The following is an excerpt from my short story collection She Sees in Her Sleep, now available on Amazon Kindle for $0.99. The collection serves to provide some background knowledge about your favorite characters from She Dies at the End, as well as to ease your November Snow withdrawal as I finish up the sequel. Enjoy!
“He’s a waste of food."
He’s our son,” the woman argued, careful to stay out of arm’s reach.
“You waited to see if he would improve. He didn’t. You should have left him to the elements when he was born. If I hadn’t been gone to war, and you hadn’t been a foolish woman, it wouldn’t be a problem now.”
The woman began to weep.
“You have two babes at the breast now and not enough milk. Healthy sons, who will be able to run the woods with our people when they are men. You need more to eat. You know the moon does not call the children like him. He will never shift. He will never howl. He is not one of us. He will be doubly outcast. And who will feed him, when we are gone? He cannot farm. He cannot hunt. He cannot learn a trade. Will he go to the city to beg? To be killed by a stronger beggar? Kinder to put him out of his misery now. You bade me wait to see if the babies would deliver safe, and they have. It’s time.”
“Hush, he’ll hear you,” his wife begged him.
“He’ll figure it out quick enough when I leave him in the snow,” came the heartless reply.
He had managed to pull himself through the brush to the edge of the path, where there was some small chance of being seen by a traveler. His meager clothes were now soaked through by snow and torn by thorns. He was grateful that he was beginning to feel warm again, unknowing at the age of four that this false warmth was a symptom of hypothermia. He sang softly to himself, hoping his mother would come, knowing she would not. He was a very bright child.
The priest nearly passed him by, taking him for a pile of rags. He pulled up short and leapt off his mule when he realized the pile was breathing. The situation made itself clear to him when he picked up the child and noticed his withered legs. He was debating with himself what best to do, when the child threw strong arms around his neck.
“He’s young enough to teach, I suppose. I could use a new apprentice, now Jeremy has died,” he said softly to himself. "You don't need legs to write."
“I’ll be good,” the boy piped up, nearly startling the old man into dropping him. “I already know my letters. I learnt from our priest who died in summer. He had a bad leg, too.”
The old man shook his head and climbed back onto the mule, setting the small boy in front of him. “Will I ever learn to just keep walking?” he muttered as he wrapped his cloak around the child. "I am Brother Paulo. What is your name?"
"My name is Luka," came his clear little voice.