The sun beats down with an unrelenting intensity as I endlessly swing my scythe at the wheat field stretching over the hill, swaying in the wind like waves on water.
Swoosh , swoosh
How many times have I swung this scythe in my lifetime, millions? For what? A couple copper coins a day—Hardly worth the effort but with so few choices of work, I endure the monotony of the task. Liam rushes over throwing his arms around my neck, adding to an already river of sweat flowing down my body.
"How's my cheeky friend?" Liam said, giving me a wide smile, showing his missing canine teeth. Liam's skin the same olive color from working the fields as mine, his loose curly black hair damp from sweat.
"Your cheeky friend is tired and sweaty as usual," I replied, rolling my eyes at him.
"You whine too much," Liam teased, throwing his satchel over his shoulder.
I tilted my head at him, "You asked."
"But did I really? Anyways, guess who's getting their teeth fixed tomorrow," Liam bends over grabbing the edges of his mouth pulling them back, accentuating his goofy looking face more.
"Who is fixing them? Last time I checked you couldn't grow teeth back," I gave him a skeptical look.
"A healer!" he said proud like he just made me a fool.
"Healers don't come this far out you dimwit," I replied, going back to swinging my rusted scythe.
"Allen said we could retire for the day," Liam pointed toward the sun disappearing over the horizon, "Be Careful, Demons come out at night," Liam growls at me, doing a clawing motion. I swung my scythe one last time, corralling the wheat into a bundle with a rope, tossing it over my shoulder with a sigh—There is no talking sense into Liam's thick skull.
"They're a fake healer."
"You're so sour," Liam frowns at me, squinting his eyes.
"No, I am being skeptical like you should be."
"I envy you! your perfect teeth, dashing looks, so handsome," Liam puts the back of his hand on his forehead acting like he is going to swoon, I just roll my eyes at him again. "Come with me Aries, who knows the healer could be a woman," Liam raises his eyebrow at me with a grin.
"Or they could be a pervy old man that likes little boys. What is your plan if it's a woman? Are you going to court her?" I said, letting out an obnoxious laugh as we walked towards the large wooden barn with red paint peeling off the sides.
Liam Grins, "Depends on how big her—," he says, grabbing his chest.
"Tits! that's all you care about," I chuckled, shaking my head.
"I am nineteen, a man! I must plow my field and lay my seed! Of course that's all I care about," Liam chortled, spinning around walking backwards as he smiled at me.
"Goddess , help me," I tittered, putting my hand over my face. Liam just laughs as he walks into Allen's belly, practically bouncing off it, turning around to our unamused boss standing in the barn doorway.
Liam looks slowly up to him, "Sorry sir," he said as his grin dissipated.
"Maybe if you thought less about tits and more about the work in the field you would get more coin," Allen said, coming over dropping a silver piece in my hand. This was the first time I had ever seen silver. It's shine was impressive, It felt strangely warm in my hand.
Allen squeezes my shoulder, "You've done good son," Allen said, smiling at me, his unkempt teeth blackened, his hair not far behind his missing teeth.
"I can't sir , this is over a hundred days worth of work."
"It's fine , You pick up the slack for the others," he said, eyeing Liam as he picked earwax from his ear, rubbing it on his tan linen pants.
"What?" Liam said, clueless to what is going on as Allen and I stared at him in disappointment.
"Are you sure."
"Of course Aries," he replied, patting me on the shoulder as he walked over dropping a couple copper coins in Liam's hand. Allen lets out a loud sigh before making his way out of the barn.
I let out a long breath, "Liam you're going to get fired if you don't start working harder," I said, giving him a concerned look—Sometimes I don't know if he is lazy or stupid...maybe both. I toss the bundle of wheat in the barn before we make our way towards home.
"Wait! He gave you a silver coin?" Liam said excitedly, grabbing my hand after seeing the shine.
"Are you listening," I said annoyed as he plucked the coin from my hand.
Liam tilts his head at the coin, "Why is it so warm?" he said, looking at me, I shrug.
"I've never seen silver so I don't know how it works,"
"What are you going to do with it?" Liam says with an intensity in his eyes.
"Give it to your sister?" I replied as Liam frowned, letting out a long moan of dissatisfaction with my answer.
"Why on earth would you do that?" Liam whined, putting his arm around my shoulder as we walked the dirt path to the village appearing over the horizon.
"Because she's giving me a place to stay?"
"That's a dumb reason, she will let you stay whether you work or loaf around the house," Liam said, leaning on me as my tired legs stumbled us both across the road almost falling into the stream hugging it.
"Between you and I , I think she wants to sleep with you," Liam laughs as I aggressively push him away.
"Ugh, your mind is always in the gutter," I looked disgusted at him, "why would you say something like that."
"It's true! The hair , the face , the arms," he says grabbing my bicep tightly, "The dark red crimson eyes—why are you so fucking beautiful, its unfair," Liam said, letting out a groan.
"My eyes are more of a dark brown," I hissed at him.
"Sure don't look Brown to me," Liam Replied, giving me a shoulder shrug.
"Whatever," I snapped as we approached the old cottage house. It wasn't great but it was home. Vines climbed up the side of the faded grey bricks making their way to the battered red clay shingles of the roof. Smoke plumed out of the broken chimney head disappearing into the cold air.
"I am just saying if you have a monster cock on top of it, I'm going to throw myself off a cliff in envy," Liam said as his sister opens the door mid sentence.
"Talking about cocks again eh?" Liam's sister teased, turning her gaze to me with a warm smile. She's a beautiful woman that doesn't look a day over thirty. Her pitch black hair flowed behind her dainty shoulders, A few scattered gray hairs nestled in the darkness, surely from the stress of taking care of Liam—Her perfect hazel eyes radiating love and compassion. I wondered if one day a noble would glance at her beauty, sweeping her from her feet to the royal capital walls. How Liam's goofy looking self was related to her was beyond me.
"Context sis , it matters," Liam lowers at his sister.
"Its ok Liam, I will love you all the same," she said, pulling her stare from me, shooting a smirk at Liam which makes him uncomfortable.
"Emma, don't tease him, you know how he is with these types of things," I smiled at her as I walked into the cottage. Food already prepared, sitting on the table in the middle of the room waiting for us. Three wooden bowls filled to the brim with broth. The Air is filled with an aroma that makes my stomach twist in anticipation. I walked over taking a seat looking at the meaty soup. I glance over to Emma and smile.
"Thank you for everything."
"I would like something besides soup," Liam mumbled, looking disappointed at the bowl, spinning the food around with a spoon.
"How about you do some fucking work in the fields then," she replied, throwing her spoon at Liam before reaching across the table stealing his.
"Am I to use a dirty spoon," Liam said, looking distressed at the spoon on the floor.
"Yes," Emma said, taking a spoonful of soup without breaking her eye locked scowl, "Oh I almost forgot, may the cunts in heaven bless this food as they're the only true light in the Darkness blah, blah, blah!" Emma said before going back to her soup making a slurping noise.
"You know Emma, If you're going to call them cunts what's the point of the prayer," I laughed out loud.
"It makes me feel good?" she said with a mouth full of food, chewing. I take the silver coin out scooting it across the table to Emma.
"Allen gave you that?" She looks at me perplexed, tilting her head.
I nodded, "He did but it's yours now," I replied but she slid it back to me.
"No but I will take Liam's," she said, giving him another scowl as he pulls the three copper coins out placing them on the table making a rattling noise. We all three eat in silence for the remainder of the time. Liam and I work everyday but the blessed day, leaving little variance in our daily lives to have anything to talk about. Emma's work is not something we talk about so our meals usually end in silence.
"Ok, I'm full, off to bed," Liam jumped up, stretching his arms towards the ceiling.
"Bathe first for Goddess sake," Emma says, looking at him with a dramatic look of disgust.
"Fine," he huffs off to the creek in the back of the house as Emma and I sit in silence for a few minutes, Chewing our food.
Emma lets a sigh out, "I'm going into town tomorrow for a few days, please make sure Liam doesn't kill himself doing something stupid," she said, getting up as I gently grabbed her slender wrist.
"Take the silver and skip going to town for a few months," I said as Her face softened into sadness, she cups my face with both hands giving me a strained smile.
"My dear Aries, I know it bothers you, but it's what we must do to survive, you know this," Emma said, rubbing her thumb on my cheekbone.
"But you don't have to... I know you hate it," I replied with my voice cracking.
"You have grown into such a fine man," she said, running her fingers through my hair, "but you are still not grown up."
"Emma, please," I pleaded but she shakes her head.
"Aries when are you going to move on? How long do you plan to work the fields," Emma sighed, sitting back down grabbing my hand on the table, squeezing it.
"I like being around you and Liam."
"You're eighteen, almost nineteen. There's a huge world out there full of things but you chose to sit at this cottage with a old whore and her stupid brother," she says, tilting her head at me, "why? I believe you're meant for something beyond this little town."
I dropped my head, "I don't know about that," I mumbled.
"We may not be blood related but I love you Aries, I want you to be happy."
"I'm happy," I said as She shook her head in disapproval again.
"I see how you walk in with that strained smile everyday, you're not happy," Emma sighed, looking at her room door.
"Do you not want me around?"
"Oh goddess, I want you around forever but that's not right of me. That thirteen year old little girl, picking that baby up in the forest, knew that one day her brother would leave this run down cottage," Emma said, pulling me in for a hug.
Emma kept herself well groomed, her hair was soft and had a flowery smell, it was relaxing, comforting—it felt like home. "You don't deserve this misery," I mumbled into her ear as I squeezed her.
"Maybe but I was at least blessed with you. Those cunts at least gave me a bit of happiness, even if it was short," she said as her lower lip Quivers, holding back tears. Emma stood up abruptly, walking to her room, coming back with a large lock box, setting it on the table as it made a thump. She lets out a long breath as she puts a key into the lock, turning as it makes a clicking noise. A light laminates from the top as Emma pulled out a white silk looking blanket. Its golden lining shines even stronger than that of it's white center. The name Aries is stitched on the cloth at the bottom—I look blankly at it in confusion.
"What is this? it looks expensive," I said and Emma managed a laugh from her sadness.
"It's heaven cloth," she said, feeling the edges.
"It supposedly made in heaven by the goddesses and you were wrapped in it when I found you, we should have brought you to the church but mother and I were selfish, your life would've been so much better," Emma said as Tears escaped her hazel eyes, "take it, make a life for yourself."
"We can sell it," I said, grabbing her hand, she just shook her head, pulling her hand away slowly.
"I have stolen enough from you," She said as the old wood floorboards creak and Liam's head popped out from behind the door.
"What the hell is going on in here," Liam said as Emma tosses the blanket into the lock box pushing it towards me.
"Nothing you twat, go to bed," Emma barked, tossing a bowl at Liam, Wiping tears from her face.
"Ouch," Liam said, being overly dramatic before making his way to the bedroom with a curious look. Emma comes back over after picking the bowl up from the floor, kissing me on the forehead.
"You stink. Go wash up before bed," she said with her lips pressed to my forehead, her kiss lingering before leaving for her bedroom. I sit staring at the lock box. What does this even mean?