No Hope
A soft blue-gray light filled the mundane dining room illuminating only certain features of the fruit bowl that lay in the middle of an old wooden dining room table. The fruit was softly layered with dust; a reminder that she was the only one to eat the fruit.
"Fruit was only the Earth's way of giving you tooth decay," her Uncle would remind her with a sniff while turning down her offer for fruit. The fingers of her left hand ran over the salmon colored birthmark that was imprinted on her right shoulder. The mark was in the shape of a feather, its tip interrupted and tapering off. Despite the rest of her flame licked skin being as cold as snow, the mark resonated a comforting heat. Her milky blue eyes skimmed over the details on the windowpane, noting the creeping of the frost as a storm of ash fell from the sky to blanket the already covered ground. Her silver eyebrows drew together slightly in thought.
"Something troubles you, Ziva." Her Uncle's voice interrupted her thoughts. It wasn't a question, it was a statement. He knew how withdrawn she became when something weighed heavily on her mind.
"Just thinking about the market, Uncle." She did her best to sound convincing, flashing her sweetest smile. Uncle stared at her with an unconvinced half smirk, his bushy eye brows furrowing even further. He limped a little further, soft grunts escaping him as he struggled to take steps. She rushed over to help him, her feet softly but quickly padding against the wooden floor. Uncle waved her off, reaching the rickety old dining room chair. She took a step back, folding one hand over the other and dipping her head, her silvery gray, dreadlocked hair falling around her face.
Uncle eyed the young woman in front of him, glancing over the ice that infused with the dreadlocks. Her cheekbones were high, her jawline slightly pronounced and her eyes were a rare shade of pale blue, in the right light they looked almost white. She looked fierce yet soft, her modest light gray gown accented her bust in a manner most becoming for a woman of her stature while it fell loosely over the rest of her body and cover most of her feet except the tips of her toes. The hem of her dress was permanently stained due to the wetness of the snow and absorbency of the ash.
She was the only treasure in his modest cabin, and she would make an exceptional wife for any man in their village. She twirled her family's ring around her right ring finger—a small tigers eye was the main attraction on rose gold bands, her family's crest on either side of it. He smiled at her obedience, pleased at how well she was raised.
"Ziva please be seated," he nodded his head and she gladly did what was asked of her.
"What is it, Uncle?" Her eyes locked on him with worry, her hand resting over his and squeezing gently.
"How are your feelings toward De'lark?"
"De'lark?" Ziva's voice trailed off at the end of her question.
"Do you hold affections towards him?"
"Certainly not!" Ziva gave a soft chuckle, her nose scrunching at the thought of the warrior her Uncle had mentioned. As children they were no more than unfortunate acquaintances, he used to torment her by chasing her around the village and pushing her to the ground while making fun of her birthmark. His cruelty stuck in her mind like a tattoo on skin. "He is a fine warrior and he looks well enough, but I bare no affections towards him." And I never will.
"Well do you think you ever could?" Ziva opened her mouth to answer but paused, her eyes slitting with suspicion. Her back went rigid and her calm demeanor began to melt away.
"Why are you asking?"
"Because he's asked for your hand, Ziva." He paused, turning his gaze towards the fruit bowl in the center of the table. "And I accepted."
"You what?!" She hissed quietly, withdrawing he hand from his as if it were acid. A sadness flashed through Uncle's eyes at her reaction and disdain. She gave a pained and almost betrayed face, for her he had just signed over her freedom. For him, he saw this as the most reasonable opening for the future for his niece.
"He's a great hunter, and an even better warrior. He would be a fitting life-mate for you."
"NO BUT'S! You ignorant, ungrateful child that you are!"
A moment of silence passed between them. The weight of the words that her uncle had just laid on her was massive. Tears sprung fresh life into her eyes, her breath hitched and she slowly rose from her chair. The legs scratched roughly against the wooden floor as she stumbled back before turning her back to the broken man. Her uncle's face softened at the realization of his words. He opened his mouth.
"Z-Ziva!" She heard him call out behind her as she ran out of the door, allowing the cold air to swarm in the darkened house. She gripped her gown, willing her limbs to carry her further, faster. She passed houses, dodging early rising shop owners and homeless beggars.
Hot tears rolled down her rosy cheeks, her sobs barely managing to escape as she managed to collapse next to a wooden bridge that hovered over a frozen stream. She hid her face in the ashen ground, not caring that she was breathing in ash and snow. She turned to her side, stifling her sobs so as to not let her voice carry. Her knees drew closer to her chest and she cradled herself. There was no hope for her, it seemed, in this life. She felt the chill from the wind settle into her bones though she chose to embrace the numbing chill. Maybe numbing the pain would help her heal.