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Good night, Mrs. Stone

Posted on Wed Aug 31st, 2022 @ 5:08pm by Addy Stone

Mission: The Xiao Jin Chronicles
Location: Xiao Jin
Timeline: Mission Day 37 at 0300

It was sunny and warm, but the breeze that blew six-year-old Addy’s hair such that it tickled the back of her neck was cool, a sure sign that autumn was fast approaching. She was crouched next to the grist mill, an ancient stone thing that looked like it had been brought all the way from Earth-That-Was to Sweethome. She was enamored with her own head full of stories and had already thought up at least three fanciful tales of how it had come to be on their farm, none of them coming even close to the rather dull mundanity of the truth.

“You watch your fingers girl.” Hank Weysmith’s tone was sharp, but not yet mean. He wasn’t so mean when she was little. Or mayhaps he had been and she’d been too innocent yet to know.

“Yes Daddy,” she’d chirped back in her little girl voice, high and sing-song, any fear of the heavy millstone gone on the breeze like the chaff it was winnowing away.

Her father minded the motor that ran the mill, grinding and freeing the grains so that the excess was removed and the good wheat was kept to be bagged and sold. The harvest had been good that year and they’d already taken in the lower field with the upper two expected to be ready the next week. The heavy grinding scrape of stone on stone was the only sound that either Weysmith paid any attention to for several long moments.

“Daddy,” she finally piped up, curiosity overriding any sensible concern over interrupting him midway through the job. “How heavy is that stone?” She pointed to the wheel-like stone that turned on the spindle.

“Oh as heavy as any weight that could destroy a body,” her father had said absently.

Dismissively.




Good night, Mrs. Stone.

Addy shuddered as she climbed down the ladder into their… no… Quinn’s quarters. Absently her brain informed her she should start calling him Captain. That she’d no right to be so familiar as to use his first name any more.

Her booted foot slipped slightly on the bottom rung and she scrambled for a moment, clutching at the rungs as if her life depended on it, the shock of fear that ran through her made her eyes squeeze tightly shut.

Good night, Mrs. Stone.

The room screamed Quinlan Poe from every corner. The red embroidered comforter atop the bed they shared bearing the dragon–a nod to the nickname that Li Huan had given him. They’d made love on top of that dragon more times now than she could count. Had held each other under its warmth and whispered about the smallest most inconsequential things to each other.

Good night, Mrs. Stone.

The green blanket she so loved was bundled to the side as if it had been cast off hastily, a book settled on top of her pillow. Gently she removed it, and collected her pillow. She couldn’t bring herself to remove the green blanket. What right had she to any comfort now? To any part of him, no matter how small?

Good night, Mrs. Stone.

Her duffel, the one that had cut so hard into her shoulder when she’d walked the docks at Persephone, hoping beyond hope to find him, was tucked away and she pulled it out now, shoving things into it as quickly as her trembling hands could manage. She picked up one of his shirts by accident and froze, the softness of it in her hands making grief well in her throat. There was no one there. No shame if she let herself, for that one moment, take some small comfort.

She brought it to her nose and inhaled, the scent of him making her eyes leak hot tears as she quickly put it back.

Good night, Mrs. Stone.

Her bit of grass stayed too. It had been a reminder of her family. Of the farm. Now… for a moment she debated picking it up and throwing it. The desire to destroy something screaming to the forefront of her mind. She even went so far as to lift it, hefting it slightly.

But no. Even that held a memory of Quinn and though she’d give near anything to erase all other thoughts of Sweethome, those that held him were still precious to her.

Good night, Mrs. Stone.

She swept the rest of her life into the bag, taking only those things that were fully hers and leaving behind those that were theirs. She’d a penance to pay and she’d take it out in pain and loss.

Good night, Mrs. Stone.

Her old room was cold and she threw the quilt onto the small bed hastily, curling up on it quietly before gut wrenching sobs overtook her. She’d wanted so badly after Matthias had used her body for his own pleasure to strip out of her skin. She had wanted to rub herself raw until she bled out his touch. But even that bit of care was too much at that moment. Perhaps, she thought, she deserved the hot brand of his hands on her hips, on her breasts, on her sex.

It had hurt and in the moment she told herself she deserved that too.

Good night, Mrs. Stone.

She turned her head to look at the ceiling and it was gray and blank. No mural of stars painted whimsically over the bed. Her heart ached at the loss of such a simple thing.

With a near hysterical laugh she registered her father’s own voice in her head.

He doesn’t want you girl.

And now he was right. She’d been a fool to ever think that she was deserving of the dream of him. Foolish to think that her life should be anything other than the punishing weight of a millstone grinding away the chaff.

Even that guilt-laden grief couldn’t keep her from eventually falling to sleep and as she did, she dreamt of the sound of heavy stone scraping against stone.

 

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