A walk through Montsilt
Clop, clop, clop. The cane made that noise relentlessly as Hanna walked down the street in Montsilt. It was sharp and loud compared to the sound it had made on the farm. She struggled with a condition that left her joints weak and in pain most days. It started after moving North so the cane could not be left far out of reach. She knew when not to push herself but sometimes took it to the edge out of habit. Her husband used to tell her to keep moving. He passed three years ago, but mixed emotions still come up when thinking about him. He didn't understand.
She headed down the stone street, past the cobbler. A vibrant banner hung by his open door. Her children had already discovered that he had a jar of sweets on his counter. She continued to the busy blacksmith shop. The hammer swung nonstop during the day, and she found her cane clopped in time with the hammer. Finally, she took a left turn at the town square. The twins that lived above the general store waved to her. She managed a quick wave back.
She grimaced a few smiles as other people greeted her as well. It was a friendly village, but she was new, a refugee. Her old community lay in ruins now. However, she could be grateful many of the people made it here. Anxious to pull her weight Hanna pushed down the street, but her true motivation was to help Supheli.
That girl had saved Hanna and her family. Thirteen-year-old Supheli was rough around the edges but talented enough with magic that it got them out of a tight spot. Hanna didn't know the whole history, but Supheli had been given her own shop in the village. So that is where Hanna was heading.
Supheli's Magic Shop
The narrow building stood ahead to her left. Its old stone walls tilted a bit with age. There were three split-level floors inside. A garage stood behind the building, accessible from the second floor. She had thought it was an odd design but had not had the chance to ask what it used to house.
An orange cat blocked the door. Hanna walked up to the red door and shushed the cat away. Oh, it dropped off a present. A large mouse laid motionless on the stoop. The door was near the right side of the building. Hannah brushed the mouse around the corner with her cane. She took a deep breath and let it out. Her nerves were less about the mouse and more about her first day. She made her way up the steps, unlocked the door, and entered. The rectangular front room was empty except for a large hearth on the far side wall of the building.
Hanna made her way up the short flight of steps to the second floor. Another empty rectangular room greeted her. On the third floor, she could see some of Supheli's mushroom experiments and her messy bed. The walls on the third floor were covered with painted designs and writing. Hanna sat down on the top of the flight of steps leading to the third floor.
Hilda's daughter Milli was Supheli's age. Their beds looked about the same. Hilda was Hanna's partner for the past two years. They found strength and family together. Hanna's thoughts shifted to Supheli. She was out here, away from her family. Hanna stood and made her way to the bed. It wouldn't take much to straighten the sheets and sort the pillows.
She didn't waste time on the third floor. The paintings were colorful and pleasant, but they shifted. The leaves on the picture of a tree swayed as if there was a breeze when the sheets billowed and settled on the bed.
Plus, Supheli fertilized mushrooms in the corner with dead rats and mice. Supheli had said the mushrooms would be helpful in making various potions and tinctures. Hanna was pretty sure she didn't want to know more about that. So she didn't offer to participate in the fertilizing and growing part. As much as Hanna liked Supheli, that girl would need to bring dead mice in herself.
The front door opened and returned Hanna's attention to the empty space on the first floor. A man entered, carrying some wood planks. He looked around until he saw Hanna reach the top of the steps to the second floor.
He cleared his throat. "Hi, is Supheli here?"
Hanna made her way down the steps. "No, just me. Supheli is out. She told me to open up for you."
The man nodded, "I'm Kayd. I've seen you across the street. You and your family moved into the room off Yelsin's shop, right?"
Not much goes unnoticed in a small forest village.
"Yes, I'm Hanna. Supheli wanted these walls lined with shelves."
"Well, Hanna, I'm glad you are in the loop. I'll sit these here and get the next stack. It will take me a few trips. Then I'll get them hung." Before he left, he paused and turned back to Hanna. He talked for a moment, "It was quite a thing she did. I got four cartloads of wood in less than a week from Etonia. She said she was a member of the council, wasn't sure I believed her - since she was so young. But with those results, I figured I better put her on the top of the list. This will be quite a nice space."
Hanna nodded in agreement as he headed out the door. Yes, she thought to herself. This will be a very nice space.
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I pulled from the struggles of family and friends with chronic illness when writing about Hanna. I know how much uncontrolled asthma, when I was younger, changed my awareness and plans on a given day. I wrote this story as part of the Storytelling Collective's 2021 Flash Fiction February. I added it to the Short Stories of the Anhult collection because it also offers a view of the community in the forest.
I really like the optimistic tone to your piece. It's clear that there might be some sort of past but it feels like the beginning of something new, shedding the past, and forging a path towards the future.
Space, the final frontier... where no elderly has gone before. Marvellous
Haha. Can't not think that with the word Space. Although, I might need a different picture, Hanna is probably only in her early 40's.
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As someone who occasionally struggles to walk, I loved Hanna and her willingness to help out the girl. I look forward to reading more of this story!