December 23, 2013

In Which Rina's Comfort Is Wasted

February 23, 1184

Uncle Garrett's soup had done what it could, and Rina had to admit that it had done more than she'd expected it would, for all her standards were barely off the ground in that regard. Her grandmother had been pleased to see her finish the whole bowl, even if she'd declined the offer of a second, but the sating of her hunger and a momentary warmth aside, Rina herself didn't feel much better. Nanalie--Aunt Nanalie, she supposed--had shown her to her bedroom, and of course it contained a mirror, and like an idiot Rina had looked. She didn't recognize the girl she saw there.

Any delusions she might have had of her own beauty were long gone, but she had at least been visibly alive the last time she'd dared face a mirror. Many she and her father had passed on their journey had averted their eyes, and now she knew why. She hadn't just been sickly and unkempt and downright messy. She might as well have been a walking, breathing corpse.

As far as her father was concerned, that was all she was now.

She didn't miss him. Her entire life, he'd made it very clear that he valued her as nothing but a bargaining piece. She knew very well how little point there was in loving him. But he'd spent the past fourteen years defining her and redefining her, and now that the Reverend Mother had denied him that right, he couldn't do that any more. She supposed she ought to have been grateful, but the lack of him begged the question of what next. She had no way to define herself, and nothing with which to start.

She supposed she would sleep. It was practically all she'd done since she'd arrived in Naroni, but what else did she have to do? She was useless and lifeless as salted ground. She could lie there, dormant. No one could say she wasn't good at that.

She took to the dresser and swapped her dress for the green nightgown her aunt had set aside for her. It was softer than the one the nuns had lent her, and warmer too, but its comfort was wasted on her. Her raw wrists burned as she bent them to close the drawer and the scars within her seared, her core a raging wildfire with no better kindling than its own ashes. Beads of sweat glued her hair to her brow and a cramp gnawed at her abdomen. She was due for a course. The doctor monk back in Dovia had said they'd be nearly unbearable now, all smug and superior like it was the least of what she deserved.

She stepped back to the bed, pains punctuated with each movement, a metronome of nervous surges where her heart had once been. She didn't know why she was still alive. She'd barely recovered from her illness when her father had forced her out of bed to take her to another land in the dead of winter. She hadn't been allowed her own horse, instead tethered to the back of his by the wrists like a slave. She'd had to sleep in stables with the horse, and he'd kept the horse better fed. He'd said it was to make her grateful to God, to oblige her to serve Him should He let her survive.

A kinder deity would have killed her.

She slipped beneath the blankets and eased herself down, the pains dulling as she lay but nonetheless pressing onward. Sleep would be elusive as ever, but once she was down, she would go for hours. The better part of a day, even.

She would have hoped never to wake, but she doubted there was much point. If this streak didn't let up, she'd never be that lucky.



Van said...

So, next scheduled update is Christmas. It might happen, it might not. If not, I don't make a habit of going out on Boxing Day, so there it'll be.

Ekho said...

Poor Rina, I can imagine how hard it is for her now - after her father's grooming to be a tool, finding meaning for herself of her own choice is going to be hard on her. I hope when she does discover her own reason to live, she no longer doubts herself. I don't know why she doubts her own beauty, I find her very pretty. I'm curious what illness she suffered and why it would effect her courses - maybe someone in Naroni can help to relieve the pain. I can't believe her father would make her endure that kind of treatment - like a criminal.
Seems as though she is so depressed sleep is her only friend, poor girl.

Van said...

Rina's newfound freedom from her father would be disorienting even if she hadn't suffered X trauma just before. It's entirely her father's fault for not telling her she could be anything back when she was young enough that "You can be anything" would actually mean "You can be anything" rather than "What the hell now?". :S

Rina's in for a rough time for a while now. But there will be light at the end of her tunnel, and she'll have at least one other friend before long. ;)

Mimus said...

This "illness" sounds like sexual abuse to me, but hopefully I'm wrong. But I can't think of no other reason for the "scars within her". :(

Van said...

Suffice to say that what Rina went through was not pleasant. :(

Penelope said...

Ach, what an excruciating read. I took all this to mean that she'd had a forced abortion, which makes me wonder where the man is in all of this. How incredibly tragic. :(

Van said...

That's one theory. Stay tuned... :S