Written to Thnidu’s commissioned continuation of Down to Talen Hall.
Do not go by the TalenHall
Where ruined Talen’s Holdings Lie
My sisters dance by Talen Hall
Where ruined Talen’s Holdings lie.
My aunts and cousins, once in thrall,
Sing taunting songs to pale moonlight.
They were not my sisters, and yet they were.
My sister stood off to the side, an iron firepoker in her hand. She’d grown while I was gone, and grown again in the time I’d been back. She was a woman.
I’d been a woman, once. To the touch of the fae lords and the beings under the hill, I had grown seven years and seven more, seven children and seven grooms.
Seven brides for Seven Brothers, Alicia liked to joke, but only if everyone was on a merry-go-round, playing musical brides.
Alicia’d had a habit of getting her metaphors mixed. Now, she didn’t say anything at all, just stood at Talen’s Hall and stared.
Seven years and seven again I’d been there – and Alicia, who had gone down at the same time as I had – but my body was exactly as it had been when I’d left. No sign of the babies. No sign of two years, or five, or fourteen. No sign I’d been gone at all.
No sign of my seven brothers, not even of the one I’d loved. No sign of the rings he’d slipped on my fingers.
Kara stood to the side, grown hard and adult while I lingered in the moonlit lands. Her iron poker was a guard against those who’d taken us, and against us, all forty-nine of us, who might want to go back.
“You cannot have the ones you took
They are not yours to claim”
That’s what they say she sang. Some days I want to ask her on whose authority?
“This is our world and not your book.
Give back their pride and shame.”
And I wonder, more than anything, if she knew what she was giving me back. My Pride. My Shame: Then their eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked. All of that returned to me.
Do not go by the Talen Hill
Where Jana’s Kara holds the steel.