Cinda’s 8th Autumn : Calder on the Myrddin Sea
Cinda didn’t know that carrots could come out of the ground in different colors. But it didn’t matter. They were still carrots and Cinda knew that she did not like carrots.
Her Uncle Fox told her a story about a man named Smith who killed another man with a carrot once. It was what he had had on hand. He killed a man with his afternoon snack. It sounded much more violent than just serving the same bitter daily tea to an unloved one. But it was Mrs. Amanda Wash who told her those kinds of stories. Mrs. Wash would very calmly tell her tales of quiet and desperate assassinations, while her Uncle Fox was much more dramatic a storyteller, making hand motions and the occasional sound effect.
“If you sweeten the cooked carrot,” Mrs. Wash suggested, and by this point Cinda wouldn’t eat anything the woman cooked, carrot or not.
“If you slip it into the stew, the girl will never know,” Cinda had overheard.
“She’ll just fish it out, straight onto the table, stubborn girl; stubborn as a Wyatt,” Elise had countered. Aunt Elise had been born a Wyatt so she knew stubborn, which was why she refused to fish out the carrots from Cinda’s plate beforehand. Even when it meant the inevitable lecture on manners and groans and glares from around the table.
“Why are you so weird?” Felix Kinley wanted to know. From the echoes of “yeah!”, it was apparent he wasn’t the only one who wanted to know. Cinda lifted her pointed chin a fraction and narrowed her eyes much more. Someone decided just then to answer before her and it went very badly after.
Barney Quillam had said, “All the Wyatts have lost it–all mad–all drunks. You heard about her Aunt Elise.”
Well, Aunt Elise’s youngest son Mem heard from the next table over. He very slowly stood and launched his empty bowl at the boy’s head.
Cinda stood before her Father with dirt smudged cheek and luncheon splattered all over her dandelion yellow summer dress. It had been a new purchase for her new school–where they serve stew with carrots, even when it is hot out.
“Even though she knew it was bad manners to scoop the carrots out of her bowl in public. Even though she placed them on her cloth square to dispose of afterward. She was that repulsed by the chunks of orange–earth–.” She stopped, and grimaced in an unplanned but dramatic improvement to her story. Her father waited patiently. He had, after all, grown up with her Uncle Fox.
“That Felix Kinley had to make a big deal out of it all.” She pressed her lips into a straight line. She was still angry these twenty minutes later, her Father having to come to the school and fetch her. “He couldn’t mind his own business. And if it were not for the Mrs. Mortenkiss making her sit at those hooligans’ table.”
Her father brushed a piece of potato from the tangle of her hair and collected her stew and temper stiffened form to him. “You mustn’t let them rile you, Cinda.”
“I had to stand up with Mem.” Mem: who would take up her filthy habit of fishing out the carrots and flopping them out onto the table.
“Yes, Cinda, but did you have to punch that boy in the face?”
If only Mem’s bowl hadn’t missed.
“And did you have to kick those carrots at Felix Kinley?”
by Leslie Darnell
proceed to “winter and werewolf, part 1”