To Kill a Kettle Witch by Barb Hendee

To Kill a Kettle Witch by Barb Hendee

Author:Barb Hendee
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2016-05-02T22:00:00+00:00


Show me what is in the sight

Show me what brings fight or flight

Blessed fire in the night

The tavern vanished and the mists rose. When they cleared, I saw my Renata lying on her back in a bed in our wagon. Her face was a mask of agony, and she cried out.

Leaving the bread and cheese behind, I ran.

When I reached our wagon, Alondra and our cousin Matilda were both there with Renata. Matilda had delivered many babies and was considered our family’s midwife. When I saw her face, I went cold.

She came from the bunk and met me at the door.

“Renata’s pains have come early, and the baby is breech. I’ve tried, but I cannot turn it. I will keep trying.”

I pushed past her and went to my girl, kneeling and grasping her hand. “It’s all right.”

She gripped down on my fingers. “Mama, it hurts.”

My stomach lurched, and I’d have done anything to take her pain into myself. “I know.”

That was the longest night of my life.

After hours and hours of torment, Renata finally gave birth to a breech baby—a tiny girl. With unspeakable relief, I laid the baby on my daughter’s chest. “What shall we name her?”

“Jolene,” she whispered. “I always wanted to be named Jolene.”

I smiled. “Jolene.”

Within moments, Renata began to bleed and there was nothing any of us could do to stop it. All my relief changed to panic as I tried to help Matilda, but the bleeding did not stop, and my daughter died while I was helpless to do anything.

My Renata was gone.

I don’t remember much of the weeks that followed. There is only so much anyone can take, and I had neared my limit. A parent should not outlive a daughter, and the world seemed a dark place.

I later learned that Alondra had cared for Jolene in those early days. One of the young women from our caravan was nursing a baby, and Alondra went to her for help. It was months before I came back to myself to lend a hand, and I was ashamed that Alondra had been so burdened alone.

“It’s been no burden,” she assured me. “Jolene is a dear child.”

And she was.

She rarely cried, and she learned to laugh early. We soon moved her to drinking bottles of goats’ milk and cared for her entirely by ourselves. It hurts to admit this, but I did not love her then. I think a part of me blamed her for Renata’s death, even though I knew such feelings weren’t fair.

A year passed.

I remember the day I came to love her.

She walked early. She did everything early. At just past a year, she was a tiny thing, smaller than any other baby her age, and yet she was nearly running.

One day, I took her outside with me so I could do some washing, and I set her on the ground. In a flash, she was off, racing for the hens pecking at the earth. With a squeal of laughter, she scattered them, and then she turned and looked at me and threw her arms in the air and laughed again.



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