Jezebel, Part 3
Jezebel walked to the supplies cellar to go over inventory. She made rationing charts for the families in the village, setting aside a little extra for emergencies. There were two fresh deer hanging in the corner, and she saw the wolf hanging next to the older one. The body was turned with its back to her and fur covered the eyes so she was unable to see the scars. She stepped forward but stopped. The wolf was dead. She rationed the wolf to Elijah, Abigail, and herself for the week.
She left the supplies cellar and walked through the village. Men were out chopping wood for their fires. Children were chasing each other and playing hide and seek. She saw a woman gutting a rabbit through a window in a cabin. She looked over the houses and didn’t see any that needed fixing. The people in the village had managed to take care of themselves well, even when the king hadn’t.
Jeremiah had been holding Anna’s hand through the dark while Jezebel hid in the shadows of a cabin. The village had gotten together in the Great Hall and roasted animals for a large group dinner. Some of the men had whittled flutes and played music while they ate and talked with one another. The December weather hadn’t been unbearable, many of the men talked about the warmest winter they’d ever lived through, but Jezebel still found it cold. She had left for her cabin late in the night to retrieve an extra coat. On the way back she heard giggling and saw two bodies stopped in the middle of the path. Darkness covered them. Jezebel snuck behind the closest cabin, gripped the corner, leaned too far forward and stumbled.
“What the hell was that?” a man asked. Jezebel recognized it as Jeremiah.
“I don’t know,” a woman whispered. She turned around to look in the darkness. Anna tucked her blonde hair behind her ears and wrapped her arms across her chest. She cleared her throat with a light girlish laugh. Silence. The king was overtaken by the figure in front of him, overcome by the femininity.
“You’re his niece,” Jezebel had whispered to herself. She watched them leave. She was king a year later.
Jezebel sat on her bed and stared at the crown. The grass had been a light, dying green color when she received it but it had become a mottled brown. It was twisted into the twigs, between some and around others, until they all reached each other in the back and were knotted tightly. The ribbons were tied on either side of the knot and hung down from the shelf.
A knock at the door made Jezebel jump. “Come in.”
“Hey, Jezebel,” Elijah said. He shut the door and took his coat off. His shirt underneath was pulled tight against his stomach. “Look, I’m sorry for last night. I didn’t mean to make you angry, I’ve just been worried about you a lot lately. I don’t know what you’re going through, or how hard it is to be king, but I can imagine and I want you to know you can always talk to me. Okay?”
“Yeah, Eli. Thanks. I’ll be okay, but thanks. I appreciate it.”
“Anytime.” Elijah sat on the bed next to her. “Do you want to talk about anything?”
“Yes,” she said. “But not about that. How’s Abigail?”
“Oh, she’s good. As good as any twelve year old girl can be.” He chuckled to himself. “I think she likes that boy that lives down a few houses. Whatever his name is. I don’t know. She keeps talking about how they talk in class.”
“That’s cute,” she said.
“It’s more annoying, actually. Little sisters can be so annoying sometimes.”
“It can’t be that bad. She’s a sweetheart, so I wouldn’t worry. She’s only twelve.”
“Yeah, but she’ll be thirteen soon. Then fourteen, and fifteen, then comes the time when all she thinks about is boys and she’ll hate me for saying she can’t have them over all the time. I’m not prepared for that yet.” Elijah rubbed his eyes. “How’d you get so lucky?”
Elijah looked at Jezebel quickly. His eyes were wide taking her in, but she didn’t move. “I’m so sorry, Jez. I didn’t mean that at all. I am so sorry.”
“It’s okay. I know you didn’t mean it. It’s fine.”
“No, it’s not. I’m sorry.” Elijah stood up.
“Eli, it’s okay. Don’t worry about it,” she said, pulling at his arm.
“No, no. I need to go. I have to check on Abby anyways. I’m sorry, Jez, really. I’ll see you later.” He put his coat on and slammed the door behind him.
Jezebel stared at the door as if he would walk back in. She hoped he would walk back in, but when he didn’t she hung her head. She rubbed her hand over the place he sat on her bed.
When she was six years old she had class in the Great Hall with the other children in the village. She didn’t know the children as well as they knew each other, so she sat in the back row. A little boy and girl with matching short blonde hair sat next to her. They were twins.
“I’m Anna,” the girl whispered to her while an older man spoke to the children.
“I’m Jezebel,” she whispered back.
“That’s pretty. This is my brother, Eli.” The boy smiled but didn’t say anything. “He doesn’t talk much.”
“That’s okay. I don’t, either.” She played with the two blonde children every day.
There was a knock on the door. Jezebel didn’t say anything, didn’t want to talk to anyone but Elijah. Another knock came louder. She didn’t answer. The door opened.
“Jez, come on.” Elijah stood in the doorway.
“Eli, what are you doing?”
“I came to apologize.”
“You already did. Shut the door!” A burst of January wind filled the cabin. Elijah closed the door quickly.
“No, not really. I want to say sorry for everything. I’ve been a real pain in the ass lately and I’m sorry for not listening to you the first time.”
“Eli, it’s fine. Really.”
“No it’s not. I am sorry. Just accept it.”
“No, you didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Jez, please. I did.”
“God! Fine. I accept your apology. Will you leave now?” Jezebel rolled her eyes.
“Yes, I’m leaving.” Elijah opened the door. “Hey, Jez?”
“Have you talked to Anna?”
“You mean lately? Or in the last year?”
“Either.” He looked down at his boots. They were smudged with dirt from hunting.
“No. I don’t know where she is.”
“Okay.” Elijah turned, then paused. “You know, she lives in that cabin near the river. The one far down the bank.”
“Oh…Okay. Thanks. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Alright. Take care of yourself, Jez.”
“You too.” She watched him leave.
The sky was dark and the wind was cold. It cut. It cut through her like a thousand steel blades. Her arms were bare. The field she stood in was open and vast. Wide open and glowing. She couldn’t see the end on any side of her. It reminded her of a picture she’d seen once of her father and mother standing on a beach next to the ocean. It was so dark blue. The dark blue. She looked at the pale blue sky. Jezebel wasn’t in the snowy woods. Warmth. Grass. Yellow flowers. The field was warm, warm enough for her to be wearing a thin summer dress and no shoes. The tall grass was green. No trees. Grass. Her feet were soft and she wiggled her toes. Dirt caught. They became cold and she looked up. Snowflakes fell. Flakes of gold and flakes of scarlet. The snow blew west. The snow melted quickly and it was summer again. She took a step forward and tripped.