She’d been too young to understand, the year of the Ice Storm. All Kailienne knew was that her friends, Toby’s, and the Aedder kids – who shared classed with her and Toby, but she wouldn’t have called them friends, then – their friends & classmates had come to stay, with their families, overflowing the cottages in the alder stand while the rest of the town struggled with power outages, blocked roads, gas shortages, and freezing temperatures.
She’d noticed the way Adeline, Head of House, and Brice, Elder Whitehall, were tense with each other, because in a family like theirs, especially when everyone was trapped inside by the weather, you noticed every tension. But the weather was bad and the adults were often tense in potential crisis situations.
What she first remembered noticing was that, while the snow thawed and the world unfroze, relations between Brice and Adeline did not. She noticed it when Toby started working with Brice and she started working with Adeline, learning their trades and working hard for adulthood. She noticed the way Toby had pulled away from her, the way Brice would sit her down and talk to her about what a man’s word meant.
You didn’t speak ill to your elders, not in their family. But after a few weeks, Kailienne asked, carefully, “what about a woman’s word, Uncle Brice? Women and men aren’t different, not in our family. Right?”
He turned a funny color of puce. “What has Adeline been telling you?”
“Aunt Addy? Nothing… nothing about words. That’s why I asked you.”
There were other regrets Kailienne would have, as she grew older. Other words she would wish she could take back. But those words – those words would haunt her forever. And the way Elder Brice’s eyes lit up. And the way his back straightened.
On the other hand, she might have embroiled herself in a family feud that was as silent as snow and as long-lasting as an oak tree, but at least Toby was talking to her again.
This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/923969.html. You can comment here or there.