Mary's Path

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Summary

Mary is just a child when her parents subcome to the sickness that is plaguing the capital. But she find herself under the protection of the Lady and is moved in to the castle. But when the Lady leaves the capital, Mary's life is once again turned up side down. Will Mary find her way to the life she is meant to live? Who are her true friends and can she find her true love?

Genre:
Fantasy / Drama
Author:
Dripping
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
56
Rating:
5.0 4 reviews
Age Rating:
16+

The beginning

Mary knew the sun was about to come up. She lay in her bed, waiting for the first light to find its way through the gap in the closed shutters. Under the covers it was warm, but when Mary got out of bed, she knew that the chilly morning air would make her shiver. That’s why she stayed under the blanket even though she knew she should get up.

Suddenly there was a loud coughing attack from the bed that was on the other side of the room. Mary forced herself to get up and wrapped her woolen shawl around her as she quickly walked over to the other bed. It was her mother who had coughed. Mary looked at her mother and saw the glossy look that, though it met her gaze, didn’t seem to see her. Mary was afraid of that look, her mother had had it for almost three days and Mary’s father had had it for almost five.

It had been almost two weeks since her father first got sick and then her mother had fallen ill, Mary thought. Now she was the one who took care of them and the household. She turned around and went back to her own bed. There, her dress hung over the headboard, and she hurried to pull it over her head. It did not offer any direct warmth as it was cold from hanging unused during the night. But it would soon get warm. She went up to the fireplace and stirred among the remains of the fire that burned there during the night, there was still embers left. It took a while for Mary to get the fire going.

Then she looked at her parents again before going down to the kitchen and out into the courtyard to collect water. The water tub that stood out in the yard had a thin ice layer. She had to use the bucket to knock holes in the ice in order to fill the bucket with water that she could carry in.

As she stood in front of the stove, she looked down into the pot where the porridge was boiling. Her mother made tastier porridge, when Mary cooked the porridge it either became too loose or she barely got it out of the pot. But when her mother made it, it was smooth and when you poured the milk, the porridge rose like an island in a white sea. When Mary poured the milk today, it got mixed with the porridge into an unappetizing gray sludge. She sat down at the wooden table with her bowl and as she ate her breakfast, she thought about what it had been like before her parents got sick.

Mary and her parents lived in a small house in the city’s artisan quarter. The house was not as large as the villas that were closer to the city center and the castle, but it was big enough for her father’s shop and for the family to live a comfortable life. Mary’s father was a silversmith, and he was skilled. Mary knew that several of the city’s wealthiest families ordered jewelry and other items from her father. Her mother used to be in the kitchen, behind the store, or in the store when Mary’s father was out in the forge out in the back. Mary could spend her days helping her mother, listening to her father tell her how to decorate a cup so that the characters seemed to be dancing, or she and her friends ran around the streets looking at everything that there was in the city. She knew almost every alley in this part of the city.

But it felt like all that was years ago, Mary thought. Now she, only ten years old, was in charge of the household and for her parents. She would soon have to go to the market and buy meat and maybe vegetables. But the money they had left wouldn’t be enough, she knew that. Dad’s shop had not been open since he got sick, the money had slowly but surely disappeared, and the price of food had risen. It was due to the sickness that ravaged the city. Farmers and hunters were afraid of becoming infected and did not want to enter the city to sell their goods. Those who came raised their prices.

Mary was thinking about if she would be able to open the store during the day when she heard another cough attack. She quickly got back on her feet and poured porridge and milk into two large bowls that she carried upstairs. Her father was still asleep, it was scarry the way he was breathing. But her mother was awake and looked at her with her foggy eyes.

“Good morning, mom,” Mary said as cheerfully as she could.” I’ve made porridge for you, I think I’m getting better at it,” she continued as she walked up to bed. “I want you to eat some, mom, you ate almost nothing yesterday.” Mary’s mother looked at Mary but did not react when Mary held out the bowl of porridge.

“I know you’re tired, but please try,” Mary coaxed. Her mother didn’t seem to hear her.

Mary put the porridge bowls on the floor and picked up a stool on which she placed the bowls. Then she started trying to get her mother to sit up in bed. By pulling, pushing and pleading, she got her mother to sit up hunched against the headboard. When she was done, Mary felt that she was warm and out of breath.

She took a platter of porridge and sat on the edge of the bed next to her mother. Patiently, Mary began to feed her. After what felt like hours, she had gotten her mother to eat a couple of spoonsful. When Mary didn’t think her mother would eat more porridge, she put down the wooden bowl and crawled over her mother to shake her father to life. He groaned in his sleep but didn’t seem to wake up.

“Dad, I really want you to wake up,” Mary said, shaking him a little more. Her father’s eyelids fluttered and opened. His eyes stuck on Mary, and he raised his hand and stroked it over her cheek. “Dad?” asked Mary, a lump in her throat.

“My good little girl,” he whispered with cracked lips.

“Dad, I’ve made porridge for you,” Mary whispered back, hurrying to get the other bowl of porridge. She helped her father eat a couple of spoons before he had a cough attack and after that he didn’t want to eat anymore.

“Dad, the money is almost gone. No one wants to help me because everyone is afraid of getting sick. I think I have to open the store today, but I don’t know how to do it.” Mary said as she sat between her parents in bed.

“My beautiful and talented daughter”, said her father, smiling,

“Daddy I need your help”, Mary asked, and a tear ran down her cheek. But her father had already fallen asleep again.

Mary climbed gently over mom and down on the floor. She was alone again, she had to do this on her own. Mary wiped her eyes on her sleeve, it was just baby’s that cried, and she wasn’t a baby anymore.

She took the bowls of half-eaten porridge and went down into the kitchen. After cleaning up after breakfast and milking the two goats, she opened the door to the small shop.

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