It was chilly, but the cold didn’t bother Myla. Dim sunlight struggled to peek through the heavy clouds. Fog covered the field and licked Myla’s heels as she ripped an onion from the ground. Myla tossed the onion in her basket and hurried home.
Myla’s home was a blemish on the face of the surrounding countryside. It was a heap of cracking plaster and warped wood. Her home looked no different than any of the other shacks that dotted the countryside of Bois-le-Duc. Poverty wasn’t relegated to only her family.
She gave the door to her home a shove. The cold had made the door swell like an old man in winter. It took everything she had to force the door open. Rusty hinges screamed in resistance.
A gust of heat wrapped around Myla as she entered the room. She sighed in relief as she trudged over to the freshly lit hearth. The one room home was filled with a thousand sounds from her family preparing for the day. The sounds comforted Myla. The welcomed orchestra of a happy family.
Myla’s mother took her basket. Myla’s mother was a thin woman who wore her age in thin lines around her eyes. Myla thought of her mother. She has been Myla’s age when she had given birth to her first child. Myla wondered if she was doomed to the same ravages of time.
Myla’s mother gave her a long-term hard stare. Myla squirmed under her mother’s observant eye. “There’s a bath ready. Go and scrub yourself. Use the soap on your hair.”
“But Momma, I barely started my chores! Breakfast isn’t even ready.” Myla said.
“You’re going into town this morning. You need to look your best.” Her mother said and turned her attention to the morning’s harvest.
“Into town? Why?” Myla shouted.
The house fell silent as half a dozen people turned their attention to Myla and her mother.
“Lord Du Bois seeks a new bride. All girls of age need to be in town this morning.” Her mother said as she chopped the onion. A tear slid down her cheek. Myla didn’t think it was from the onion.