March 5, 2014

In Which Alsina Finds Not Much Else

October 1, 1184

Alsina's daughter Riala was a tidy, meticulous child who would not have taken kindly to any little half-brothers gnawing on her dolls' feet, even if she rarely played with that particular set of toys any more. But Riala was at school, and Alsina was watching Cenric for the day, and that castle set was probably the most age-appropriate toy in the house that he couldn't ruin too thoroughly for Riala's notice. On days when Cenric was in Alsina's care, Riala and Fenrick walked home with Aydelle's daughter Leina, who would then take the baby to her mother at the castle, so Alsina could easily put back the toys and wipe the drool off before Riala got home without leaving Cenric alone long enough for him to get antsy.

Of course, there was always the risk of tiny teeth marks... "Sweetie, don't bite too hard."

"If you're worried that Riala will find out, I can bring over a few things little Celina's grown tired of." That was easy for Nora to say. She may not have had an official occupation of her own, but she did help out with the dealings of her shire where she could, and when she couldn't, there was always a grandchild or step-grandchild with whom she could occupy herself. Aside from the housekeeper, Alsina was alone for most of the day, unless she had Cenric. When she didn't have Cenric, she found there was very little to do around the house, so she'd taken to frequenting all the shops she could find.

Buying some toys for him was her planned Thursday project. "It's fine. Celina's still at the age where her interest might rekindle."

"You're going shopping again, then." Nora sighed. With a dead father and an ill mother and three younger siblings to care for, Alsina's older sister had gained a frugality that never failed to annoy. Even after Nora had married her lord--and would never want for anything again--any coppers that didn't have to be spent weren't. "Don't you ever get bored, either shopping or sitting around, waiting for everyone else to get home?"

Alsina shrugged. "Yes, but not much else sounds any more interesting."

All she got for that admission was a raised eyebrow. "There must be something."

"But there isn't."

"You can't tell me there's not even one good book in the house."

"There might be, but I don't read well enough to make it worth the trouble." Good thing Aldhein read well enough to have taught the children. If Alsina was honest with herself, she wasn't sure if there was a story told that could keep her attention long enough for a sufficient distraction anyway. "And don't suggest I take up some sort of sport or try painting or volunteer at the university or anything else. I've considered it all."

"You could not have possibly considered every feasible activity known to man." Perhaps she was right, but Alsina had never been the most imaginative of people. How much easier everything could have been if she had. "What about--?"


Nora sank back in the couch, eyes rolling back beneath their lids. Easy for her to say there was always something to be done. She wasn't old before her time. Her husband hadn't knocked up a younger woman on the side, even if the product of that betrayal had grown on Alsina. The only permanent goal Alsina had to work toward these days was trying to forgive Aldhein, and it was tough to make active progress when he wasn't around. What did Nora know of that?

"Ah!" Cenric dropped the doll into the castle and giggled. He must have liked the clunking wood-on-wood sound. "Ah!"

"Finished with that for now?" Alsina got out of her chair and lifted the kid into her arms. Much as she felt obligated to keep him occupied, she liked it best when he wasn't. That way, she had a direct focus.

"There's a good boy. How about some apple sauce?"



Van said...

Early because I'll be out all evening.

Alsina's headspace is always sort of tricky to navigate because she doesn't have anything that's just hers. She's one of those characters who defines herself by her relation to others and what she can do for them. Nothing necessarily wrong with that if that's your choice and it makes life easier for you, but it can make for tough writing.

Ekho said...

Hmm. It must be really hard for Alsina getting by day-to-day. She really does need something to give her happiness, when it comes down to it that's the point of having a hobby isn't it? I laughed at how adamant she is about knowing nothing will help, I'm like that with everything and I always get told I talk myself out of it - that I always have an excuse :P

Van said...

Alsina really is in need of a hobby, which makes the fact that she doesn't find interest in many things all the more frustrating, both for herself and for those around her.

I think we all have our certain things that we just know won't interest us even if we never try them, but yeah, Alsina kind of takes it to an extreme here.

Winter said...

To me, Alsina wants to be useful and needed. Losing her fertility was losing the one automatic purpose she had as a woman. A normal hobby might not fix that unless it has some outward benefit - which shopping does, at when it's for something like toys for a child. She was so much happier engaging Cenric than anything else in this post. Maybe something to do with young children would do the trick?

Van said...

It's true that Alsina's main feeling here may be a need to feel useful, and throughout her life, I don't know where else she would have gotten that feeling other than from child-bearing/rearing. Compare to, say, Nora, who was primary caregiver to her younger siblings at a young age, was one of the providers both before and after her first marriage, was the ONLY provider after Jothein died, and then was lady of a shire after her second marriage; the two can't really understand where each other is coming from here, because they're just such different places.

Alsina does enjoy Cenric, and she does seem to have a pull toward small children, whether it's always been there or is a recent development. She has one adult son, but his future wife is at university at the moment, so she won't be a grandma for a few years yet.

Perhaps she could seek employment at the university's daycare? No one could say that's not useful.