Story for the Day: The F Word

The F Word
                The commander entered the kitchen from yeoman’s quarter entrance of the keep to find Martje sitting at the table near the window with some tea in her hand and a large slice of sponge before her. She seemed downtrodden and dejected, resting her chin on a bent hand and staring sighingly out the window, her countenance rapt in despondent consideration. She only moved to sip her tea and lift her slice of cake to her lips. She masticated an a dour pose, seeming to hardly command enjoyment from such a luscious treat, merely eating for the sake of comfort rather than all the happiness such a delicacy would usually accord for the cook. She swallowed and sighed, and then mechanically sipped her tea and raised the cake to her lips once more. 
Melissa MaCarthy can be Martje's stand-in for now
                Martje inhaled another heaving and amorous sigh when she noted the commander walking toward her. She invited her to sit by pouring a cup of tea and sliding it across the table. “Will he be all right, kin?” she asked in a worried tone as the commander took her place.
                “As well as a disheartened and dear blacksmith can be at such a time,” the commander smiled, raising her cup toward Martje in thanks of her offering. She inhaled the lemon and ginger fragrance before drinking most of what was given her. She paused, smirked at the half-eaten cake, and said, “I think Tomas would rather be alone. He feels so unequal to a woman’s company now that he is accustomed to being by himself. It is never an easy feat for someone who has been used to only a mother for company since his first love died to give his heart so willingly to another.”
                “Loughnas ain’t commin’ back?” Martje inferred, stuffing her mouth with more cake as the sentiment of isolation on Tomas’ behalf prevailed her.
                “I don’t think she means to, no.”
                “Why not? He’s a real good-lookin’ man. Skilled and all, too. Strappin’, quiet, good to his family.” Martje pondered and then leaned over the table to whisper, “He didn’t say the F word, did he?”
                “No,” the commander laughed, “I don’t believe he attributed her the dreaded title of friend.”
                “Aye, that’s the worst, kin, when a man calls you a friend after you tell him you’re interested in him.”
                “I daresay it should be.”
                “Last one of ‘em who called me a friend after leading me on got a fist in the mouth,” said Martje, wringing her clenched hand.
                The commander raised a brow. “Is that what happened to the gardener?”
                Martje humphed behind her raised cup and averted her gaze out the window.
                “He shall never utter the word friend to a woman again,” the commander snickered.
                “Aye,” was Martje’s complacent reply.
                The commander shook her head and half smiled. “All that time wasted acquainting oneself with another. What a horror.”
                “If he wants me, then say so. None of this playin’ around. That’s what I say.” Martje muttered a few swears in Old Frewyn, crossed her arms and scowled at the remainder of her cake.
                “Well, now that Loughnas is no longer with us,” the commander said with a keen glint in her eye, “you could claim Tomas for yourself, if that is your wish.”
                “Naw, kin. I’m done with romancin’ and all for now.”
                “All your love is put into your marvelous cooking.” The commander reached across the table and took a small piece of cake for herself. “Food is everyone’s precious object.”
                “Aye, and it don’t make you feel terrible for likin’ it.”
                It was said with such marked disdain and pointed vehemence as to make the commander sense that the gardener might have been careless in his attentions with regard to Martje rather than have been thoughtless with his words. Perhaps he had made a few japes on the most unspeakable subject of a woman’s weight, or perhaps this was implied by his choosing another woman of a slenderer build. The gardener could not be considered a becoming man in any respect, but Martje had been led to believe that he liked her, and here is all a woman’s concern.“Women make it their object to never be interested in anybody unless the interest is returned,” she said with a soft smile. “I’m rather horrid at this, but do you want to talk about what happened?”
                “Nothin’ new, kin,” Martje fleered, waving her hand. “He made me think he liked me and then went off with Sheilbhiegh.”
                “The laundress?” the commander exclaimed. “The one with the haggard face?”
                “Aye, that’s the one.”
                “I do hope he places something over such a monstrosity to make it worth the venture.”
                Martje sputtered the last of her tea  onto the table, coughing and laughing all at once. “Sure, kin. You make me feel better about it,” she hummed, wiping the tears of mirth from her eyes. “You ever had a man pull you along?”
                “Not in the manner you mean, I perceive.”
                “But you’re a good-lookin’ woman, kin. You got good shape and full bosom and all.”
                “I have the misfortune of having a rather plain face and terrible hair, however. You have the prettier appearance between us,” the commander remarked, choosing her words carefully and being certain to underline Martje’s particular superior claims on her facial beauty. “I am more a woman of sense than of splendor, and therefore am a threat to every man who is searching for one who wishes to settle down. It is a rare man who wants a woman unable to bare his children.”
                “True enough, kin.” Martje sighed and poured more tea for herself. “Well, I’ll tell you then, kin. I can’t have none neither. Cleric said there ain’t nothin’ to fix, if you take my meanin’.”
                Considering how large a family the Donnegals were, and how large a family most of the Tyferrim farmsteads sustained, the commander was surprised to hear of Martje’s admission. “I believe I understand you very well, Martje,” she said with a meaningful accent. “I wouldn’t worry about your future endeavors. I assure you, Martje, that if there was someone who could gain my interests and keep them, there is someone who can do the same for you. Women of excellent consequence who are in such positions as ourselves do not have the object of time to hurry our need to be married.”
                “Aye, I just don’t want to be an old maid when he brings me to the Church,” Martje said with a wilting shoulder.
                “I cannot fathom that being your fate. You come from one of the most celebrated families in all of Tyferrim, I understand. I am certain that with such connections, you shall have the most marriageable farmer in all of Frewyn should you wish it.” She raised her cup to her lips and then paused to add, “unless he smells so terribly that you should need to scrub him every night.”
                Martje giggled and fondly patted the commander’s arm. She smiled to herself and then remembered, “And don’t tell the monster I got soft,” she demanded, pointing at the commander. “Bastard’ll never let me live it down.”
                “I promise. My mate shall never know.”
                They shared a good-natured laugh, and despite the sadness they each felt on Tomas’ account, they conversed their aspiration of everyone in the keep being happy whether settled with another or determined to be alone until the right person should change such unwavering minds.


  1. Girl talk over the tea and cake! Way to go, Bou in raising her spirits.


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