Renneyeh’s first daughter is a ways out in the empty acres of scrub and dried grass that lie between house and road and school downriver, but Nulba’s eagle eye can spot her. Tight on the ground, red marks on the arms. There are no brackens in her fist. Instead there is blood.
Pualan, he been irregular of a thirdday for this reason.
It’s a minute while Nulba says nothing but feels the pounding in her veins, and first daughter stares at the ground, face hid but insides showing.
“Back an’ we go.”
“He told me here, hard-like. So I sent the sisters away by road.”
Frightened but not entirely. Already thinking the sisters too young for what she is, thinking maybe it’s a mark of some fine kind; in the first daughter there is that pride-shame to make Nulba rage. Nearing the house, the girl slips inside rather than be pulled out into the field, but Renneyeh sees and comes to Nulba.
“You gone, what for? She out of the school?”
“She out to stay.” Nulba pulls her hoe out of the earth, metal hot and strong. “That girl never a child anymore. Nothing more of noting or figuring or games in her head.”
Renneyeh doesn’t hear. “Now you comfort in the sun! Maybe she sick or idling, but she go on back. There been –”
“You-on try an’ have Pualan send her back, an’ maybe then she go, but she won’t get nothing of noting or figuring.” Nulba spits. “Ill thing for girl-uns to be lost of their school, an’ not even twelve.”
Renneyeh shakes her head, still pleasant. “You have haze troubles?”
“Girl never a child anymore, an’ hardly twelve. You go in an’ see.”
“Now, still daylight an’ I got plenty left at my end of the field. Let the daughter be,” Renneyeh says, and she’s smiling but she’s looking at nothing but earth, not the sun nor the sky nor Nulba. (more…)