A hint of what is to come
Yvette and Jacques worked at their father's bakery. Yvette was a writer. Jacques was a painter. Their father had them work their talents as much as he had them baking. They weren't from this region, and their father's stories of exotic places in the South made their dreams full of adventures.
Other than their different interests in writing and painting, they were mirrors of each other in a way that only twins could be. There was a rhythm when they were baking together. The bakery supplied two taverns and a couple dozen households with bread. The family made enough money to get whatever they needed and had pleasant days. Though travel seemed far away.
That changed when a man died outside their door. He was torn apart by a giant gangly beast. They hid in their house while the battle raged. Their father stood at their bedroom door with his sword in hand. A bow leaned against the bed behind him.
Yvette had asked, "Father, why don't we help?" He did not respond. Jacques followed with, "Father?"
The monsters, there had been more than one, were dispatched by others in the town. That night, their father did not sleep. He had their bags packed, but they didn't leave. The bakery and house sat quiet and still. A few days later, the three of them attended the funeral of the man that had died.
After the ceremony, Yette asked, "Father, why didn't we help?"
This time, their father replied. "There is more than one way to help."
They began baking twice as much as before. The mayor had asked to double the daily orders the day before. People were arriving in the village from the surrounding farms and neighboring villages. Whispers could be heard in any gathering and from every customer, "Was the forest safe?" Their father never answered the question. Their travel bags remained on the dining room table.
After baking each day, they practiced with their father's bow. Then he had them spar with sticks. They walked with their father the day he put an order in at the blacksmith for two swords.
As they left, Jacques said, "Now we can help."
Their father said, "No, not like that."
They wondered if they were going to leave but could not bring themselves to ask. Their travel bags remained on the dining room table.
About a week and a half after the man died, there was a knock on the door. A woman asked Yvette to come to the town hall to read her stories that evening. The next day there was another knock. The woman requested Jacques to bring some of his paintings and his paint.
Their father went with them each time and stood arms crossed in the back of the town hall. The twins shared their work with the woman, the mayor, and others she had invited. She said she was healing the village. Their father did not say anything to them about either night.
Another week slipped by, and there was another knock. Jung stood at the door and greeted the twin's father. He knew Jung from the Hunter's Guild in a neighboring village. After the recent incidents, Jung organized a group called Ardelis' Arrows to help protect the town. Ardelis was a Ranger that protected the forest and was well-liked. Amis stepped aside to let Jung enter.
The town would soon need to quadruple the bakery output. Jung had people that could help bake, but he also needed people to help with the Arrows. He had seen the twins practicing. Amis took Jung to the table in the dining room and sat in a chair. "I saw the mayor value my children for more than just bakers. Will she value them as more than just soldiers to throw away?" His voice faded away at the end of the question.
The twin's father continued, "They will want to do this. Do I travel with my family or let them travel with the Arrows?"
Jung put his hand on their father's shoulder. "I think the mayor hopes we can all travel together as one community."
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The name Amis appears in the medieval French poem Amis and Amiles, about two friends who make sacrifices for one another. The twin's father's name is Amis. It made me think about what he would impart to his children. As a single father it also seemed important to think about his reaction to events and trying to hold everything together.
This was originally a piece of flash fiction for the Storytelling Collective's Flash Fiction February challenge in 2021. I edited and expanded to include with the Short Stories of the Anhult Wildlands in Jan 2023.
This is beautiful for both what is said and what is unsaid. What I love here is that there is so much richness: to the backstory, to what will come, to why the father made the choices he has... I want to read more and more!
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