• Vol. 02
  • Chapter 11

Freedom has its roots in blood

"Ezra! You're bleeding over the cheese!" Faiga's squawks resounded shrill in memory.

The fragile ferry-boat bobbed, already filling with motley workers. Islanders returning to the mainland. Ezra, silhouetted on the pier, struck an incongruent figure of formality and wealth. In the canicular of mid-summer, children paddled barefoot. They might soon spot him and beg for coins to add to their shell collections. Surefooted but shoeless perhaps they'll be chasing behind Faiga's carriage until scolded for absconding from chores.

Ezra waits. Grey sea laps below him. As they settle, the low murmur of ferry passengers is drowned out by footloose shrieks from the shore. How quickly adult life speeds away from childhood domesticity. For Ezra, being sent away from his sister was a fortunate turn of fate. He'd narrowly escaped farm labour and the men's workhouse.

When the letter arrived, Faiga had her brother assist in making up the travel hamper. Their last meal together. Exploring the parlour was a treat. He'd never used a kitchen knife. But the scars of that day were more than skin deep.

"Ezra! You're bleeding over the cheese!" Faiga's squawks still echoed shrill in his memory. A swirling haze of blue-green ruffles as her underskirts undulated. Her young eyes glaring wide like those of an exotic bird, possessive and caring.

"Bleedin'....little runt...your blood line is too precious, young Ezra, and I'll be wringing your scrawny neck if you aren't more ¬°al lorro!" Ignoring the older Hispanic woman, Faiga flew across the kitchen, grabbing the knife.

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Freedom has its roots in blood

"Scoot afore I give ye a thick ear, you clut!" Her whisper came with a loving wink.

On the decking, Ezra raises his manicured hand to a smooth cheek. He remembers pelting toward the door, the damp tea towel whipping his cheek, sharply stinging. A blood stained finger sliding back into his cheezy-mouth. With a shrill whoop of joy, relief and freedom he sailed over the threshold, away from his kitchen slavitude and into the yard. "Get them chickens fed whilst you're by the stables. We leave at noon!"

The day he bled over the cheese was the day of departure. Separation. With sounds of thunder over head and black-out curtains drawn. Strange how the picnic lunch is blotted from memory. Even the goodbyes, the handkerchiefs both waving and dabbing their surrender to a communal fate. Mainly the women folk stayed behind. How quickly change moves.

Ezra sighs. Here again under the heat. No sign of rain yet, save a stickiness. Ground mists rise from the rapidly drying grasses. The dewy petrichor melds with sea-spray, nostalgic scents of home.

There along the pier Faiga is running toward him. She's in his arms. Her skirts a centrifuge of energies and emotion. Their tears fall as they bestow kisses upon each other.

Reunited and embracing, after years of waiting, speculating. A few precious letters binding them tighter together because blood is thicker than water.

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