Snapshots: Mother’s Day

While I don’t believe there is really a Mother’s Day in Middle Earth, many of us spent yesterday (or part of yesterday) celebrating it. I have had a horrible case of writer’s block for almost a month now, and this idea finally broke my dry spell. In honor of Mother’s Day, I’ve written snapshots of each of my characters, dealing with their mother or a mother-like figure in their life. 🙂

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The envelope quietly ripped open, dexterous fingers releasing the well-traveled contents inside. A small linen drawstring pouch fell into her lap, confusing Lori. The letter that shortly followed suit was quickly opened and scanned. Whoever wrote this for them had awfully small handwriting: she had to squint and scoot closer to the window. It was legible enough, though…and filled with simple conversation. Everything seemed normal, but an extra page at the end, a smaller one, caught her eye. She pulled it out and read it slowly.

Your mother’s birthday was last week, from when this letter was written. I have held on to this for years in the hopes that one day you would see it and ask for it. Since the ways have become dangerous, I do not wish for you to travel here now. Instead, it is enclosed it for you. Your mother gave this to me before she left, as a reminder of her. After much talk with my mother, we have decided it should pass to you.

Blue-green eyes widened immediately, looking to the pouch on her lap as if it burned. This was something her mother gave Uncle Thurwald. What was it? The letter was carefully laid on the table as a finger reached out to poke the pouch. It was soft, whatever it was. Very light. Could it have been paper? No, she was told her mother couldn’t write. What… what was it? Loriwen slowly opened the pouch, blindly sticking her fingers in to feel around. It felt like…hair? She pulled it out carefully. It was hair. A braided, old piece of golden hair…

Golden hair. Her mother had golden hair. Was this…? She turned it around in her hands a few times, eventually lifting it to compare to her own reddish locks. They both held that golden tint to them, her own tinged with her father’s carroty reddishness. It was. She held it up, staring at it for some time before finally blinking and realizing where she was. This had to be kept somewhere safe… aha! Her knife pouch. She’d get a new carving knife pouch, one that was a little bigger, and she’d keep it in there. There was nowhere else it could possibly belong. For now, she should keep it in the bag – when she wasn’t looking at it, of course. Like now. She inspected the hair, reverently spinning it in her hands.

This was a very odd gift! Very thoughtful, though. She had a similar idea for her wedding ring to Tarlanc, but sadly it wasn’t possible: she wanted to encase some of her hair in crystal or glass or something. No one knew how to do it. It was more than a little touching to realize her mother thought of the same kind of gift. Perhaps they would’ve had some things in common. Hmmm, maybe cutting some of her own hair wouldn’t be a bad idea. You know, in case something happened. It always was a possibility. She’d want her child to have a little piece of her.

Her thought process halted immediately and she stared wide-eyed at the wall. Wait…

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Another sniffle echoed throughout the woods, startling a small rabbit from its early feast of a fresh clover patch. The little creature hopped away, rather than toward, the noise. If only it knew how harmless the skinny, awkward teenage girl really was. She wiped another tear from her face and cleared her throat. She was having such a wonderful day, and then she managed to catch a glimpse of her mother walking through town. Naturally, as her luck would have it, she was spotted as well. She ran as fast as she could, easily losing the frantic woman in the bustle of the crowds. The woods were the first place she ran, hoping she wouldn’t be followed. She wasn’t, as far as she could tell.

Why did she have to see her mother? Couldn’t that have been her father? Someone she could hate? Ugh. This was horrible. Needed to clean her face up before she faced Luned again.

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“Olen pahoillani, tyttäreni. Rakasta hänen – mikään ei ole tärkeämpää. Ei edes maaomaisuus.”
I’m sorry, my daughter. Love her – nothing is more important. Not even the land.

The Lossoth words echoed as Hilja’s voice rang from the sun above. Tuija looked around, confused. A moment later, her mother floated down on a cloud to stand before her. Somehow she knew that she spoke in perfect Westron, but Hilja understood her anyway. “Mother, why are you here?”

“Voit surra ohi aiemmin, ja vieroksua sitä tulevan. Rakkaus hänen kuin rakastin sinua.”
You grieve over the past, and shun the future. Love her as I loved you.

Tuija reached toward her mother, but the elderly woman dissipated the moment her fingers brushed what would have been her peikko-fur tunic. Panic set in, and she awoke with a start. Was it a true dream-message, or the workings of her mind? Did it matter? She looked over to Lempi, nearly a year old, and brushed a lock of jet black hair away from the baby’s sleeping face. It was sound advice, regardless of from where it came. Kiitos, äiti.

((Yeah, okay. Lots of Finnish. It just didn’t work any other way; sorry! Last one is “thank you, mom.”))

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You truly did not have to send anything, but I know there is no method of dissuading you from sending a birthday gift if you wish to. I do miss you, Merileth. Thank you again. I keep you all in my thoughts at all times. Please give Mother a kiss and embrace for me.

Yours, Tegil

He sat back and sighed happily. Time to let the ink dry before he sent it off. What did Merileth send him? Knowing her, it was likely something absurd and far too pushy – possibly even something to do with Ceswyn. Then again, Mother probably would insist Merileth be patient. He was glad, truly glad, that they knew; but that naturally opened the door for pestering and teasing. Well, he would bear it proudly. Hopefully the gift would be something simple and meaningful.

Now to write to Mother. She would no doubt wish for a detailed description of the pendant…should he draw it? No, that would not do it justice. His words would have to suffice. He started the letter as he always did, before diving right into describing the gift. An easy, lopsided smile grew as he imagined her reaction to reading it.

Questions: Lists for the Day Ahead

The muse has been awoken, loud and clear. Writer’s block, over! You’ll see a few updates from me coming up, including a lot of explanation for Leuedai and a great little piece from everyone. For now, I just was inspired with another installment of “Questions” for you all! We all think before we drift off to sleep, and often we’ll tally lists or think about our day. Every question here is unlabeled, and not prefaced. Enjoy this tiny snippet into everyone’s innermost consciousness.

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…Oh, and potatoes and celery, and flowers…

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I… tomorrow. I’ll… tell tomorrow. I can’t believe it.

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Fold it up, then down, then stretch and twist. Up, then down, stretch and twist…

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I…thank you.

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Will I ever get back? I’m broken.

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…Shipment, tomorrow, noontimes. Bake pie…blueberry. No, not ripe. Blackberry. Yes…

Remembering…

(Stolen from amimain, yet again. <33333 I wrote ENTIRELY too much, but I won’t apologize because this was a really great exercise. I hope you enjoy! ^_^)

Sky quietly slipped out of the room when she thought Luned had finally fallen asleep. Her roommate slept like a log most nights, making it much easier to slide away. She bundled herself up even further before silently exiting the warm house, trading comfort for freezing cold. Feet walked: left, right, left, right, making small crunches in the remaining snow. Every night, she went to this spot and every night she waited. All night. She had no idea if she’d ever see her again, but she’d always try. Was it a dream?

Ruff! A small puppy bounded up to the campsite shortly after Sky lit a fire. Bending down in a mess of limbs, she sat on the ground and held her arms out. The puppy, already freezing in the mid-winter night, quickly ran up to both young woman and fire: both warm. Sky hugged the puppy tight, glad for companionship as she held her vigil.

The little pup reminded her of Olly. Her eyes shifted from the small bundle of fur, over to the fire. As the flames crackled in the night, licked and climbed upward only to dissipate against the harsh coolness of the air, Sky sadly thought of her dear friend. Sometimes at night, she’d hug a pillow just to pretend it was her beloved dog once more. Not many things in this world are more crushing than losing your home, your family: but losing your pet cut deeply. They never found Olly after they escaped their home in the north. It was assumed that Olly died by an Orc’s hand. Her brows furrowed and she broke her gaze on the fire, dragging it to the shaggy creature curled in her lap. He wasn’t Olly, but he’d do. At least dogs liked her. She continued to play the waiting game.

«——————————»

The book slowly closed, shutting the door on all further adventures to the land of Lorien for the evening. Foreign symbols, Sindarin, faded from his mind slowly. It was his favorite book, a book of epic poetry dedicated to the Golden Wood. His hands softly caressed the cover, a faint smile playing on his lips. He’d never forget the first time this book had been placed into his hands.

A mischievous and melodic voice rang in his ear. “nendir, come along. I’ll read you your favorite book tonight. Just don’t tell Adar or Naneth!” His eyes widened and he ran to get ready to sleep. The book with all the Elves with the gold trees! No young boy ever cleaned up and got into his sleeping gown as quickly as he did that evening. Plopping into his large and soft mattress, he sat quietly. Eventually his sister slipped into the room, inciting silent but rousing applause from him.

“It’s your birthday today, nendir. I’m going to give you a treat, okay?” His eyes sparkled, just like she wanted. The older girl plopped an old, leather-bound book into his lap; it was well-loved, with an etching of a beautiful tree on the cover. It was their favorite poetry book, the one she promised to read to him tonight. Wide blue-gray eyes looked up to her in childish hope, small hands already crawling around to hold it to his chest. “Well, read it! I’m giving it to you, if you can read me the first stanza. Come on.”

Clearing his small, boyish throat, little nendir began to recite the long, twisting words written in the book. His Sindarin, even at the tender age of seven, was already properly accentuated. She smiled widely, impulsively leaning over to kiss her younger brother’s forehead.

Ah, Merileth. If there was one person from his family that he truly missed, with every fiber of his being, it was her. His feisty, loud, ever-caring sister. He even missed her nagging at times; he missed her advice most of all. She’s the one who convinced him that he needed to follow his heart and to leave. He would be sure to write her a separate letter next week. Quietly holding the old book to his chest, much like he did twelve years ago, Tegil transformed once more into young nendir, if only for a few heartbeats.

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Lempi hiccuped so abruptly, the baby surprised herself. She blinked widely and looked to her mother for reassurance. Tuija gladly gave the infant exactly that, bringing her close to her chest. She softly murmured in her language as she handed the girl a crusty and chewy piece of bread to teeth upon. Lempi had learned fast, already weaned off breast milk at the age of eight months. Once that tooth began to come in, Tuija couldn’t handle feeding her any more. Too painful. Lempi loved crusty bread (which helped with her teething pains), so once the bottles were successfully accepted by the girl, everyone was happier.

Tuija kissed the crown of her daughter’s head, then pulled back to inspect the little face as it sloppily gnawed on the large baked good. It always took her breath away to see how Michael’s features were so easily transposed onto Lempi’s face. Her nose, the shape of her eyes…her lips. Especially her lips. Tuija’s were much fuller, more of a pout than a smile. Her daughter had a mouth begging to laugh, just like her father did. Tuija reached down to kiss Lempi’s cheek softly. The baby giggled and moved away; her mother was getting in the way of bread decimation, and that was not acceptable.

Michael loved bread, too. Tuija’s face twisted sorrowfully as she thought on how he loved her homemade flat breads. She remembered an old saying, one her mother would tell her every time she pouted for her duties as a girl. “Ei elämä irvistellen somene.”

“Life will not get more beautiful by making grimaces.”

Her mother was right. Tuija forced a smile.

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The sun was shining, the snow was sparkling, and Loriwen Snowberry couldn’t have been in a better mood if she tried. She thought about skipping as she walked into the gate of Bree-town proper, but she wasn’t in that good a mood. It wouldn’t end well and she knew it. Plus, great mood or not, she was thirty. Just a little too old to be doing that in public. She’d skip at home. Alone. Lori turned away from the main road on her way to the lodge. She needed some new nails and her favorite store was around there. They had the best nail smithy, in her opinion. Sturdy but not ugly on the heads.

Just as she was about to bound up the stairs – carefully as always – her ears caught a sound all too familiar to her. Children. Children taunting someone or something. Lori slid her feet to the right, peering down the alleyway next to the shop. Four children stood around a fifth, who was curled into a ball. They were all girls. Her fantastic mood suddenly diminished, leaving a very unhappy woman to stalk down the alley toward them.

“Y’ know what they’re sayin’ ’round town ’bout yer ma, right?”

“Yeah! I heard my pop saying she’s a who–

A clear and stern voice rang out over the four girls, all of whom couldn’t have been more than eight. It cut them off most readily. “And what is going on here?” The voice’s owner put her hands on her hips, golden hair shining in the remaining shaft of light and teal eyes flashing with barely hidden anger.

The oldest of them, or at least the tallest of them, pointed to Lori and squeaked, “Ah! It’s her! Din’t she stab that guy in th’ Pony?! I heard my da’ talkin’ ’bout her! Quick! B’fore she stabs us, too!”

All four fled in a whirl of ratty ponytails and threadbare skirts, leaving the fifth girl still cowering against the wall. Lori smiled and squatted down, holding out her hand. “C’mon, it’s alright. They’re gone.” The little girl – definitely younger and seemingly prettier than the others – peeked up to stare at the older woman.

“Wh-.. what’re y’ doin’? They gonna get me good later, now..” She did take Lori’s hand, though, and let her help her shakily stand up.

“They do that often? Tease you, I mean.” Holding her hand, Lori led the little girl toward the way she stalked in; away from the the girls’ direction.

A soft nod and a sniffle answered her question. “S’no fair, I ain’t done nothin’ t’ them. Jus’ wanna be their friend.” Vibrant green eyes shone with tears as the small girl – she couldn’t have been more than six!! – looked up to Lori. Now she understood. Those girls were jealous; those were some beautiful eyes, and if there was anyone in the whole of Bree who knew what it was like to be berated for being different in a pretty way, it was Lori.

“Yer a bastard kid with straw hair ‘n eyes like a rotten robin’s egg!”

“Somethin’s wrong with Loony Lori, you ain’t got no momma an’ yer hair’s all weird! Where’d ya come from, Loony Lori?!”

Her brow creased at the memories; she wiped it from her face and squatted back down to face the brilliantly green-eyed girl. “What’s your name, sweetie?”

“Lizabeth…” Another sniffle, then a wiping of eyes. They blinked, focusing on the older woman for the first time. “…Yer real purty. Diff’rent lookin’.”

A soft but wide smile spread across Lori’s face. “Thank you, Lizabeth. You’re real pretty, yourself. You have some of the prettiest green eyes I’ve ever seen. They’re like a Yule tree.”

Those eyes shifted to the ground, a pout making itself obvious. “They all call ’em puke-green. Or rott’n eggs.”

“Well, don’t let them get to you. You have pretty eyes, and when you grow up, you’re going to find yourself the best guy around and he’s going to love them. Those girls will be so busy picking at each other, all the boys will ignore them and they’ll have to settle for living with crazy Ellie in her cat house on the Stairs.”

She was rewarded with a quiet giggle. “Ya think so?”

Lori stood up and mussed the girl’s brown hair. “I know so. I was teased, too, and now I’ve got the best guy ever. He loves my eyes.” She wrinkled her nose to accompany a sweet smile.

Lizabeth bit her lower lip and grinned up to the woman. “Really? You were teased an’ now yer all growed up and married?” Another big giggle erupted and the little girl ran off happily.

Her gaze shifted back to the alley, remembering some of her own little torture sessions as a small girl. One kid stood out in her mind, a boy. Mathias. He was a mean little boy, pulling her hair and sticking honey in her boots at lessons. He said a lot of horrible things to her; some of them still cut deep when she thought about them. Her fists began to clench as she remembered a particularly crude remark about her absent mother. Half-way to a scowl, she blinked and looked down to her hand. Something was digging into her fist. Oh. Oh, of course.

Lori held her hand up in the sun, the old and battered silver ring shining despite its age. Her wedding ring. She smiled to herself. Bah, sod Mathias. She was happier than he was, that was for sure. After all, he had to marry one of the bratty girls who tortured her as well. Now she tortured him instead. Serves him right. She planted an impulsive kiss on the ring, then nodded to herself and went about her business. Time to buy nails.

Cedar-woman: To Work

Tuija shifted her body, pulling the sling she carried closer to her breast. Soft breathing made its way out, bringing a smile to her face. Lempi was asleep, and how; worn out after the activities of the previous evening. It was an unexpected surprise, meeting that young woman, that near-neighbor. When she – her name was Gilnes, no? – spoke the language of Tuija’s people, if only to say the standard greeting and farewell, it threatened to bring tears to her eyes. Remembering the conversation brought a wave of memories back to her, even as she walked now. She wished she knew this language more clearly, for she couldn’t describe her land properly – even to one who was a neighbor.. and now, ystävä. Friend.

She said last night that Forochel was beautiful. That it had “green sky, purple.” That the “snow sparkle like sun on water.” Those words were not adequate to describe her beloved home land. The snow sparkled like a million small diamonds in the sun, which peered down from a clear, deep azure sky. The cool air showed her that which should not be seen: her breath, in white whisps of fog. Her eyes watered as a frigid breeze blew across the camp, toward the lake. On the edge of it, children played on their luistin. The clean smell of never-melting snow mingled with the scent of her pot of stew, causing her to jump up and go to stir it as her mother and older sister laughed at her forgetting dinner.

Only one word in Westron – which she knew, at least – could properly describe the village of Sûri-kylä. Home. She ached for it, with every fiber of her being…but then the warmth pressed against her reminded Tuija of why she was still here. Her daughter. Half-Lossoth, half-Bree. Given names of both, Lempi and Aimee. Both meaning “loved.” Since her husband passed, she called her child by the name of her people, Lempi; so that the little girl would not forget she also came from Sûri-kylä. The large, beautiful village in the snow. In respect and love, she did take his last name, both her and her daughter. Lawson sounded incorrect next to their Lossoth names, but it would be what it was. Rememberance would be maintained.

Even with the Bree-lander’s name at the end of her own, Tuija was rightfully very wary around strangers. She had lived in Bree-town proper for almost a year, but never took up a permanent home or work. None cared for the strange foreign woman who was so quiet and spoke with the language of a child, and even fewer trusted her. Sure, there were offers of a night here or there; and some times, they were tempting. It was a lonely life, and Tuija felt the ache, the want of a companion. Yet every time she looked down at her daughter, she knew there needed to be more than the promise of one night and whispers in the dark. She needed a husband, if she were to ever bring a man into small Lempi’s life. A man who would love her as his own.

Loosening her shirt a bit as she walked, Tuija let some of the – to her reckoning – warm air breathe into her clothing. It was so hot here, how can the people stand it? Poor Lempi was already used to the warm climate, but even she felt some of the Lossoth blood coursing through her veins. She liked the cooler sling during this weather, their harvest breeze rustling through the mostly-bare trees. Soon there would be snow, and both of them would rejoice. For Lempi, it would be her first taste and touch of snow; for Tuija, it would be that small piece of home with which she could share with her daughter. If only for a short while.

The woman tossed back her shoulders, standing prouder and more hopeful with that thought. Soon their winter would arrive, and she would – hopefully – have more steady work. Her ystävä, Gilnes, had given her odd names. Heart-wood, Dar-steed. Said they often found work for those who needed it. Tuija needed it, and so she had walked south. She stood in front of the door of what those in this Dar-steed town told her was the Heart-wood Estate. Full of hope, and full of a burning desire to prove herself, she knocked on the door.