She awoke to a murderous headache and a deafening roar in her ear, the warmth of the flickering fire beckoning her. Pulling herself to her feet by clinging to a table leg, she made her way toward it. As she turned to warm her backside, she caught sight of the baby girl on the bed. From deep in her battered brain, love for her baby sister nudged her. Drawn to the bedside, she studied the baby, hardly cognizant of the other child. Dropping to the edge of the bed, she tenderly touched the child’s burning cheek and tried to gather her to her bosom. Unaware of the man who’d entered the room, her last thought was of her lost baby sister as she slid back into the darkness, barely aware of being ministered to.
She held little memory of the next few days, though her headache dulled and the roaring in her ear became less demanding. When she could stay awake, she focused on the baby, a blue-eyed blonde, so much like her sister. A small boy trailed the man constantly. Thinking still made her head ache, especially when she had the nightmare about a pistol and a man. The Dream always slipped away like dark silk as shuddered awake, but left her in a cold sweat. In her dream, she was always trying to get away.
The man was busy but quiet. He and the boy were rarely in the house, except to bring in milk, do chores, and eat. He did nothing to threaten or disturb her, but she wanted nothing to do with him or any other man. Had she been able to think more clearly, she’d have wondered about the mother of the children, but that was too onerous a task for her addled brain.