--A note for the reader by Leif Idirson.
There are a few days in life that you remember, even as the years pass and you're tempted to forget more than your share of things. Some of those days are from childhood, like the day my mother passed away. Others are fairly recent, like the day I met my sister.
Drostan was ten, and he hadn't had a decent woman in his life since Konar's second wife Berhilda passed away four years prior. Konar's sanity had been slowly declining since--well, since I can remember--and I was hardly surprised to hear that he was going on a suicidal raid in February. Drostan volunteered to catch the flu so I wouldn't have to go along, but he perked right back up as soon as Konar's ship left harbor. We all expected him to come home with gold, or slaves, perhaps, but I walked through my front door one day to find a woman.
She was a sight--she hadn't brushed her hair in a week, it seemed, and she was holding a kitchen knife as if it were a sword. She looked like a caged animal. Her back was pressed against the doors of the bed closet, her eyes wild. I hardly knew what to do, but I suppose I could have done better than ask, "Who are ye...?"
"Who are ye? And what are ye doing here?" she demanded. I'll never forget her voice.
"Well--my name is Leif, an' this is my house--it's half-mine, rather." I had to keep talking to sound at least half competent. "Konar's the chief, so I suppose most of it belongs to him. And yer name?"
"Caitriona," she said, before launching into a tirade of names of the people she'd left behind. She tied them to relations, but I couldn't catch them all. She started crying, clutching a ring on her left hand. I wanted to kill Konar when I realized it was a wedding band. All of a sudden, she wiped her eyes and asked, "And who's this, now?"
I hadn't even realized Drostan was in the doorway--he was too busy trying to make an escape. "Tell her yer name, son," I said. And so he did, quietly.
Caitriona held out her arms. "Come here, Drostan," she said, and I all but pushed my son across the room. Caitriona about crushed him, but she stopped crying. The next thing I knew, she was making him something to eat.
Since then, she's never ceased to amaze me. Her housekeeping skills rival those of Drostan's mother, and I don't know that I've met a better cook. She bounces back like heather. She still has nights when she cries herself to sleep. But she's learned how to ask me for help, and I'm more than willing to give it to her. After all, I've always wanted a little sister.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.