A Short Trip

The Red Writing Hood prompt this week was to begin with the opening line:

“It was a rainy night in Dusseldorf…”

500 word limit.

I’m continuing from a previous response, which you can find HERE.  Go over to Write on Edge to add your link, or read the rest of the submissions.
Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
It was a rainy night in Dusseldorf, the streets empty except for the mail coach.

“We be packed in here right tight, eyah miss?” the jovial farmer across from her gave her a gap-toothed grin.

She mustered a wan smile in return, wishing he’d chosen someone else. “Like sardines in a can.”

“You’d know more’n me on that, from the shore, eyah? Plenty fishing out that way.”

“What?” her entire body tense, she spoke more sharply than she’d intended.

“Eyah, I travel t’market at Breda regular like, hear plenty of accents.” He tapped the side of his nose, a merry glint in his eye. “I’d bet my best heifer, you’d be from somewhere about Breskens, eyah.”

Her heart fluttering like a humming bird’s wings, she plastered a pleasant smile on her face. “Nieuwesluis.”

“Eyah!” he slapped his knee in triumph. “Last I was at Breda, I heard they had a witch a while back. Dealt her the water test. You heard ‘bout that?”

She twined her fingers in her skirts, trying to hide the tremble of anger that arose at the memory. “I heard the girl drowned – doesn’t that mean she wasn’t a witch?” She paused and pulled on a mask of indifference before adding, “Though I was not there at the time.”

The farmer’s gossipy smile faded somewhat. Dead witches were entertainment, dead girls, less so. “Huh, well that’s a right shame, that is – them witches be wily devils, eyah. Where be you headed, so far from home?”

“Oberentersbach.” The man had such a rambling manner about him, she hadn’t even paused to think about the answer. All this effort to stay hidden, and she would give herself up in exchange for sleep.

The farmer frowned. “In the black forest? There are witches there! What would bring a young girl alone to such a forbidding place?”

“An apprenticeship.” Exhaustion burned her eyes.

“Better to settle down with a nice young man in a good profession.”

A strike her own people had against her.

“I read about the position in the paper, wrote to my new employer,” she lied.

“Huh” he grunted disapprovingly. “Girls writing. Not proper.”

Strike two.

“Of course,” she snapped. “We wouldn’t want women to be educated, would we? God forbid they think for themselves!”

As with the people from her village, she read it in his expression. Witch.  Good Christian girls don’t talk like that.

She regretted losing her temper, regretted the loss of a seat on the carriage.

“Sleep!” she commanded.

The old farmer’s eyes widened in surprise at the outburst before drooping closed. The coach was filled with light snoring.

When the coach rolled to a stop, the reins slack, she hopped out into the rain. She flicked her second finger sharply against the pad of her thumb. The downpour continued unabated, the drops avoiding her.

“There’d damn well better be witches in the black wood,” she muttered, slogging down the road. “After all the trouble it’s taking to get there!”

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  1. Lance

     /  March 2, 2012

    Nice! The accents, the atmosphere, and the witches!

    This had a really special feel to it. I enjoyed it.

  2. Good job (as usual) Lexy, my only thought is the sardines in a can. Depending on the time period cans might or might not have been invented. Otherwise dead on great!

    • I was kind of picturing a steampunkish era for this story – people old-fashioned enough to still have the fear of witches and the unknown, with modern technology mixed in with the horse-drawn carriages. I checked online, and the first instance of canning food was a factory that was fully operational by 1813, selling canned goods to the british army. It’s amazing how early some technologies came into play! The salem witch trials were a bit more than 100 years earlier than that, a short time, in the grand scheme of things.

  3. Such a different read. Enjoyed it, wished it would have gone a little longer. Now my interest is piqued…..

    • thanks, glad you enjoyed it. I might try to post continuations of it in responses to prompts, so you might just find out the woman’s name at some point 😛

  4. Wow. I was impressed with the accents. That’s something I’ve figures how to write. You did a great job.

    The pace of this story was great. I read it through without stopping at anything. I like that’s she’s a witch and gives the farmer a difficult time.

    You also did a great with your character descriptions. It was easy for me to see this farmer.

    Interesting story and take on the prompt:~)

    • thanks! I really had fun trying to picture how the farmer would sound, and trying to write it without turning him into a charicature of himself.

  5. So, so glad the story continues! Great character, great voice. Love it. More, please!

    • thanks 🙂 I might continue it in another prompt, if i can come up with an idea for it.

  6. Wow Lexy – what great use of dialogue!

  7. I love stories about witches, because anything can happen. Great job! My only question would be about the time period–someone already pointed out about the sardine cans, so I don’t need to repeat. I hope that you continue this story!

    • that aspect is what I like about witch-stories as well – strange things can happen, and it makes sense for them to happen. I mentioned in another reply that I’m kind of mixing time-periods in this – a belief system as paranoid and suspicious of magic as salem circa 1792, canning like you could have found in the early 1800’s in england, and actual magic (possibly no actual era, buuuut… I’d like to think it exists 😉 ).

  8. Well done. I liked it.

  9. You really drew me into this story, the pace and the accents were great, but just one problem–it almost sounds as if you disagree with the farmer when he points out: “Girls writing. Not proper.” 🙂

    Seriously, well written.

    • hah, well, I’m such a radical – expecting so much from us simple females, reading and writing and all. What next? The vote, maybe? 🙂

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