Second bit of Ocher’s Daughter

Her father’s pack was a curious thing of old leather, well-worn and supple. Curious symbols were carved into the handles of the pack, and her own mother had sewn thick patches over a pair of holes that had developed in two corners.

Florence lifted the leather pack to her face, and closed her eyes. It smelled like her father, and reminded her of her mother’s laughter. A pang of pain shot through her heart. I hope they’re in a nice place, she thought.

Florence sniffed, and finished her packing. She had few things to prepare, and when the leather was stuffed with her knickers and spare outer shifts, she changed her shoes, and settled the pack over her shoulders. Town shoes would not do for the wild places, she told herself with a smile, as she laced up her mother’s riding boots. Vince will like these; the thought echoed deliciously in her mind. Florence was quite sure that Vince had never paid much attention to her; she did not mind this state of affairs.

Papa had been jealous of Florence’s time; he had often told her that she had better wait for the goddess to speak, before she sought out a man.

“You’re too young for courting,” he had said, oftener than usual, at the end of his life. Florence’s father had grown old and gray, those last few years. Her mother had died when she was still a girl, and Florence sometimes suspected that her father had only gone on living with the idea of raising her to adulthood. He died soon enough when I was of age, she thought, as she heaved her trunk towards the front of the house.

Florence missed her father, but he had been a curious man, full of secrets, and he had been preparing her for his death for a very long time.

“I will rejoin my people in the sky,” he had said over the years, whenever his eyes had turned thoughtfully to the fire in the hearth. “You will be alone then, but I will watch over you, and your mother will. You must be ready for me to leave you alone.”

Vince won’t be able to leave me alone, if we go on a monster hunt, Florence told herself, and a thrill of interesting sensations flooded her chest. She dragged the chest over the threshold, and the scraping of the treated wood filled her with a strange loneliness. It will be good to go away for awhile, she realized, and sudden tears rose into her eyes.

I knew my father would die; I knew it was coming, she told herself, and she looked swiftly over the interior of the front room. Just leave, just go, she thought, and she yanked the heavy trunk onto the stoop, and locked the door of the house.

I don’t know why I never thought of hunting the monsters before, Florence told herself firmly, and she settled her shoulders, and heaved the chest down the front steps.

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