Birthdays

by raenarcam

Twenty-One.

Lunet kicked her legs over the wall while she picked at her sweet roll, watching the carts roll over the cobbles. Isabella should have been here by now. Should have, but she had been making up with the stablehand with the funny nose and Lunet supposed her baby had to have a Pa. The stablehand would be alright, he couldn’t read but Isabella was right, he didn’t have to know how to read to be a good Pa. Lunet’s Pa could read and he wasn’t a very good Pa.

Lunet couldn’t say that being twenty-one was much different from being twenty. Having experienced a month of the former it occurred to her that the only difference was that she was rapidly growing too old to have adventures. But, on the other hand, she was also getting too old to have babies.

Which was good.

She got half-way through her sweet roll and sighed softly. Isabella was going to marry the stablehand and have five more babies. Maybe even more if a few of them died. She’d have to tell Ma soon, get her checked up on proper. She had to have a proper midwife. She just hoped Isabella didn’t die like her Ma had.

Twenty-one.

Lunet sat down in the stable stall and tore a piece of her sweet-roll off. She held it up to Copperfire.

“You’re not going to run off and get pregnant and turn out boring, are you boy?” she asked sullenly, letting the horse lick the honey from her fingers while she ate another bite of roll.

“Do you think I’ll end up being boring?” she asked from the floor. “I mean, I’m pretty boring now. Coruvir’s the most interesting thing about me. That makes me worse than other girls. Isabella’s interesting on her own kind of. At least she’s pretty.”

She ate some more of her roll, a few limp strands of brown hair falling in her face.

“We should run away,” she said to the horse. “Just you and me, boy. We’ll ride all the way down south and never write to anyone and live in a tower by the sea. Maybe I’ll even make up a whole new name. Lunetta’s a dumb name anyway. Why would someone name a girl Lunetta? Little moon… It sounds offensive. It’s a thing you’d call someone you wanted to call fat but also didn’t want to call fat.”

She finished most of her roll and gave Copperfire the last piece. Copperfire was a good horse. She thought she probably loved him more than anything in the world. Except maybe Coruvir.

Twenty-one.

“Aye, I know it hurts Mister Holley, but I’ve got to get the bandages off,”she explained to the old man with his legs propped up on a table. The flat off the alley was gloomy and overcrowded, the grimy windows let in beams of dusty light that fell over dingy plates and crumpled papers.

“Sure does bloody ‘urt girl! Y’watch ‘ow y’pull tha’ bandage off!” The old man grumbled between some creative profanities Lunet hadn’t heard before. Even from Weylon.

“I’m watching, Mister Holley,” she said tersely and pulled the bandage off quickly. Another string of profanities followed with the smell of the man’s open leg sore. Lunet tugged a bit of cloth over her face quickly. It was laced with peppermint but even so her eyes watered. “If you’d just take care of them the way I showed you…” she began, muffled by the cloth, and went to fetch the kettle off the fire.

“Now, watch again, see, we pour out the hot and cold water in these measures,” she explained and, looking up to see the old man disinterested. She cleared her throat and began again louder. “We put the medicine in like so and mix and then gently rest the leg in,” she said firmly, demonstrating as she went.

She wasn’t about to let Mister Holley mess this up. She was his healer, she had been since Miss Laerlin had gone and Lunet kept getting the sinking feeling that Miss Laerlin wasn’t going to turn up again. If Miss Laerlin didn’t come back at all Lunet would have to find other healers to look after all her patients when she went on her adventure. She would have to do something anyway.

Or she would just have to stay here and look after them all.

And anyway, she was already twenty-one. Twenty-one was when people started settling down.

Twenty-one.

Courtney Barnett: Depreston

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