|A Month of Sundays
Author: Sayaxchihiya PM
Izabel Lofgren's life is all set. She's engaged to be married and has already forsaken the frivolities of childhood. Her perfect plan starts to unravel when her secret talent is discovered and she is sent a long way from home.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy - Chapters: 37 - Words: 85,148 - Reviews: 20 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 8 - Updated: 11-27-12 - Published: 11-27-11 - id: 2974617
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Izabel Lofgren was the happiest she had ever been. The kitchen of her family's small farmhouse was packed with relatives. Her aunts hovered over the fire and flew through the room carrying steaming plates of food. Older cousins watched as younger one scurried underfoot and bothered the family Rottweiler, who snapped at them, more out of annoyance than malice. In the center of the kitchen Izabel stood, perched on a wooden stool as her mother hemmed Izabel's long, white dress. She stood as still as a statue and watched her extended family flow around her. On her crude, wooden stool she felt important. She was the reason why the family was assembled. The food, the dress, they were all for her. She enjoyed the attention that was lavished on her and she deserved it, Izabel thought. After all, she was the one saving the family.
She looked down at her mother, who knelt on the ground to hem Izabel's dress. Every part of her looked tired. The soft skin around her mouth was etched deeply, like an aging fruit. Her pallid blond curls hung limp and deflated around her face. Her brow was furrowed so intensely that her eyebrows almost met in the middle. "Mother," Izabel asked. "What's wrong?"
Her mother looked up at her. She smiled, but her upturned lips had a feeling of insincerity to them. "Nothing," she told her daughter. "Just a hard stitch." Mother looked down again and the two were silent, an unspoken feeling of sadness hanging between them. The sounds of aunts and cousins filled Izabel's ears as she tried to ignore her mother's mood. She cared for her mother, but she wanted her mother to be happy for her. Izabel was getting married. The biggest moment in her life was three days away and her mother was dampening the excitement with her melancholy mood.
She sighed and tried to lift her spirits by thinking of her wedding day. Her family was by no means rich, but they scraped together everything they had to provide Izabel with a respectable wedding. The dress she now wore was a silk table cloth that one of her aunts had gotten from a friend who did laundry for a rich family. There was a greasy brown stain on the hip, but her mother made a sash from a butter yellow curtain to cover the spot. Her father had worked all that afternoon building a trellis out of scrap wood for her to be married under. He had pulled the trellis by himself up a hill that overlooked the family fields. The climb up the short hill took him ages as he fought with his bad knee, jerking and swearing, but refusing all help.
Izabel thought of her father. Growing up he had always been caring but distant, choosing to spend his time in the fields or with his drinking buddies rather than his daughter. She always thought that it was from the excess of females in and out of the house. Along with his daughter and wife, Alfred Lofgren had to deal with his wife's six sisters, Izabel's aunts, that frequented the farmhouse. Now that she was getting married, Izabel was sure that her father and her future husband would be fast friends.
When Izabel first met Morris Presson, she didn't think much. He was about as average as anyone could imagine, with hair that wasn't quite brown and not quite blond and watery grey eyes. His family owned the large farm bordering the Lofgren's property and Izabel often saw him working in his father's fields, a distant speck on the rolling, green horizon. However, she didn't think much of Morris until her father started to age. Mr. Presson started negotiations with Izabel's father to buy their property out from under them. To him, it seemed to be an act of kindness. Mr. Lofgren had no sons to work the land for him and it was obvious that he couldn't continue his farming for long. Still Izabel's father refused, choosing to work, even though he pained with age.
It was Izabel herself who came up with the solution of marriage. She knew that Morris had eyes for another girl, but she pursued him anyway. Izabel was subtle with her flirtations, though, always finding a way to worm herself closer to Morris; visiting him in the fields, running errands for his mother, or "accidentally" running into him at the market. He was resistive at first, but he grew used to her company, missing her on days when she was sick or busy. Soon, he came calling after her.
He was nice enough. He opened doors for her and held her hand, and she soon became used to his clammy palms. His family approved of her and hers of him and they fit together with a quiet, if uncomfortable dynamic. Morris did have his faults, though. He hated animals and refused to let Izabel bring the family dog to their new home. He also had a quiet way about him and often left Izabel to lead the conversation. Still, Izabel liked the attention he gave her and was proud of herself for coming up with the perfect solution for her family.
When she married Morris, his family would get all of the Lofgren's land. Mr. Presson, Morris, and his brothers would tend to all the land while Izabel's parents would still live on their property and be cared for by the Pressons. Her father could retire, but not have to leave the land he grew up on. It was the best thing for everyone.
People began to disperse from the packed kitchen as little ones needed to be shuttled off to bed. Mrs. Lofgren returned her pins to their cushion and wound up the rest of her thread. "We can finish this tomorrow," she told her daughter as she helped Izabel out of the dress, leaving her in her thin slip. She nodded and yawned, padding off to her room to get ready for bed. After changing into a nightgown and running a comb through her snarled curls, she lay in bed and waited for sleep to calm the anxiousness in her stomach.
She found herself standing in one of her father's fields several hours later. Sleep never came and the moon shone through her window too brightly for her to relax. She grabbed a lantern and fled the house, the feeling of her sleeping family making the house feel stuffy and suffocating.
As she walked past short stalks of summer corn, she considered what the impending days would bring. When she was younger, she and her friends had snuck off from their parents during a festival to see a palm reader. As Izabel thought about it now, she considered it an immature a frivolous thing to do, but she still smiled as she remembered. She, Sophia, and Kelly elbowed each other and laughed all the way to the palm reader's tent as they tried to look as casual as possible. Sophia went first and giggled when she was told how many children she would have. Kelly blanched at the prospect of her early death before letting the palm reader have her turn with Izabel. For the life of her she couldn't remember how long she was supposed to live or how many children she would have, but one detail stuck in her mind. The palmer reader looked up from Izabel's hand and stared at her with milky eyes. After a tense moment, she told her "Your life will start young" and let the girls leave.
For years the phrase baffled her, but it made perfect sense to her now. She was fifteen and engaged to be married. That's when her life would start. She had seen the differences already. With the wedding preparations in full swing, she felt distant from her childhood friends. She knew that in a few years that distance would grow as she would be busy with her eventual children and keeping a household in order. The thought didn't bother her, but it did tickle in the back of her mind. She had her fun and now it was time to grow up.
She reached a clearing beside one of the fields in view of the hill and the trellis. It was too dark to see the trellis, but she knew it was there, and that made her stomach flip. She brought the lantern up to eye level and felt her eyes shrink and squint. Izabel opened the punched metal door to expose the flame, which shivered in the wind. She put her hand up to the fire, whistling to coax it forward, as if it were a songbird in a cage. The flame climbed up her finger and rested in her upturned palm. She felt the familiar sensation of the ball of flame; burning hot with a cold middle and light as a pile of feathers. Izabel gave the fire free reign and let it crawl painlessly up her shoulders.
Izabel never remembered when she discovered she had a way with fire. It was a part of her for as long as she knew. When her mother left the kitchen at night, she would pick all the flames off their candles and switch them to a different perch, laughing as they crackled in protest. She remembered burning with jealousy upon seeing the cake during Kelly's tenth birthday; Izabel wished her family had the money to afford ten candles, one for each finger.
She was never afraid that her family would reject her talent, but she still kept it a secret. Izabel had almost nothing to call her own; her clothes where made from old sheets and curtains the family had used and her bedroom was an extension of the pantry. She was even giving herself away for the benefit of her family. Keeping this one part of herself personal made it all the more special for her. It was something that could never be taken from her.
So she danced in the clearing, feeling the flame run over her like a warm wind. Her troubles left her as the night grew older and the fire grew brighter. When she was tired and coated in a skin of sweat, Izabel returned the flame to its lantern, the small fire pulsing as if it were panting from the exercise. She fastened the door of the lantern and made her way to the farmhouse. As she walked through the new corn, she felt a hand on her shoulder that stopped her cold.