't see what was the big deal. A knife is sharp so you pay attention and don't cut yourself. That was just common sense, of which Dennis possessed a wagonload. The look he received from his mother warned him that such comments were best kept to himself. Ellen was often hard on her eldest, and while Dennis accepted this, he sometimes rebelled and felt the back of her hand across his cheek. Not this morning, though. He was after all a smart lad.

Once the children were about their chores, Ellen and Elizabeth put the finishing touches to the cleanup. Elizabeth then turned her attention to an impatient five-year-old.

The girl had barely slept the night before. Her excitement had mounted to a fever pitch. A mare was nearly due to deliver her third birth, and the foal would be Laura's to raise and help train. Laura was very close to the mare, whose name was Jet. So close in fact, that her father Troy thought the girl might soon start to show tendencies toward the magic of rapport. This particular talent generally manifested in a young child through spontaneous mind link with a newborn foal. Wes had been four when his link was formed with Broma's great-grandsire. Laura would be six the following January, already showing tremendous affinity with many equines about the ranch, though she denied that any spoke with her.

Laura raced outside the house ahead of her mother. Elizabeth smiled and hurried after the child, reveling in the girl's joy. She wished Troy were here to share this with them. Perhaps Jet would wait just another week or so longer. Surely, Troy and the rest were no further away than that. It was late in the summer, or early in the fall, depending on where one stood in Vargus. They were probably staying out late, thought Elizabeth.

How very like Wade, when he knew events on the home front would be culminating in the birth of several foals and the start of the new breeding season for the majority of animals about the ranch.

Elizabeth didn't honestly think it likely that Jet would go more than another day at most. She had looked in on the mare the previous night, and if she knew anything at all about horses, the mare could start the birth cycle at any hour. Still, she so wanted Troy to witness this birth and the potential it carried. She knew the pride he would feel if, as they expected, her spontaneous link formed with the newborn foal. They could all use the event to reaffirm how precious life was. In their peculiar circumstance, this was something the McCords needed much more often than it occurred.

Elizabeth reached the barn a dozen steps behind Laura. The girl was on her knees beside the mare, cooing to her softly. Jet had entered the first stages of labor and had decided to lie down in the interest of comfort. Elizabeth went inside and after several minutes of coaxing she was able to convince the mare that it was best if she got to her feet. Elizabeth also possessed the magic of rapport, but her talent was limited to conversing with the female of the species, a restriction no one could explain or understand. She empathized with Jet's pain, and did all she could to reassure the mare.

{You knew it was like this, Jet.}

{Of course.} The mare's mental voice was strained with her efforts. {But one does not carry this memory daily. Only the joy of its aftermath, as you well know.}

To that Elizabeth could make no argument. She remembered the pain of Laura's delivery as something akin to sweet discomfort, and of course she could not dispute the joy her daughter brought to her and to Troy.

{Try to stay on your feet awhile longer, Jet. I'll get some help and soon you'll have your little foal.}

Jet snorted in reply.

Elizabeth told her daughter to wait with Jet and to keep her up and walking a little if possible. Then she went to the house, where she met Annie coming out of the study. Ellen emerged from the kitchen just as Elizabeth announced the imminent birth.

"Adam, go find Michael and Dennis, and then you three come to the barn," ordered Annie, taking charge. "Well, ladies, what are we standing here for?"

When they reached the mare, she was down again and breathing heavily. Her sides heaved and clenched with each contraction, her eyes showing the whites around the edges. She refused to answer Elizabeth, lost in her own private battle against the pain and searching her own experience for what to do next. The mare could handle the birth on her own, but she accepted the help of these human women she loved in case there were complications.

Laura was a model of calm. She cradled Jet's head in her lap, a dangerous position during an equine birth since a mare was likely to be violent in her pain. But this particular mare was behaving more like a human woman. Laura spoke quietly in a low, soothing voice, reassuring Jet with tone and words alike. Most of it was nonsense rhymes and snatches of song. The mare read her intent from what she knew of humans.

Elizabeth allowed herself a moment of pride at her daughter's manner, which to her justified the confidence of the family in favoring the child with supervised responsibility for the new foal.

The boys arrived with the younger children in tow, all clambering about, wanting to see and to help. Ellen put Dennis in charge of the youngsters and banished them to the far end of the barn to wait out of the way. She smiled at Dennis, knowing that the younger kids would loose interest if the birth took too long.

Laura was permitted to stay right where she was, since she seemed most able to keep Jet calm. Though no equine delivery could be termed easy, human assistance was more readily rendered to a less violent mare.

It was a relatively quick birth. While the younger children ooed and ahhed, made faces, and exclaimed how disgusting it was, the women marveled at the beauty of any birth, be it human or animal. McCord horses were bred for strength and durability, and Jet was certainly strong and in her prime breeding years. After about an hour, the foal's head appeared, followed rapidly by the rest of the spindly body.

A healthy colt.

He was all legs and head, slippery and gangly, but Laura didn't care. He was hers. As the colt struggled to its feet, Laura encouraged it and crooned to it, taking the role of mother. The women smiled tolerantly while the boys teased the awkward efforts of the little marvel.

"Should his ears be folded back on his head like that?" wondered Dennis.

Michael laughed. "That's a special advantage so when he sticks his nose in where it doesn't belong, he'll be able to pull his head back faster."

"That's enough," chided Laura with all the dignity of a five-year-old. "He's perfect. You should show some respect for something so perfect."

"She's right, fellas," Adam said. "Come on, let's get him cleaned up. . .and fix his ears."

As the boys relented and bent to the task of cleaning the colt, the women exchanged glances. This sort of gentle teasing was common, as was the cooperation that followed. Even among the younger children, the spirit of togetherness was strong. As with any group of children, there were disagreements. But they were not of the sort that drove wedges in relationships. The McCord youngsters understood exile, sometimes better than their parents wished, and they knew that they were all they had. None of them would do anything to undermine the relationships they shared. They were as close as the McCord men and women, perhaps closer. Of necessity, petty bickering could not topple their social structure.

Elizabeth was the first to notice the bleeding.

Jet had suffered a tear as the colt was born. Ellen searched for the wound, but there was too much blood. Nothing the women tried eased the flow. Michael went to the house in search of Troy's powders. The mare didn't seem to be in any great pain, but it was clear that unless they did something to stop the bleeding, she would die.

{Jet. . .Jet, answer me! Tell me where the bleeding is coming from!} Elizabeth's frantic call went unanswered.

To further complicate matters, suddenly Laura was in the middle of everything, tears streaming down her face. Her joy had turned to horror as she realized the implications of what her mother and her aunts were saying. She thought about her new little colt, and how she herself would feel if she didn't have a mother. Then she thought about her Uncle Tom, and knew he would be devastated if his mare died.

Laura ignored her mother's admonition to get back out of the way, sobbing that much harder in frustration.

She knew she couldn't let her uncle's mare die. Laura became angry then, muttering incoherently, sobbing and struggling, her young mind filled with love and compassion for the mare. It occurred to her gradually that it was all up to her to make things better. She remembered a time when a nightmare had frightened her, and her Uncle Tom had been the first one there to hold her and rock her and tell her it was just a nasty bad dream. He would never let anything hurt her. And his mare had given her this beautiful little colt. She couldn't let Jet die. It would hurt her Uncle Tom and make him sad. She couldn't let that happen. She wouldn't.

Laura got her sobbing under control, but the tears continued to flow unchecked and unheeded down her soft cheeks. She knelt beside Jet and considered her father. What he did seemed easy enough. He just put his hands down and closed his eyes, and the magic came. She had felt that magic once. She had been very young. A rifle had accidentally discharged and shot her Uncle Garret. She'd seen her father bring the magic.

The child saw no reason why she could not copy her father.

Laura put her left hand on the mare's neck and her right on Jet's forehead. As she closed her eyes, she suddenly knew how to do what she must, and she almost giggled at how easy it really was. This was what her Papa did. And she could do it, too.

She wanted the magic and it was there for her. Laura directed it to repair the damaged areas. She asked it to replace the blood lost. She felt it become sluggish and backed off from her request, instead asking the magic to do what it could to goose along the regeneration of the blood cells. She could see what needed to be done to make the process go even faster, but she didn't yet have the strength to ask the magic to do that. Someday, she knew she would.

There was no way the girl could know how her spontaneous manifestation of the most rare form of healing magic was to change life as the McCord family, and the kingdom of Vargus, knew it.

As she finished her work, she gave in to the urge to giggle. She didn't open her eyes because she didn't need to; the mare was healed and Laura knew it. Besides, she was quite exhausted. She slipped down to lay on her side, her head resting gently against Jet's neck. The mare slept peacefully, her breathing natural and unstrained. The little colt snuggled down next to Laura and the girl heaved a mighty sigh for one so small. She fell asleep, a beatific smile gracing her face, an arm draped protectively about the newborn.

Three incredulous women stared at child, mare, and colt, wonder etched in bold print across their faces.

(copyright by Travis Cody)

23 comments:

  1. gosh trav good going my friend!

    smiles, bee

  1. Linda says:

    Wow! That is excellent writing, Travis! I have to admit that the first part made me really hungry for a good breakfast, though. I should never read when I'm hungry!

  1. That was excellent! So this is what you do when you take time off, eh?

    Me? I do laundry =(

  1. Jeni says:

    WOW! That was a really good piece to read - now, cough up some more!

  1. Sanni says:

    Excellent! I confess I had a "peek through the keyhole" in my google feedreader with my morning coffee before I came over to comment. Hope you don´t mind :)

  1. TopChamp says:

    hey travis - I want to give this more time so will come back a bit later on today. Thought it a bit rude though to sign your linky without at least saying hello.

  1. Matt-Man says:

    Holy Crap...I'll have to come back and read this later. Cheers Trav!!

  1. Jamie says:

    That was wonderful. This is one book I really want to read. The multi generational family sagas is one of my favorite forms. Add in magic, and I'm totally hooked.

  1. Villager says:

    Great MM Post! I admire your persistence in writing and sharing your book with us...

    I struggled with this week's MM meme. Come visit if you have time or inclination.

    peace, Villager

  1. the teach says:

    Travis, I haven't read your chapters but I will today, I promise. The term is "omniscient" narrator meaning the narrator knows everything. It's the same idea as "omnipresent" narrator. In any case writing in the 3rd person (which the 3rd person narrator does) let's you tell everything but it's your choice. You can leave out whatever you want. You don't have to describe everything. You tell the story at your discretion.

    So let me read and let you know what I think...okay? :)

  1. the teach says:

    OMG! Travis, she can speak to the mare and heal like her father can. I was almost in tears! Bravo! Bravo! So great!! Keep writing!

  1. Excellent Travis. Excellent read from start to finish. I'm glad Jet was healed. I think Laura is going to be the biggest part of this novel. Have a great MM. :)

  1. Shelia says:

    I started to move on when I saw the length of the post, simply for times sake. But for whatever reason I stopped and read. It is so GOOD! I really enjoyed it. Keep it rolling. :D

    Happy MM!

  1. Travis says:

    Miss Bee: Thank you dear.

    Linda: One of the things I really like to do in my stories is to focus on the little details, like meals. It helps me make my characters more real.

    Starr: Well, I'm trying to write more without needing to take breaks. But when I get inspired on my stories I just need to write as much as possible before it goes away.

    Jeni: I'm glad you liked it. I have a lot more but as you can see, it's quite long for blog posts.

    Sanni: Anyway you like is fine with me dear.

    TC: Understood. It's quite long.

    Matt: Cheers to you Sir!

    Jamie: I'm making progress on it. In fact, it's possible that I could actually finish it this year.

    Villager: Thanks! I checked yours and I think you did a great job.

    Teach: I really need to be aware of my switching points of view so it doesn't get too confusing. And while I do want the reader to discover, there are certain plot elements I need to convey and I've been doing it through characters. Thus the omniscient narrator. Thanks for the correct term.

    Sarge: Thanks!

  1. Travis says:

    Teach: Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you got the full impact.

    Sandee: Laura is certainly one of the key figures.

    Shelia: I'm always concerned about posting such a long piece of my writing. I'm glad you were able to take the time and enjoy it.

  1. Meribah says:

    You know, Trav, I think you have the makings of a fine novel here, maybe even a series of them. Keeping characters straight can be tricky, but it is doable. Just think of what J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling accomplished. Hugs!

  1. Bond says:

    you know I LOVE this story...

  1. Marilyn says:

    I feel like a heel but I'll have to come back to read this. I'll wait and sign the linky then. :)

  1. Love the dialogue here. I think my mom used that "or it's going to the hogs" line on me growing up.

  1. Travis says:

    Meri: That's the plan anyway.

    V: Yup.

    Marilyn: No worries. It'll be here. I plan to put a link in my side bar.

    Charles: Thanks.

  1. TopChamp says:

    i like how this is developing!

    The wee boy was so cute.. and I was reading the descriptions of the loving home etc happily. Then you gave me healing magic... and really piqued my interest.

    So what happens next?

  1. Dana says:

    :pops popcorn and sits down for a good read: