Friday, March 23, 2012

Z is for Zethan



I have mixed feelings. I loved doing these letters. They helped me exercise my imagination, explore my characters and meet some new ones. This game made me get in touch with my inner writer and get back on a track that was sorta derailed.

Thanx for enjoying them, and reading them, I appreciate the support, like always.

Soooo....When I  sat down to write Z, Erron, a character very recently in the letter Y told me she was not done w/ me, and she presented me with more than her story. Perhaps later I will have even more from her and Jarek.

This story is once again dedicated to my bestie Jo-Anna, and also my big sis Kerry. Both will know why they read it.  Love you both!

Hope everyone enjoys meeting Zethan!

The little boy was clutching his knee, sobbing. No one was around him, parent, child, or otherwise. As she got closer, Erron saw how tattered he was. His breeches had long since lost their hem, and they were at mid-calf, several sizes too small. His tunic wasn’t faring much better. It might have been off-white or tan once, but it was black with dirt and other things Erron had no desire to know about. His hair was shaggy, long, and dark, and he was painfully thin.
Erron set her full basket of food down on the ground and squatted in front of him. Blood ran down his slender shin but the cut wasn't bad. He shied away from her, his dark eyes wide and locked onto her wares from the market.
“Are you all right?” she whispered, shifting to block the view of what she’d bought. She wasn’t concerned about him dashing off with anything. He was obviously a street child, and hungry. Erron would make sure he was fed, but she wanted to speak with him first.
Those dark eyes darted to her and then away. He looked down, but not before she saw the tracks his tears marked through the dirt on his face.
“Hey,” she said. Instinct told her not to touch him. He would lash out in some way.
“He won’t speak,” a voice called. Erron looked up. A well rounded older woman swept the area in front of her dress shop. She tsked as she worked, frowning in Erron’s direction.
“Do you know him?”
The woman neared, but the boy started to scoot away, shooting a wary glance in the shopkeeper’s direction. She paused and he stilled. Had he been the victim of her broom? Or worse? Erron bit back a scowl.
“He used to live around here.”
“And now?” Erron asked.
“He’s got no people. They died.”
“And the boy? Who cares for him?” But the answer was obvious. No one. Her chest constricted.
            The woman rested her hands on her ample hips and glared. “Am I supposed to feed the lot of them? Street trash, all of them. The little ones never survive.”
            Erron gasped. Even in Dalunas, where she had moved from with her husband, there were places the homeless could go for a meal. Did Greenwald have none?
            “Isn’t there any place for him?” she whispered, more to herself than the woman.
            “Aye there are a few, but not for one so tiny. He’s not but four or five turns old. He never makes it in.”
            Tears clouded her eyes and Erron swallowed hard. The matter of fact tone made it hard to breathe. Why didn’t the woman help him?
            She stared at the child, but he wouldn’t look at her. “Do you know his name?” she asked without looking at the offending dressmaker.
            “Nay. He usually runs with some older boys. But I haven’t seen them of late.” She tsked again and moved on, as if she didn’t have time to continue the conversation.
The woman shooed a cat from her porch and continued to tidy it, whistling to herself. Erron bit her lip to keep from calling out an unpleasant name.
            “When is the last time you ate anything?” she asked the little boy.
            He didn’t acknowledge her. Erron’s heart ached. She reached into the basket and pulled out an apple. Holding it out to him, she held her breath. Waited. Waited some more.
            Finally those dark eyes looked up at her, tears still streaming. He snatched the fruit and attacked it, taking a bite bigger than she would have thought him capable. Tears clouded her eyes and cascaded. She swiped at her cheeks. The little boy stopped chewing.
            “Why are you crying?”
            Erron jolted. That was the last thing she would have imagined their first conversation to start with.
            “No worries,” she answered quickly. “Do you want to come home with me?”
            Wariness flashed across his gaze. Innocence should be what was staring back at her, not automatic mistrust. Erron’s stomach flipped.
            “I promise I won’t hurt you. I can clean you up. Get you some new clothes and a descent meal.”
            And then what? Was written plainly in his expression. That was a good question. What would happen next? Could she and Jarek keep him? Her heart stuttered. They could raise him. They could have a son. If he had no one…
            Erron chided herself. She was a bit much, wasn’t she?
            The boy studied her as he continued to eat the apple. “I’ll go.” His whisper was so low she almost missed it. She smiled at him.
            He stared up at her as she stood, clamoring to his feet after a moment. Tossing the apple core to the street, he offered her his small dirty hand as if it was the most natural thing in the world. She took it. Rightness settled over her.
            They walked through the market, dirty looks being thrown their way from every direction. Erron ignored them, clutching him to her and continuing on, headed to her husband’s tanning shop.
            She heard the slap of his tools against raw hide before she saw him working at the rack. Erron smiled and looked down at the child.
            “This is Jarek, my husband.”
            Jarek looked up from his work, a smile on his handsome face. He stood, his expression becoming concerned when he took in the boy.
            “Love?” he asked, wiping his hands on a linen scrap and tossing it to the workbench top before coming over to them. “Who’s this?”
            “I don’t know his—”
            “I’m Zethan,” the boy announced, cutting her off. “I’m five turns old.”
            “Hello, Zethan,” Jarek said, grinning and squatting in front of him. He thrust his large hand out. The little boy pulled away from Erron and pushed his hand into Jarek’s.
            Her heart hammered and the two males blurred before her. She was looking at her husband and child.
            “Oh. She’s crying again,” Zethan said, cocking his head to the side.
            Still holding onto Zethan, Jarek stood and reached for her hand. He leaned in to kiss her cheek.
            “Sometimes, it’s okay to cry, Zethan,” Erron explained, clearing her throat.
            “I cried when I fell.”
            “That’s fine, too. I cry when I get hurt sometimes,” Jarek answered, winking.
            Zethan’s eyes widened. “You cry? But…you’re grown up.”
            “Sure, even grown men cry occasionally.” Jarek chuckled at the little boy’s incredulous expression.
            Chatter continued and Erron could only stare. Jarek and Zethan had taken to each other like a fish to water. If she tried to talk with them, she would sob. So she watched. The little boy flashed a shy smile, then laughed. Twice.
            Jarek showed him around the shop. Zethan reached out, petting the deer hide Jarek was working on, but her husband let him explore without admonition. He did so, while they both watched and Jarek came to stand by her. He took her hand and kissed her knuckles.
            “Is this all right?” she croaked.
            He flashed a tender smile. “I told you so, my love.”
            “The Blessed Spirit would bring us a child when it was time.”
            Tears cascaded again and he yanked her into his arms. “I love you,” she whispered.
            “Being a girl is tough, huh?” Zethan asked, his hands on his thin hips, and facing them as he stood next to the hide rack.
            Jarek threw his head back and laughed.

All rights reserved; copyright © C. A. Szarek. The text within may not be reproduced in whole or in part or distributed in any form whatsoever OR SOLD without first obtaining permission from the author.


  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!! It's my favourite!!!

  2. LOVE IT!!!!!!!! Saved the best for last, I see. :)

  3. Beautiful, Chrissy!!! Great job!!

  4. It's the perfect ending to the Alphabet Game!!! I so love this Chrissy! :D gosh, you made me tear up since the second line! Knowing that it's for Jo-Anna and Kerry.. :) it's really, really beautiful!

  5. I bawled my eyes out by the time I was finished so I had to read the ending again. Lol! They were happy tears of course!! :)

  6. Thanx guys. I wasn't intending for people to cry, but that seems the consensus. But, I am glad you guys liked it. ;)

  7. I love it...sometimes life makes the little ones so wise...and of course, love is love, and conquers all!!!

  8. OMG OMG OMG!!!My heart goes out to them! Love it Best one for last. Great Great job Chrissy!