Mama was a woman of few words, and those she was begrudgingly
willing to part with could sting enough to make
eyes water. She took one look at Sunday's skirt and answered
her own question. "Dawdling in the Wood again. Well, I'm glad
you decided to come back before the bugaboos made off with
you. I'll thank you to take that spoon from your brother and
get to stirring the pot. He's been at it long enough."
"Yes, Mama." Sunday removed the kerchief from her hair
and slid her book into the pocket of her pinafore.
"Thanks, Sunday!" Trix happily handed over the spoon and
scampered off to meet Papa, Peter, and Saturday at the edge of
the Wood, at the end of their workday, just like he always did.
For all that he was two years her senior, Trix looked and
acted like he had stopped aging at twelve. His fey blood kept
him from growing at the same rate as his foster siblings -
ultimately, he'd outlive them all. His blood was also the reason
he was allowed to tend the cows but never milk them. Trix had
a way with animals, but milk from his bucket was always sour.
And if Trix stirred a pot for too long, the stew would be...
different. The outcome was never the same. The first time, the
stew tasted of the "nest venison, with seasoned potatoes and
wild mushrooms. The second time, it stank of vinegar. Mama
never let Trix stir the pot for too long after that. She said the
family didn't have enough food to go gambling it away, no matter
how delicious the end result might be. Mama only ever bet
on a sure thing.
Sunday worked the spoon absent-mindedly as she dreamt,
scraping the bottom after every three turns. Mama checked on
the bread in the oven. Friday set the table.
Most of Friday's dark hair was caught up into a knot, but
several curls escaped, much like the halo of iron gray snakes
around Mama's head. Friday had been mending - the straight
pins in a row down the length of her sleeve gave her away - and
she was wearing one of the patchwork skirts Sunday loved so
much. Friday was deft with her needle, her own nameday gift
from Fairy Godmother Joy. The fabric stallkeepers at the market
gave their rags and remnants to the church in lieu of their
tithe, and the church in turn gave them to Friday, along with
measurements of any newly orphaned children and what articles
of clothing they needed most. In return Friday kept whatever
small pieces were left. Eventually, those pieces made up
Friday's multicolored skirts. They were Sunday's favorite not
just because they were so beautiful and lively, but because they
were the result of many long hours spent toiling for the love of
children her sister might never know.
"Go fetch Wednesday down from the tower," Mama told
Friday as she set down the last fork. "Your father will be home
Papa walked in the door as if on command, followed by a
very weary Peter and a flushed and bright- eyed Saturday. Sunday
imagined that on the verge of death, her workaholic sister
would still be flushed and bright- eyed.
"Evening, my darlin'," Papa said as he hung his hat. "Fair
weather today, so there was work aplenty. Wasn't much we left
"Good, good," Mama said. "Go on, then, wash yourselves
for dinner." Peter was too exhausted to argue. Saturday kissed
her father on the cheek and scampered after her brother.
"Hello, my Sunday." Papa picked her up in his strong arms
and spun her around. She hugged him tightly, breathing in his
familiar scent of sweat and sap and fresh Wood air. "Any new
"I wrote a little," she told him. "I mean to do more
"Words have power. You be careful."
"Yes, Mama." She couldn't ever mention her writing without
this admonishment from her mother. Sunday tried not to
be disrespectful and roll her eyes. Instead, she concentrated on
Papa as he slowly lowered his large body into the chair at the
head of the table. "What of your day, Papa? Did you find any
new stories to tell?"
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