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By , San Jose, CA
Emeline was a small young woman, but very spirited for her time. She had soft, brown hair and delicate green eyes that showed her longing to be independent. Emeline was the wife of Ulric. Ulric had met Emeline while visiting a market near the town. She was fourteen. The girl’s father was a poor farmer who put his only daughter and his own wife to work each day in his fields. The soil was coarse and dry, and yielded little food. With another child on the way, Emeline’s father knew he couldn’t afford to feed a fourth mouth, so Emeline was sent to live with Ulric, and eventually became his wife.
Now, Emeline was with child. Many days of hard labor on the land, and tending to the animals had left her feeling beyond weary. On the day of her infant’s birth, Emeline was in the barn, milking a cow. As soon as the labor began, her body was rendered incapable of leaving the barn. She yelled for Ulric. Ulric did not come. The fragile woman collapsed under the pressure of her contractions. She called again and again for her husband, but he was working in the fields and would not hear.
There was light pouring in the window near the hay loft, and the rays coming in illuminated the scene: the poor woman, lying alone on the cold hard ground, giving birth to a human being. Emeline pushed. She cried out. Tears rolled down her burning cheeks. She tried to move, but she was paralyzed with fear and pain. Her young, frail body couldn’t handle the intense strain this child was bringing. There was a long inhale from the crying woman. Then there was the gasping breath of a baby. At one moment, there could be heard the struggling breaths of the woman and her newborn, simultaneously. Time passed, and eventually there was nothing but the soft murmur of the naked child. Night was falling. There was very little light coming in through the window by the hay loft.
The sound of footsteps…
Ulric was approaching to bring his mules in from the field. His figure stood in the doorway of the barn for a long time. His gaze passed from the sleeping child to the new mother. Emeline wasn’t sleeping, but she did not move. Her last breath had left her lungs hours ago.
Ulric picked up the child and wrapped it in his tunic. It was a girl. Ulric looked once more at his wife, then turned, and walked out of the barn. As he strode up to their dwelling, the tiny child stirred and began once more to wail and kick. Ulric laid the writhing thing in his bed and left it alone.
Fourteen years later
A rather tiny girl sat, milking a cow in a barn, while her old father lay in the house sick and dying. As the girl finished milking the heifer, she stood and looked up at a small window near the hay loft, and a shiver went down her spine. She had always felt uneasy in this part of the barn, but never knew why. Quickly, she retreated to the house, where she was greeted by the sound of sputtering coughs coming from her father, who was lying in his bed. This is how she was welcomed every day upon returning to the house. She led a very monotonous life and did her work the same each day. The girl did her duties about the house and eventually brought a small plate of food in to the bedroom and sat down by the fading man’s side. When he knew of her presence, he turned and looked into her face. She had soft, brown hair, and delicate green eyes that longed for their freedom of expression.





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