Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Fulfillment (04/06/06)
TITLE: Child of Her People
By Ruth Neilson
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This was when she was to go out onto the battlefield. The men, her husband was among them, and she had to help them out. Ignoring her aching feet and knee’s she sprinted onto the field, to tend to the wounded and help bury the dead.
This was her destiny—she was a warrior in her own right.
She had been born for the sprinting across the field—her mother’s daughter a half-breed child, between a colonial blacksmith and an Iroquois woman—strong, proud, and wild. But, according to society, she was still malleable. Her mother, had been, had accepted the white man’s way of life and Gods. Yes, she was a good Protestant daughter, but Mary was curious about her mother’s ancestors.
Anyone could tell that Mary was Iroquois, the darker skin and eyes with the raven blue-black hair that, if allowed to hang free, would glimmer in the firelight. But, of course, society frowned upon that.
She knelt next to her husband, who was sprawled on his back and began to wipe the grime from his face with the rag that she had in her hand. It wasn’t enough, so she hastily tore at her undress’s hems. There was no place for her to worry about being proper here. She sat, drawing the cannon’s water bucket next to her and placed her husband’s head in her lap and began to tend to him. Around her, other women, were doing the same. Unlike them, however, she openly tore her garments they were replaceable. Her husband wasn’t.
“Mary.” He whispered, touching her cheek. She smiled faintly and simply hushed him. He needed to preserve his strength. The wagons would arrive soon. But her love pursued his need to speak.
“I love you, my beautiful wife.” She smiled and ducked her head once, realizing then, that her hair had once again escaped her careful attempts of confining it in her cap. She grit her teeth and tugged it off, allowing the long braid to complete its fall down her back.
“And I love you, Patrick.” She said, kissing his hand that he had placed on her cheek. She realized that he was not going to survive. The wagons were taking too long. He was leaving her.
There was a sound behind her and she spun around. One of those blasted Redcoat was looting those men who died. She was not going to allow this. She took Patrick’s rifle, a fine rifle, and approached the Redcoat, her steps—silent, but her spirit was true. The Redcoat looked at her, and laughed.
“Where you goin’ with that musket, Lass?” He asked, his Irish accent thick. She didn’t answer him so he continued to mock her. “Is tha’ all we are goin’ be fightin’ now? Tha’ all tha’ Washington gonna send to us?”
Mary continued her silent walk to him, allowing the anger of his mockery to fuel her passion. She was going to use that passion and grief to its fullest, to prove that she truly was a child of her people, an Iroquois warrior. Once she was within a musket length of the Redcoat, she thrust the weapon with its bayonet into his body, and then withdrew it just as rapidly.
She was fulfilled, her husband’s life was avenged and she was now standing guard over those men who had died. She had no one now. Mary considered her options. Most widows would return home to their families, but Mary did not want to do that. She needed to help the soldiers they needed her. She nodded once to herself as she continued to hold her husband’s musket, yes, she would stay here with the men, until she followed her husband to heaven.
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