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The Old Woman

by Wishes

The old woman sat dreaming by the village well. The late afternoon sun, she always said, comforted her cold, old bones. At her feet sat a young girl.

"Don't sleep too many nights on the damp ground." Her words startled the young girl, who had been sure her grandmother slept.

"Mother said to bring you to the house when you woke." She spoke primly, mimicking exactly her mother's manner and words. But her eyes danced with the mischief of youth.

"Just a while longer," the old woman murmured. "Not too long--or we'll both be in trouble." Her eyes opened and matched her granddaughter's in mirth.

"I could probably listen to ONE story, if it was short," hinted the girl.

"I could probably tell ONE story, if it's not too long," replied the old woman. They both laughed, long-time conspirators at having fun.

The old woman folded her hands and began, "Together, we set out from Amphipolis on a VERY tall horse. . . ."

Two heads bent close together, one gray, the other burnished gold.

The two women stood in the shade of an old olive tree and watched the old woman and the girl.

"See, Mira," said the shorter of the two. "I told you those two were dawdling again. I'll never get the younger ones fed and into bed."

"But don't they make a pretty picture, Trione? Your girl looks just as you did when you were twelve."

Trionne studied her best friend, wondering whether to allow her legendary temper to rise. "And I suppose you'll say Mother looks just as I will when I'm her age?"

Mira laughed. "You could do worse. You know I've envied you your Mother since we were little girls playing around that same well. She always seemed so much more . . . .fun than the other mothers. The stories she could tell!"

"About her precious warrior."

Mira, who had a tender heart, but had long since learned to ignore Trionne's moods, continued. "Be glad you still have your mother with you. I would give anything to have my dear mother back. And she was far younger than yours."

"I know she's old, Mira. You don't have to remind me. It's Mother someone needs to tell. You know how she's always disappearing, sometimes with one of the children, more times alone. 'Just had to stretch my legs,' she says when we finally find her or she decides to come home."

"All the stretching those legs have had over the years, it's a wonder your mother isn't taller!" Mira giggled, and even Trionne had to join in at the old joke from their childhood.

"Mother wasn't young by the time she and Father married, and she was near forty when I was born," Trionne reminded her friend. "All those wasted years, chasing around the countryside after that woman! And even after all that, does she end up in Corinth or Athens or some other city? No, she comes back to her home village and marries a blacksmith."

"Your father was a soldier, a brave man, my father always said."

"I'm not criticizing Father," Trionne hastened to say. "You know how close we were. And he was always so good to Mother. He was such a big man, but he was always funny and gentle. He used to call Mother his baby bard, even though he was ten years her junior."

"He was really ten years younger than your mother? I never knew that."

"And she's outlived him by seven years," Trionne added. She directed her attention back to her mother and daughter. "I wonder which story she's telling. I guess dinner won't be harmed by waiting a little longer. Yes, they do make a pretty picture."

The End


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