Word Count: 504
Victoria Lynn sat on the old log churning the butter and blowing the hair that had fallen out of her cap off of her face. Her muscles ached but no more than usual. It was the other pain that truly bothered her. She slid her sleeve up over her arm grimacing at the festering wound.
She should tell her mother, she knew she should but if she did she would get in trouble. She’d take the switch from Pa, for sure, maybe have to to do all of Celia’s chores, too. All because she had given in to her curiosity, disobeying her parents, and visited the cave.
She’d take it back now if she could. Her arm hurt so much. She closed her eyes, just for a moment, breathed deeply.
The cave hadn’t been empty. A moment after stepping inside something–some animal–had wounded her. Its bestial claws just missing taking off her arm, one claw scratching across her flesh, the blood welling instantly.
She shuddered on her log, hearing the echo of its growl in her mind. Menacing, but only a warning–she’d been spared. It had not pursued her out of the cave.
All day long the ache in her arm grew worse, causing her to grit and finally grind at her teeth. As soon as she could she hurried away from her tasks, disappearing into the children’s loft to lay down, cursing her stupidity.
As she lay on the straw bed fever burned its way through her. In the darkness she twitched, moaning softly. Breathing fast. No one heard her down below. The crackling fire in the hearth, the soft voices of the youngest children, the wind in the eaves, all conspired to speak over her, to leave her silenced.
The ache in her arm moved to her shoulder, spread through her chest and down her body. Her fever rose as the sun set and left her needing–no yearning– to escape outside. To throw off her shawl, to slip off her dress in the cool October evening air, and run. Run towards the woods. Run until she reached the horizon, could she do that?
Victoria Lynn slipped out of her window, to the old tree, and slid down its trunk. Bare limb branches scraped at her skin but she no longer felt any of it. Her eyes were fearful but the blood coursed through her, giving strength to her muscles, building a hunger inside her she had never known before.
As the sun disappeared over the horizon, she ran. Away from the path and deep into the woods. The trees waving above her, welcoming her.
Her hands, desperately clawing at her garments, pulling them off and dropping them to the ground. Her skin burning hot, blazing with heat. Running until she reached the clearing with the cave–had she known where she was going? And then she fell down on her knees, and howled.
Above her, bright yellow, mute and powerful, commanded the moon.