After 3440 BC, Ukraine in ancient days.
Kairos 29: Flern, the doe
“Actually, I sometimes wish I was a boy,” Flern said. “Then maybe I could fight the Jaccar.” Flern lay on her back in the grass, her red hair played out and her brown eyes looked straight up as she lifted her little fists to box with the clouds. The Jaccar had ridden out of the east some ten years ago. Fighting from horseback with their spears and copper points, the Jaccar swallowed village after village, and presently enslaved the natural inhabitants of the land. No telling when they might arrive in Flern’s village.
“At sixteen, you would not be allowed to fight anyone, even if you were a boy,” Thrud said. Flern rolled over and frowned at her. Thrud appeared to be trying to twist her impossible, frizzy black locks into a braid.
“Then Wlvn will have to fight for me,” she mumbled.
“Who?” Vinnu did not quite hear.
“Never mind,” Elluin said, as she pulled her long, blonde hair from behind her back. “Flern is just talking about her imaginary boyfriend again.”
“Grrr.” Flern growled at the girl and rolled again to take in the clouds. When Wlvn’s mother got selected, Flern asked her father what she could do about the Jaccar. She did not want any of her family disappearing. Father did not encourage her.
“You just take care of your mother and sisters,” he said, and he gave her the obligatory kiss on her forehead. Flern took him at his word and got some poor, second-hand bows and some arrows for practice. She made the girls practice twice a week for the last year. Pinn was probably the best after Flern, then Elluin, the dumb blonde. Vinnu seemed acceptably good, but she had no interest in the whole activity. She preferred to stay home and let the boys do all the fighting. Thrud proved to be a hopeless klutz, despite the encouragement of all the others. Flern looked over her head and noticed that Thrud was not doing well in braiding her hair either. Flern simply could not resist rolling into her. Of course, Thrud protested.
“No really, it was your elbow,” Thrud whined, and held tight to her knee.
“My elbow never went near you,” Flern gave the required response.
“Hey!” Pinn shouted and turned her sharp green eyes on them all. She sat on the edge of the short cliff with her legs dangling. The girls could see the whole village and beyond from that spot, though they rarely had anything interesting to look at. Flern and Thrud immediately stopped bickering on Pinn’s word, and Vinnu and Elluin both looked up as well. It had been that way since they were children. Pinn was the leader of the gang.
“The brood is coming.” Pinn pointed. All eyes shot to the village where a half-dozen horses headed out in their direction. Flern pulled herself up on her tummy until she lay beside Pinn, looking out over the fields. The boys got dubbed the witch’s brood when they were very young. “Your comedy trio should be along shortly.” Pinn smiled down at Flern where she rested on her stomach, her head propped up in her hands. Flern frowned again.
“Thanks a lot,” she said, and she reached up to jiggle Pinn’s shoulder to tease her about sitting right on the edge of the cliff. Pinn did not flinch; she just turned a hard stare on Flern who decided it would be best if she slithered off somewhere else. “I’m bored.” Flern shouted at the sky. “I got too much energy.” She decided to roll back and forth in the grass. “I want to do something.”
“Don’t you mean shoot something?” Thrud said, in her sarcastic best.
“Grrr.” Flern growled again as they watched the horses come on.
“I don’t mind the riding,” Vinnu spoke up from behind. Along with the bow, Flern forced the girls to practice riding, and that was not an easy thing to do since none of them had their own horse. Vinnu finished her thought. “I was thinking when the Jaccar come; maybe we can escape to the South or West.”
“That isn’t the idea.” Flern rolled back on to her stomach and scowled at her friend.
“I thought we were learning how to fight the Jaccar,” sweet, blond Elluin said, as usual, not following the gist of the conversation. Flern looked back at Pinn, but Pinn just shrugged and kept her green eyes on the horizon.
“Well, I finally got one braid done.” Thrud showed a grin of triumph.
Flern shook the girl’s knee as if trying to make her drop it, and then stood. She briefly considered spinning in circles and singing about the hills being alive, but quickly shut down that idea with another shout. “I want to do something!”
“I can think of something we can do.” The voice startled her. Drud, the boy she called Crud, stood beneath the shade of a tree at the top of the hill where the hill fell gently toward the river. He hid his black eyes in the darkness, eyes that Elluin said showed depth, but Flern thought looked evil. The one slobbering beside Drud was Bunder, a different matter altogether. “And Bunder here thinks of doing things with you nearly every day, isn’t that right, Bunder?” Drud paused for Bunder to speak if he wanted to, but Bunder just stared at Flern like she was naked and Flern felt obliged to sit down and put Thrud between them. Bunder never said much. He was a very nondescript brown haired, brown eyed boy, except that he stood taller than any of them other than Gunder, the giant.
“I think you were right about shooting something.” Flern whispered to Thrud, and not too quietly.
“I know that,” Drud said. He slipped his arm around Elluin’s waist, and sad to say, Elluin responded with a toss of her blond locks and a flutter of her sweet blue eyes. “I was just kidding, too. Isn’t that right, Bunder?”
Bunder shrugged. He was not kidding, and neither was Flern.
“What do you two field suckers want?” Pinn stood at last, turned her small self toward the grassy hilltop to face the boys, and asked the question that came to everyone’s mind. Drud and Bunder were not normally part of the brood, though exactly when that separation occurred, no one could quite remember.
“We just wanted to take in the sights,” Drud said, not backing down one bit. He pulled Elluin close to his side and Elluin appeared to be willing, but Flern felt her stomach turn at the thought of poor Elluin. Flern prayed for her friend every night when she remembered.
“There is a good view about ten steps that way.” Thrud pointed past the edge of the cliff.
“Funny.” Drud responded without laughing, but with the sound of horses coming, he said no more. He and Bunder faded back into the woods, and they took Elluin with them.
“And Elluin is the pretty one, too,” Flern complained. She felt sick for the girl, but at least they weren’t married yet, and Elluin did break up with the boy every now and then when she showed up with a black eye and a thick lip. Sadly, she always went back.
“You’re not so bad.” Thrud said something nice. Flern dropped her jaw.
“Very pretty,” Vinnu confirmed. “Though it may be the red hair.”
“Yeah, prettiest one left. That’s why you got your what do you call them, the three stooges.” Pinn spoke with a sly grin as she resumed her seat let her feet go back to dangling off the edge. Flern just “grrred” to herself that time.