Skip to main content

Iron Clothes

It was not a good day, the day Gwen’s mother never came back. Her father had made her sit in the corner, close to the fire all day. A hot day.
She played in the dirt and the soot, fingers opened or closed, the filth still seeped through her hands.
But all too soon her hands were streaked with sweat. A hot child.
She sat at the fire for a long time (three hours), before she realized the silence.
She wondered why. She knew it was Saturday. And Saturdays were feast days. And feast days were always loud.
Her father was with her all day long; she wondered why he was. Gwen could not see her father; she could only hear him breathe.
He had grabbed her, woke her from her sleep, earlier that morning. She screamed until she saw it was him, but he had dragged her to the fire anyway.
“Sit here and shut-up,” he had said to her.
They were the first words he had ever said to her, so Gwen had listened.
Gwen did complain when she became hungry, nor did she wonder where her mother was until nightfall.
She did not worry of her mother until she was cold.
Her father had not kept the fire going.

When Gwen had awoken the next morning, she was covered and warm and beside a lit fire.
When she sat up, she saw her father. Sitting on the ground, by the door.
“Go see Merkin,” he had said to her.
And Gwen listened to her father and left through the door, to go see Merkin. But Gwen already knew she had to go see Merkin. Back then, Gwen had to go see Merkin everyday.
Merkin would not tell her where her mother was.
“She’s not coming back,” was all Merkin had said.
Gwen believed Merkin because Merkin was always right.
"Go to bed," her had father said to her, when she walked back through the door, later that day.
Gwen listened to her father again. She went to lay next to the fire, where her covers still were. She laid down, on her side, with her back to him.
"I am leaving after next feast day," her father had suddenly said.
Gwen's heart jumped and she said nothing.
"You better not tell anyone. It is a secret," he had finished.
Gwen told no one, until she had to go live with Ban.

Ban was overseeing. It is what he did. Every morning, he would get up and he would oversee everybody, on the tiny hill known as Benwick. The hill, which was only six feet tall and very steep, plateuaed an area of land, big enough for 32 families to build their huts and businesses. Ban oversaw all 118 persons, who made their homes and businesses out of the sticks and mud of the earth, on top of this hill.
Gwen would often join Ban, while he was overseeing, when she came to bring Ban his midday meal. She joined up with him on this day, while Ban was overseeing the miller. The miller took care of the grains; he protected them, day and night and not just from the rodents.
Lodegreaunce was the real overseer of Benwick, but he had been gone for a full two years now. Lodegreaunce had been overseer for twenty years and he was much loved. Everyone from Benwick had called him King. Everyone missed him greatly, when he left Benwick, for no one had known Lodegreaunce was leaving.
Ban was never called King by anyone.
Ban was only the overseer because of Gwen. Gwen was Lodegreaunce’s daughter. One early, twilight evening, Lodegreaunce had come to ask Ban to take charge of his daughter while he went on adventure. Lodegreaunce had left for his adventure less than an hour later. He held his sleeping daughter in his arms, handing her over to Ban, before mounting his black horse.
Gwen did know, however; that her father was leaving. It was not like when her mother had left. Gwen’s father had told her he would be back.
“Have you kept my secret, Gwen?” her had father asked her, on the night he left Benwick.
“Yes, Father,” Gwen had answered him. It was the fist time he had ever asked her a question.
“I leave tonight,” he had answered her.
“Now that you are leaving and you are King, I shall gladly take over and make a grand Queen for you, Father, in your absence,” Gwen had suddenly spoke said, a steady trill.
Lodegreaunce wanted to laugh at how serious she looked. How determined.
“Now is not the time for you to be Queen. You are still just Princess,” he said instead, sternly. “Go to bed.”
Gwen turned to go to her sleep space, beside the fire.
“Father,” she turned, back to him. “Are you coming back to Benwick?”
“I am coming back,” he had said.
“Will I become Queen when you come back?” Gwen had asked.
“Shut-up,” her father had roared at her.
And Gwen had listened.
It was because Gwen told everyone this exchange, between her and her father, that Ban was not hung and the people of Benwick made him overseer.


Ban and Gwen had moved from the miller and were now overseeing the fuller. Ban instructed Bolden (the fuller) out of the vat, so he that he might inspect how the wool was coming along. Ban also had to smell the animal urine in the vat, which helped to cure the wool, to make sure it was clean. Bolden knew how to do his job. He walked in urine circles, in the large vat everyday, but Saturday. Ban knew Bolden knew how to do his job; Ban just liked looking at the toenails of the man. They were always so clean and white. He was marveling this thought for the umpteenth time, when he heard the trumpets sounding.
He grabbed Gwen by the arms and they smiled at each other and jumped, before both turned; running to meet the Romans.

Comments

Connie said…
Interesting and provocative title. Do your stories get edited and rewritten outside of your blog? What do you do with them? Are you published? I am full of questions today. I could see the events in this chapter taking place over a number of chapters really. So much goes on. More.
Queenie said…
Sometimes.

Q
I sure would love to see the next part of this story.

But i've this nagging question. Why is it called "Iron clothes"?
Queenie said…
Wait...

Q

Popular posts from this blog

Again

When I was in Ottawa, abandoned and enthralled,
breathing in the
heat waves shimmering off the people
and the cats
and that lazy raccoon that I later named Mondrian in my mind
after I saw my first one,
I did not look for you.
Nor in the malls, the halls,
the magazines, in the new towns,
or down the old roads,
on silver screens, between the book shelves, down on my knees
hands in the clover.
Never.
I took you for granted.
Oh hey.
There you are.

I know myself
Far, far, far more than I let on
I know what I am doing.
Regardless.


Love is such an easy word.
Besides, it's a given,
We can keep it there, easy, big, broad like the straight black painted lines, it's nice.
Effortless. Quiet. Assured.
So then, I guess that it is not the word.

Punks-Starting to Remember

Minnie is 14. She likes wearing bright red lipstick and getting high.
Right now, Tommy is arguing with her. "Vitto will be waiting for me then."
"He can wait longer," she tells him. "Tell him there was too many cops following you around or something."
"Yeah," Tommy says. "That might work. Vitto would believe that. Three different cops stopped me on the street this week."
"What?" Minnie almost shouted. "Oh, Tommy. They are on to you."
“No, they aren't."
But she knew. "For sure they are. Listen. Meet me outside the pool hall at 9:30. I'll havethe dope then, Tommy."
“No. I really should go see Vitto first.” He kisses her quickly on the forehead and then runs home to make himself some Kraft Dinner for supper.

When he walks in the front door, there is Momma with a bottle of whiskey tucked between her legs, her head rolled to the back of the couch, her mouth open.
"What the fuck, Momma?” Tomm…

Quiet Company

I've been sold, I've been sold, I've been sold, I'm being sold-out
It is torture but
I don't even care
Except to love you more, to love myself more
Those hot-burned tears for you as I rally to save my skin
wind down me and leave behind gold and green
and I don't stop looking
until I look upon you
What on earth...
I've been sold, I've been sold, I've been sold.
I'm being sold-out.


Sunlight filtering through cracks
in the sky
in the walls
fall across your skin
I fingerpaint across your chest
Every word
known to man
and found in you

Fresh snow
Our footprints mark us
You are here!
I am here!
We are here!
Turn your face upwards
Let falling snow rest on your eyelashes
(dream of me)
Let the white melt on your outstretched tongue

Sing.
It's spring.
Just one word.


I'd sit across the hall
looking upwards until I saw the flicker; light on
Sit with you while your busy hands rolled over these plains, these fields
The stretches of nothing
(Look at…