Solveig writhed within the bedclothes, and they became a shroud, binding and entangling her. Her heart pounded like breakers buffeting a cliff, and briny tears stung her lips, soaked her hair.
The moan was soundless, lest she waken small Hedda and Jens, its burning grief issuing from deep inside, and she grimaced in a silent wail, clenching the edge of the woolen blanket in her teeth. She rocked back and forth, pulling the blanket into her belly, trying to still the seething fire of despair.
“Erlend.” She dared to whisper his name into the darkness and pretend he was just sleeping, that this was only a torment she’d imagined, a sleight of her mind. He’d light the candle and ask her what mischief she’d been dreaming.
There was no sleepy sigh, no comforting flame to dissolve the clawing cold that seized her heart, just as it had when the sudden squall had churned up the sea and the heavens had vented its wrath, and Erlend’s fishing boat hadn’t returned. Came the hideous knock at the door, the slumped shoulders of Sven and Ivar, their eyes shadowed as they told Solveig the sea had finally spewed up Erlend’s battered remains.
“Thank you,” Solveig had whispered and clutched at Hedda and Jens until they’d cried out. The children knew an undefined calamity had descended upon them, a dislocation of their world, and they’d pressed closer, seeking the solace of their mother’s reliable warmth.
The inky night faded to a pallid dawn, and the anguish that had ravished Solveig so fervently in the darkness relinquished its hold in the emerging light.
“Mama?” Jens stood shivering by Solveig’s bed, tattered quilt trailing behind him, his thumb in his mouth. Solveig pulled him into her bed and tucked the blankets around them both. “I’m hungry.”
“What would you like for breakfast?”
“Cloudberries and cream. Cocoa, too, please?”
“Of course, my prince,” smiled Solveig. It was a game they played every morning, knowing breakfast would be brown cheese and coarse bread. Solveig kissed his flaxen curls. “Shall we wake Hedda?”
“I’ll tickle her.” Jens leaped from the bed, iciness forgotten in anticipation of the morning ritual. Shrill screams came from Hedda’s bed as she resisted the abrupt awakening. Solveig slipped on her dress and shawl, and while the children played, she kindled the fire and sliced bread and cheese.
They ate quickly, warming up with hot tea before going outside. Thin fog cloaked the hills, and wisps of mist curled along the ground, leaving a trail of fine droplets. The children took crusts of bread to the rabbit and gathered eggs, while Solveig fed and milked the goat. They toiled away at the other chores until the mist and dew was dispelled by the rising sun.
“Hedda and Jens, stay here while I work the hay.” The children watched Solveig, their blue eyes glittering with fear. “I’m here. You’ll see me.”
Solveig grabbed the pitchfork, and striding to the end of the hay fence, began to drape the downed grass over the wire strands to dry. Before long, she felt sweat streaming between her breasts, her dress clinging to her back.
An errant strand of hay blew in her mouth and she spat it out like an expletive, coarse and ungracious. Across the sapphire-hued fjord, a waterfall cascaded like a lachrymal torrent, as great as the sorrow in her heart. She licked tears from her lips, welcoming their bitter sharpness on her tongue.
“Why, Erland, why?”
She hurled forkful after forkful over the humming wires, resenting the day Erlend chose to go fishing instead of cleaning the barn, hating the capricious sea, and finally, despising Erlend himself for abandoning her.
Blisters stung her palms, and her eyes burned with dust and chaff, yet she continued to burden the fence, not noticing the figure working at the end of the meadow. Both women heaved steadily, rhythmically, until they were but yards apart.
“Solveig.” It was as silken as an unfurling petal. Solveig looked up.
“Mother Åse? Why are you here?”
“To be with you.”
“What about your farm?”
“I gave it to Erlend’s brother.”
Solveig was quiet.
“Tell me, Solveig. To go or stay.”
Two little voices suddenly chimed as Jens and Hedda ran to Åse, “Bestemor! Grandma!”
Åse embraced the children, then looked up into Solveig’s beseeching eyes. “Come.”
Solveig joined them, arms woven together, golden heads leaning against the silver one. She felt the edges of her sorrow beginning to unravel.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.