November 23 – Shared Property

NaNoWriMo: Posted November 23@11:37p

I need to change up the setting of Bankim and Sita’s home in Loches. I wanted to include a very traumatic scene for Sita, but I do not want the action to be carried out by Bankim. So, I decided there needs to be a shared homestead where three families own a shared piece of property.

Sita held Bankim’s hand for the first time as a couple on their return home from dinner. They ate at a restaurant offering the best of local fare within the heart of the city – the town square everyone called Diamond. It was their first night alone since coming to Loches. Sita finally felt secure enough to leave Tira with their neighbor Aisling. The older woman was fond of the baby.

“Are you comfortable with the fact that I’ve told everyone Tira is our baby?” Sita asked, rocking their hands back and forth through the air. She felt the freedom she always searched for in Lynthia. She felt the way she believed many teenagers felt in the Port.

“It’s better they think that,” Bankim said after a pause. “I don’t need them asking questions. They’re a simple folk. We’re a simple folk. Ain’t no one coming looking for us that way.”

“I like it that way too.”

Bankim turned his head, looking over at Sita. He walked the path of a fairy tale…all because this woman touched his arm and told him that he didn’t need to be alone.

He believed her.

As they approached their nook, Bankim pulled Sita back. The fireflies danced throughout the garden. He’d capture a few, just for tonight, to use like a nightlight so he could watch his new family sleep.

“There’s more tonight than last night,” Bankim said with a nod.

“They know who grows the best flowers.”

Sita giggled.

It’d be the last time he heard it.

[NAME] and [NAME]’s homestead was pitch black. The couple normally went to sleep early and rose with the sun. They had no children and liked their very scheduled lifestyle.

As expected Aisling and Calbhach’s homestead was aglow.

“Is that Sadie?”

A small shadow with characteristic pigtails knelt between the fruits and vegetables. She stood then knelt. She walked away and returned.

“What is she doing?”

“Let’s find out.”

The two hasted their step, snapping branches and crunching leaves without a second thought. The noise caught Sadie’s interest. Her entire body twirled to the sound, stood and ran for them. She yelled, her voice raw.

Her words faded in and out.

“What is she saying?” Sita asked, her face dropping and instinctual panic kicking in.

Bankim released Sita’s hand. Sadie ran too fast and hard to ever stop herself. He grabbed her as she plowed into him and picked her up. Her legs wrapped around him, not on purpose, but because of the inertia she built up.

“You have to save them!”

Curling screams ripped the peace of the night air.

Aisling and Calb’s door flew open.

“Calb! Don’t!” Sita heard her neighbor’s plea clearly. A thunk followed. A cry – unmistakably Tira’s – screeched into the night. A scream unlike anything Sita ever heard before.

Sita’s scream matched it. “Tira!”

“Daddy’s sick again,” Sadie said to Bankim as she thrashed in his arms. She wanted down so Bankim was free to fix everything that was going wrong.

Bankim took Sadie by the armpits and put her down. “What do you mean sick?”

“He’s seeing things.”

“What kinds of things?”

“He’s calling the baby a bastard. He says he smells its evil.”

Bankim pressed on Sadie’s shoulder, pushing her to the ground, wanting her to sit. “Stay here.”

Sita was nearly at the homestead. Her hair and skirts flapped behind her as she ran until a body pummeled from inside through the door, and Aisling fell head over her heels onto the stone stepping porch. Bankim heard bones cracking from his distance, but the woman never stopped moving. She rolled and pulled herself up onto her hands and knees, her right hand reaching into her home vainly. Sita hair flew into her face as her body stuttered to an immediate standstill. Bankim never saw Sita freeze the way she did.

Aisling screamed, her right hand still in the air and her body fell back onto her heels. She looked like she begged for her life.

She pled for a life.

“Please Calb…please! She’s not a doll!”

Bankim recognized Tira’s cry from the walkway up to the protective ditch. It came across with undertones of pain. Bankim kicked the gate open as Aisling and Calb continued fighting, arguing with his arms raised above his head as he walked out from the home. Tira’s wails came from the small dark silhouette held between his hands.

“You allowed sin into our homestead!” Calb hollered at him wife, his back bending over. His uncontrolled temper shook. “This cleansing is your fault!”

Before Bankim could reach him, Calb lowered his arms, slamming the small possession he held down against the ground.

Tira’s cries stopped.

Sita’s heart felt too big for her chest. Its beat slowed, wobbled like the organ failed.

“My baby!”

She ran, faltering with every step. The world around her lost and gone. “My baby! He killed my baby!”

Her shrieks broke their third neighbor’s slumber. Bankim ran across Sita and tackled Calb, knocking him to the ground, and wrapped his hands around the man’s neck. He slammed the man’s head against the ground decisively. He slammed it a second time then punched him. Aisling moaned, begging him to stop the same way Sita’s whimpered for Tira’s life.

Sita feared walking any closer, fearing seeing her dead niece, feared seeing the possibility that the baby still lived after the trauma she’d been through. Sita feared knowing the answer.

“The homestead’s on fire!” [NAME]’s voice screamed from her doorway. Her husband ran for Bankim, who had just pulled his knife from his belt. Calb no longer resisted. Bankim didn’t care. He grabbed Calb by the top of his head opened his neck and slit it deep and wide seconds before [NAME] attacked him from the back. Bankim grunted from the hit. He rolled with the man but recovered his bearings quick enough to turn and punch him once across the face, leaving the older gentleman bleeding and in shock.

Behind him, the thatched roof of the homestead blazed. A child’s screams could be heard inside. Sadie’s sister. Bankim huffed air, trying to catch his breath as Sita scooped up her sister’s baby’s body and cradled it in her arms. The best night of his life had been destroyed in a split second. His life destroyed.

He looked across the yard, Sadie waited where Bankim told her to. Everyone’s life was destroyed on this night. Sadie was the only one not completely affected by the horrors of the night yet. The only one cognizant of the danger everyone was still in. Aisling suffered broken bones. Bankim made her a widow. If she moved from the homestead’s welcoming rock, it would have to be done with help. She’d take months to heal. Sita rocked on her knees, her face buried in Tira’s body. When Tara died the girl fractured, just as Bankim fractured when Jaith died. If it hadn’t been for Tira, she’d have scattered completely. Bankim wasn’t sure how she’d ever survive this.

Sadie screamed for her sister.

“Sarah!”

Bankim had forgotten about the screams from inside the home. The roof wasn’t meant to take on heat like this. If Sarah stayed in there, she’d be crushed when the rood gave way and caved in.

Bankim looked down at the blood covering his hands – he was a demon – but he wasn’t the one how set the homestead on fire. Calb did.

Bankim looked at Sadie once more, faithful Sadie who never moved. He looked at Sita then Aisling.

“You need to move from here,” he told her then rushed into the burning home for Sarah.

The heat inside was unbearable. Smoke filled the room but circled around the ceiling as it did when they cooked. The longer the fire burned the lower the smoke fell. Bankim heard Sarah’s cries. He could tell that she struggled for air. It didn’t take long for him to start coughing and fall to his knees. When he found her, she was curled into a ball along a side of the homestead. Flames dripped down from the roof around her. Bankim grabbed her by her arm and pulled her to him, smothering where flame caught her hair as he moved her. He wrapped himself around her and slapped out spots of fire on his shirt.

“You have to crawl forward,” he shouted, as well as he could, and pushed her forward with his body as he pawed through the thick smoke. His chest burned and he felt his eyelashes disintegrating. The wood above them creaked and a portion of the thatch fell into the homestead. It landed across the room from them. “Go fast!”

The largest creaking came as they passed a roof post. Cinders fell from above and landed on Sarah. She screamed in pain as her hair caught on fire. Bankim wrapped himself around her and used his weight to push her to the dirt floor. He covered her face with his right arm and beat the fire away with his left. She’d need medical attention if they—

A loud groan warned Bankim of his impending death, and the roof post toppled down onto them. The pole’s weight forced Bankim down on Sarah. The heavy wood crushed his lower spine. His legs no longer existed. Sarah shrieked. Bankim tried lifting himself.

“I’m stuck,” he told her between her panicked cries for her mom. “You have to go.”

It was like she didn’t hear him.

“You have to pull yourself out of here!”

He screamed at her before a small clean hand took a hold of Sarah’s soot covered hand. Sadie locked eyes with Bankim and pulled her sister out from under him.

“I’m sorry,” she said as her sister scampered to freedom.

“I’m sorry too,” he told her as she turned and left him behind.

So much for his fairy tale.

Sita sat in her empty homestead and finished her letter to her family.

Her gods would punish her for her choices but not before she punished herself.

She had been fortunate to find the Cadaver Bugs in the wood pile Aisling family brought to rebuild her home. Sita’s elixir wasn’t hard to make. She suffer for three days with a fever and nightmarish hallucinations before her body gave out.

She’d meet Judgment and be sent to a lesser world to prove herself worthy of making better choices. If she was lucky, she wouldn’t see her sister. She was ready to accept her fate, the shame she felt on Atala prepared her for what lay ahead.

WORD COUNT: 1817


 

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