Story for the Day: Homesick
Here is the story of the day:
Evening came to Farriage, and once Lochan had finished cleaning the pens, milking the cows, and feeding the lambs, he returned to his small house for a meal and repose before the tender warmth of the fire. Upon entering the house, however, he was suddenly struck with the idea that there was someone within waiting for him, a notion though new was certainly not unpleasant. He knew that she would hear him opening the door regardless of any fit of sleep she may be under, but he governed himself accordingly, opening the front door with care, looking about the kitchen and the front room. After feeding her gruel in the afternoon, Lochan had left his hind to enjoy the comforts that a smoldering hearth and a fur pelt to lay upon could afford and was half expecting to find her amidst a pile of apple cores whereupon passing the threshold to his home he discovered her sitting before the fire in the main room having left every one of the barreled apples in its place. He hummed in bemused consideration and wondered if she had even sniffed the apples that he had left beside her, but she had not. Her languid and prone posture and indifference to his entering conveyed her sentiments of being unequal to anything at present, and devouring apples, though her favourite pursuit, was no exception. The warm glow of her skin and a flickering of her ears and tail told him that she yet lived, but she seemed so despondent laying in such a manner that Lochan was moved to interrogate her with all the coercion his good humour could apply.
To soften her resolve and to heighten his appeals, Lochan washed his hands and face and set to work at the stove with a few apples, a lemon and some honey. Some boiling water and a few minutes brought about an apple amber, a perfectly dulcet and tart puree that was certain to excite the attention of a most disconsolate doe. He extinguished the fire in the stove and went to the hearth in the main room, sitting beside the mournful creature and taking care to waft the mellifluous fragrance of the pot’s contents in her direction. His efforts, however, were of little use; she would not move to snatch the spoon from his hand, as he thought she might have done, and would barely look in his direction as he inched beside her. She was determined to ignore him, and here Lochan’s sense of sly persuasion would prevail.
“Aw, c’mon now, girl. You ain’t foolin’ me. I know you want some of this here amber I made,” he professed, licking some from the underside of his spoon. “It’s my Ma’s recipe. It’s got honey and all.” Still, he received no answer beyond that of a twitching ear and a wagging tail. He grinned to himself and placed the spoon before her face. He observed the twitching of a nose that must sniff, the swallow of a throat for a mouth that must salivate, and though she made momentary signs of interest, all the hints of animation were soon doused by a heavy sigh and a returning to the fur blanket beneath her. Lochan leaned over to observe her expression and found her rapt in a bout of silent tears. “Aw, I see what we got here,” he said, placing the pot on the ground and rubbing her neck. “You’re homesick.”
She blinked when the word was uttered and sniffed.
“Well, I’m homesick too,” said Lochan in a somber tone, brushing her hair aside. “Sure I’m from Frewyn, but I ain’t from Farriage. I’m from Tyferrim, a little ways south of here. I came to this here range for work fifteen years ago. When the old man died, he liked me so much he made the land over to me. Gave me this house and his stock too. Made a business out of what I love doin’ most, but bein’ here by myself ain’t so easy.”
The hind’s ears perked and she lifted her torso by her forearms to view Lochan as he spoke.
“Sure my family visits me and all, but I like eatin’ together with ‘em and talkin’ with ‘em and laughin’ with ‘em and hearin’ Aiden and Adaoire playin’ music in the barn at night. I miss my Ma’s food, especially the potatoes. Those potatoes got magic in ‘em. The Den Asaan says so too.” He paused and felt himself growing grave. “I miss my sister fussin’ and worryin’ about me. I miss goin’ to town on holidays. Farriage is too busy for me. I went there a few times with Shirse but I didn’t like it too much. I like quiet fields and good company. Maybe I’m too used to Tyferrim.” He shrugged and sighed when his declaration was over. He would have told her of his loneliness but she felt it prudent to allow him the chief of the sad business for now and said nothing to mark his sentiments. It was evident to anyone who remained in Lochan’s company for more than ten minutes that he was wretchedly forlorn: the pining gleam in his eyes, the blush of content, his eagerness at seeing his family again all recommended his isolation.
While hearing the end of Lochan’s speech, the hind felt remorse for the little stout man. Assuming that such kindness was what all young men in Frewyn were desirous of, she felt for him in the way he did her. She reached over for the spoon, plucked it from his hand and held it up to his face.
“Aye, he laughed, “maybe I need it as much as you.”
And perhaps he did.
Enjoy the series!