You can see the prompt from Write on Edge and submit your own by clicking the image below.
I’d also like to mention – I mean no disrespect by using the word Gypsy. But not using it would kind of take away any level of authenticity from my MC. After all… what farm boy ‘way back when’ would have known that ‘they prefer Romani’?
Sam stumbled down the rutted road, shaking in the cold night wind off the plains.
Icy fingers clutched tight at the thin cloth of his coat. Teeth chattering, he looked longingly back down the road, his entire world out of sight.
The girls would be snug in bed, he knew, their dolls tucked under their arms. Who’d take care of them now?
He scrubbed at the tears coursing down his cheek and steeled himself.
No going back. Pa’d always done right by the girls, at least. They’d be fine.
Sam blew on his hands and broke into a clumsy jog, pain stabbing him with each jarring step.
The moon was nearly set when he saw the fire. Exhausted and aching, he didn’t try to hide. They could be murderers as long as they let him die by the fire.
He passed a tree strung up with charms, and even in the thin moonlight, the wagon was brightly coloured and intricately patterned. Gypsies.
Thieves and murderers, the lot of them, his memory growled in his father’s voice, fetch my gun, boy, don’t dawdle.
Sam shook his head. Pa’s opinion of good and bad wasn’t very trustworthy.
A branch snapped under his foot and the murmur of conversation around the fire died. One man called out cheerfully,”Ye’re late, lad – what took ye?”
The others around the fire laughed as though the man had made a joke. Sam sidled forward and smiled cautiously.
“I-you-um…” he stared, wide-eyed, at the motley group and swallowed. “Wha’?”
“She told us to keep dinner.” a hulking man leaned forward, a wicked scar cutting his face in two, gold teeth gleaming with fire.
A boy about his own age grinned less ominously and added, “Yeah, Shuv’ni shoulda said t’make ye breakfast!” He nudged the girl beside him, who snorted sourly.
“What do you expect, me reading in a moving wagon?”
Sam blinked at that - Readin’s fer the rich, Pa said. But what did reading have to do with predicting his arrival? Magic, his imagination hissed. He shuddered.
“Come closer, boy, warm ye’self,” an ancient woman with bright birdlike eyes commanded from her rocking chair.
Sam stepped forward, blushing at the Gypsies’ gasps of dismay. A woman made a low pained noise, like a kicked dog. He had a good idea of what he looked like. Pa never bothered avoiding the face.
The old woman pursed her lips disapprovingly, “Shuv’ni didn’t warn o’ that neither.”
The girl darted forward, grabbing him by the face. She prodded him everywhere it hurt, making him yelp.
“I need to read the bones,” she muttered, turning away. Before she disappeared into the wagon she added, “By the by, your ribs’r cracked. Gran’ll do for ye”
Gran rolled her eyes and said, “Come sit by me, boy.”
“Why… why are you all being so nice?”
The gold-toothed man laughed, tugging a woman out of the shadows. “We do right by family, don’t we, luv?”
Sam gaped as a ghost from his memories stepped into the firelight. Wordlessly, the woman hugged him tight.