West of Moonlight, East of Dawn

coming 2021 from Propertius Press

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… Under our cloaks and dresses, we were wearing last year’s clothes. They had been frayed, patched, and outgrown, but they were something to pull about us. Mother kept rocks in the hearth that burned to touch. She was wrapping them in rags and putting them in our beds. They held all the warmth left for us in the world. Father sat with his knotted hands on his knees, and his eyes downcast.

Then came a tap on the door.

No one moved. Our thoughts were heavier than rocks in the hearth, and already cold. But the tap came again, and my eldest sister rose.

“Who is it?” she called.

There was no answer but the blizzard. She was about to sit down when the storm tapped yet again.

“Who is it?” she called. “Tell us what you need, for our fire is nearly out and the night is bitterly cold.”

We heard a growly noise. “Did he say ‘curses’?” one of my sisters asked. My eldest sister’s face creased with puzzlement. “It sounded like the old tongue,” she said. “I thought he said ‘Ursus’.”