Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | March 5, 2009

Homefamily

Romania. June, 2004.

train-to-arad-white

Part 1: Glass For Seeing

Part 2: Where the Peaks Meet Sky

Part 3: Circle of Seven

Fifteen minutes later I had no idea why I’d said I was ready. I wasn’t even close to ready to leave home and head out into the unknown. Who was I kidding? We could all get devoured by evil mind spiders, and the only person who could really protect us from that kind of danger was over 100 years old. Sure, this was the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with Wes… but I was starting to realize that he was less that thrilled to be stuck with me.

Rolph was beside himself with joy, of course. He followed at Kilton’s heels like an obedient wolf-hound, asking can-I-help? what’s-this? teach-me-how-to-use-it? as we struggled to piece together supplies for our who knows how long trek. Y’nessa’s helpers had already started, but she hadn’t expected to leave so quickly.

I needed an excuse to get away from the madness, and it came when Trill tore through a freshly packed bag crying out, “where’s the sugar for the lightstones?”

“I’ll get some,” I offered, pushing my way throught the chaos of voices and luggage all squeezed into Y’nessa’s stone-sheltered home.

Outside, the sun was peaking in a blue sky spotted with thin, lazy clouds that didn’t seem to be in any hurry to get anywhere.

I stuck my tongue out at them, and rushed down the familiar paths to my family home. Rolph and I didn’t have our own bloodmother any more, but we had three homemothers, two homefathers, and about a hundred homesisters and brothers. Ours wasn’t the biggest or the smallest home, but it was notorious for being one of the loudest. Probably because there were so many kids.

Peony greeted me at the door, her doughy hands reaching out to clasp mine. “So, you’re leaving us?”

I guess the journey wasn’t a secret. Peony’s lifepartner Isa, my own bloodmother’s sister, heard my voice and hurried in from the yard holding a tiny baby. I don’t think it belonged to our home, but sometimes I lost track.

“Rune. I have something for you.” Her gray eyes shut for a second, and I wondered what she was thinking. Maybe she was glad to get rid of me. The fact that I look like my mother hurts her more than anything sometimes. I can tell.

“I just need sugar.”

“I’ll get that for you.” Peony shuffled off into the outdoors kitchen, taking the baby from Isa on her way past.

We were as alone as you ever could be in a house full of kids. I estimated it would only be about thirty seconds before a homebrother dashed in with a handful of river stones, trying to cast spells. But Isa didn’t waste any time. She led me to her room and reached below the bed, pulling out a small wooden box.

“I don’t know what’s inside.” Her voice was almost ghostlike, and I stepped back. Wishing I’d stayed at Y’nessa’s.

Then she handed the box to me.

“Um,” I said.

“It was your mother’s.”

“Okay.” Isa had a way of never explaining quite enough. I wasn’t going to get any more words out of her about it, I knew, so I looked for a way to open the lid.

“Not yet!” Isa’s voice was so sharp, I almost dropped the thing. “You’ll know when the time is right.”

“Fine. Um, thanks.” I backed away.

To my surprise, Isa strode across the room and wrapped me in her arms. I tried to remember the last time she’d hugged me and then just stopped thinking and hugged her back. She smelled like sweat and soil after it rains.

“Goodbye, Rune. Take care.”

“You too.”

That’s when  my homebrothers Filo and Ferth came careening through the door, whacking each other with sticks. I slipped away, remembering at the last second to get the sugar from Peony.

Part 5: Tinderdeer

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