Story for the Day: Chune's Tears Pt1
Despite the strict diet and militant exercise regime I keep, I was told that I have gallstones. I was told to cut out all coffee, chocolate, bread, and live on a diet of only fruits and vegetables for a while. First, I told the doctor to fuck himself. Second, I had a cry and a moment of why-me-o-god. Third, I wrote a story.
The cake in the oven, the roast on the range, there was nothing more for Martje to do than to decide upon which sauce to make. A white sauce with some savoury and thyme might do very well for such a handsome hind quarter of lamb as the one Sheamas had brought, but she reckoned that with such a fine bushel of basil as the gardener had procured, a red sauce with some sherry and a tomato base might be much best. She made all the requisite preparatory measures: she dried and shredded the basil, strained the oils and garlic, and had begun tammying the minced tomatoes when a slight twinge along her right side assailed her. The beating of her heart and her respirations quickened from a sudden and momentary panic. She stopped, placed the tammy down on the counter, held the large wooden spoon at her side, and took a few belaboured breaths until she was tolerably tranquilized.
|Martje, like me, would rather die than give up bread|
Aye, must be gettin’ old, was her sighing cogitation. Guess that’s what happens when we’re hurryin’ around all day, and for the present, any difficulty that Martje may have suffered was over. She raised the tammy, placed her spoon between the two ends of the taut woolen cloth, and began to grind the tomato when another pang struck her, a pain sharper and more pointed than the first had been. She stopped again, placed her hand to her side, and lowered her head as she struggled for breath.
“Are ye feelin’ well, then?” asked the scullery maid as she passed with clean iron pots stacked one atop another in her hands.
A moment to recollect herself, and Martje was able to say, “Aye, Shelbeigh. Must be workin’ too hard and fussin’ too much.”
The scullery maid, though somewhat uninformed, could not be without her suspicions. Her mistress’ paling complexion, the mist of sweat on her brow, the look of pained bemusement recommended a sudden if not a serious illness. “Ye ne’er had a rest since yesterday,” she observed, placing the pots onto the counter near the larder. “Why don’t ye have a sit-down ‘a minute? I’ll make ye a cuppa.”
She hastened to make the tea, and once the kettle was on the range, she helped Martje to a chair and began asking her questions with regard to her health: had she a fever, had her breakfast done the mischief, or perhaps was it the want of sleep? were all inquiries that, though said with the greatest attention and ready compassion, all went unattended.
Martje was too much besieged to listen to any entreaties, solicitous and ingenuous as they were. Never had she hitherto felt any distress of such abruptness and severity, and she grew vexatious when considering what may have caused them. There had been a few twinges, a few mild pangs under the auspices of her bed linens the first time she spent an evening with Shayne, but that was a pleasant discomfort and had soon passed. Here, however, was a very different sort of pain. It felt neither internal nor external, it neither stayed nor ceased, and it was altogether so strange an ailment as to make her tremulous with confusion. That she must tranquilize herself reiterated in her mind and did well to appease any unquietness. A minute and she should soon be well again. It must be the fatigues of the day, or it must be the beginning of a seasonal cold, for it could be nothing else. She was at the peak of health, in every manner animated and exuberant and active. Illness could not prevail in so steady and hearty a frame. Her body, though a little plump, was always perfectly well. It was nonsense to think of any sudden attack of a serious illness overtaking her. The moment passed, and she was well again. Her inhalations eased, the sweat lining her brow cooled, and the pain was gone. Shelbeigh arrived with tea and some of the biscuits left over from the evening previous, the sight and scent of which furnished Martje with added comfort.
The tea, as Martje soon discovered, served to further soothe her agitations, but the biscuits afforded her little pleasance. There, the usual succour of buttery tops crusted over with cinnamon and brown sugar held no charm for her, for the moment she bit into her treat with all the equanimity that such a delight could promise, the pain returned and had done so at a greater severity than before. Her biscuit fell from her hand, she grabbed at her side, and she fell forward to the ground, wincing in terrific aguish, sibilating through her clenched teeth to call for Bilar.
“That there’s the poison!” Shelbeigh shrieked, stabbing her finger at the biscuit broken along the ground. “Aye, I seen it afore! I seen the baker’s boy comin’ round with the traps, I did. Had the poison on his hands, he did. Simae, bhi chune baune!” sobbing uncontrollably, “She’s dyin’ afore me!”
“I’m not dyin’, Shelbeigh,” Martje managed to huff. “I’m just hurtin’ is all.” She coughed and grimaced, and when the pain lessened, she forced a yell and said, “Dindain Frannach, get Bilar, or I’ll tell everyone it was you what poisoned me.”The notion of being culpable for her mistress’ death incited her to feet to move where her mind was rapt in reiteration, for though she had, as any young woman with an officious mistress must, considered having Martje out of the way a dozen times, she had never acted upon any such incriminating fancies. Her guilt drove her toward the infirmary with uncommon alacrity, and it seemed only an instant before she returned to the kitchen with Bilar at her side.