Hoof beats. I'd like to say that sound makes my blood run cold, now or ever. I'd like to say that hearing that sound on that day made me feel something powerful or frightening. I would like to say that the sound was louder and more frightening on that day than any sound I'd ever heard. But, I can't.
Many people talk about how they knew something was not going to turn out well when it started. They say it's just intuition or good sense. People talk like it should happen all the time, to everyone. The day I became the Black Death, the third day of my marriage, was nothing like that. It was a day like any other, a day completely without warning.
The hoof beats on the thick grass drawing near didn't completely escape my attention. The sound woke me from a peaceful nap in front of the fire in the pretty, little cottage. The sound signified something I dreaded, something I'd been trying to avoid. It meant I had to spend time with my husband.
Bradan O'Hara wasn't a bad man. He was actually very kind and easy-going and had a pleasant, goofy grin. From the moment we'd met, he'd seemed completely non-threatening. None of that changed the fact that I hadn't agreed to the marriage and that I had no clue what to say or do or how to act.
When he'd first brought me to my new home, a pretty cottage next to a large expanse of grassy, flat land with penned animals, I had no idea what to do with myself. I was a young, innocent thing and had no idea what marriage meant. Luckily, he seemed unsure of what to do with himself as well. He explained the lay of the land to me and that the pretty cottage was to be my home from then on out. I told him I understood but was an obedient woman who knew her place and said nothing out of turn. He accepted this quite easily and instructed me to sit in a pretty wooden chair next to a table before abruptly leaving the cottage.
I was relieved beyond words. I didn't dislike or fear Bradan, I just had a really strong feeling that my manners were failing me. But, as the sun set I went from feeling relieved to feeling frightened and worried. I had no idea where the food was or even if there was any food. Worse, it was getting very cold and I had no idea how to start a fire. I waited, sitting like a statue in that chair, for hours before he came back. On that first night, he apologized for leaving me and handed me some tough bread and taught me how to build a fire in the makeshift fireplace in the middle of the room. The next day, he left again and was gone almost overnight. It didn't occur to me and nobody told me that he was working on the farm. When he came back, he again apologized and offered me some food. On the third day...
He came back a dripping mess in the morning. His hair was almost pleasantly dark from rainwater and I admit that, for a moment, I found him handsome. Something in his face made me afraid he'd expect me to say something but was extremely relieved when he went to warm himself by the fire without a word. I wasn't sure what to say to him so I hardly spoke a word since he'd brought me to the cottage. For the moment, I just stood still a bit away from the fire in the middle of the floor.
I must have been very deep in thought because I never noticed him move away from the fireplace. I only realized he'd moved at all when I heard his feet make soft, muffled noises against the dark dirt of the cottage floor. At that moment, I looked up to see where he was and gasped when I laid eyes on him. He was leaning over a bit, probably to compensate for the height difference between our heights, and staring at my face intently.
I had no idea how to react to him when he was 6 feet from me, how was I to know how to react with him mere inches from my face? I gasped loudly when I finally realized how close he was. He gave me an evil look, one that didn't at all suit his oblivious-looking face. It didn't exactly strike fear in me. In fact, I had to try very hard not to laugh. After a moment of glaring at me he gave up and his eyes softened. He turned away from me without a word. I was so relieved that I relaxed my breathing. Unfortunately, that let my laugh out whether I liked it or not. It was the rudest thing I'd ever done up to that point.
My laughing didn't seem to upset him at all. He just rung out his hair onto the floor and placed his usual grin back on his oblivious face. He'd always been rather easy-going but laughing in someone's face isn't something anyone did back then no matter who they were. Even a literal saint would've been cross with me for being so terribly rude. But, he just went about his business without even saying a word.
Shame immediately entered my brain after laughing at the poor man. He'd been nothing but kind to me and my people yet all I could do to thank him was laugh in his face. I could tell I was blushing by the burning in my face so I looked down and away from him. As I did I heard footsteps and felt cool air breeze across me. I knew he was approaching me again but I didn't dare look up. I was too busy finding the strength to apologize and accept my punishment.
Seconds, maybe minutes might have passed before I got the courage to look up. I was more than a little puzzled to see the room completely empty. I was sure he'd been standing over me and waiting for a response. Assuming I just hadn't heard the door slam through my own thoughts, my body relaxed a little and I began observing the cottage just like I had when I first arrived. The fire was now louder than the rain. Its glow matched the darkening of the world perfectly as I gazed out the window. I could tell night was coming by the chill in the air. I slowly rose to my feet and let the blood work its way through. I'd been sitting in the chair for hours, my legs had fallen asleep. Once I was stable enough to walk, I made my way to the tiny bedroom in the back of the cottage.
I entered the bedroom quite casually. I was exhausted and cold, more than ready to sleep. The rickety old bed seemed so inviting that I didn't even try to stop myself from yawning proudly. I decided to take one last look at the doorway to the bedroom, just as a precaution. When I turned my head I caught a glimpse of orange and brown. There was a sharp pain on the back of my head. Then I slept.