Witch, excerpt 3

gawain 3

It felt like hours until the sky started to lighten. She was able to see the shape of the tall trees, but they were laced within a smoky wrap of fog. Though the fog obscured the clarity of the morning, she was thankful to be able to see where she was placing her feet. In front of them in a clearing, a grazing deer heard their steps. It jolted away from them, it’s shadowed outline darting through the filmy mists.

Dawn, Mary thought, hopeful that the light would lead them away from her hunters. Her captor let her rest against a gnarled tree. He helped her settle upon it, so she did not have to put any weight on her sore leg. When he turned away, Mary lifted her dirty and torn skirts to inspect the ankle. It had swelled to nearly the size of her thigh. The dark plum red reminded her of beetroot and there was a certain shininess to it as well, like a glazing of light on water. When she looked up, she caught him staring at her injury too. He looked worried by it, she thought. Her captor met her gaze and said something to her; she didn’t understand, but just watched him as he squatted near her and surveyed fog that lingered in the trees.

She pointed to herself and said ‘Mary.’

He understood her meaning, her name and repeated it back to her, thick with accent. He told her his, but she struggled to repeat it. It was a long name. The sounds of it clashed together and her tongue struggled to imitate it. Certain syllables of it reminded her of ‘Gawain’ the chivalric knight. Sarah had told her his story after her aunt had passed away. Mary remembered that Sarah laughed cynically as they curled into each other’s arms in the cold winter night. They both completely disbelieved that ever a man could be so good or courteous to a woman. Sarah said to Mary that they knew what real men were.

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