Painting of Medieval Hands, Kodak EasyShare M340
Chapter 03 — Marissa’s Betrothal
Whom should I kill tonight? My stupid uncle or his bitchy wife? Marissa could not make up her mind. It was her favorite game to pass her time, trying to imagine life without those who did not love her…
If only her parents were still alive, she would not have had to kiss that pimply boy and let him hold her hand all through the betrothal ceremony.
At eleven, Marissa had better things to do than to get tied to the shy, self-conscious, stupid, stupid, stupid boy. But her stupid Uncle and bitchy Aunt had decreed it was high time she stopped tree climbing and started being useful.
How could they do such a thing to her? Peter, her newly betrothed, had a glaring pimple on the tip of his nose and all through the ceremony Marissa could think of only one thing — in the end the pimple was bound to touch her when he would try to kiss her, and then, it would burst open inundating the chapel with its disgusting contents…
But in the end, he did kiss her without accident, and just out of contrariness, she had bit him instead of letting it go without comment. He had it coming, had he not?
One thing still puzzled her — what was making her so upset? the pimple by itself, the pimple refusing to burst, or the boy who did know how to kiss? As she pounded the grey soil in her grey space pondering this weighty subject, she came too close to the real world and heard voices that seemed known to her. One was her betrothed’s, the other his father’s. And they were talking about her, or maybe more about the betrothal and indirectly about her.
“What do you think of your new in-laws?” asked the father’s voice. “I wonder they did not cancel the contract when you came with those buboes on your face.” The young voice laughed and answered, “Father, I’m sure they would love your properties with or without buboes. They did the contract without asking to see me first. Does that mean nothing to you?”
“Son, I wonder where you got your practical mind. They definitely wanted an alliance with our family, and the waiting period they asked to allow Marissa to grow into her womanhood was well justified. Talking about your bride, how do you think you two will do together?”
“When I bowed to your decision, Father, I did not think I would like her, but she is a little minx, and I’m sure if her guardians will not interfere we’ll deal well enough among ourselves.”
“I’m glad you think so, my Son. You know I love you and would see you happy in your married life. She’s only eleven and will grow to be a beauty like her mother, and hopefully not a shrew like her Aunt. And now, wipe those buboes from your face, or you’ll make me go without the evening meal.” Marissa laughed highly amused to know the pimples were fake. She was too close to the two men, for one of them asked, “Did you hear that?” but she had run away through her grey and did not wait to hear any more of their comments. Knowing they both liked her was enough. Now she could be honest with herself and agree she did like Peter too.
A pity father and son were leaving on the morrow and she would not see them again until the wedding, in four years time.
Unknown to her, father and son continued their discussion, and it was about her!
“Did you hear that?” asked Peter.
“What do you mean, hear that?”
“Like somebody laughed in the distance…”
The father looked a bit puzzled and then smiled and said, “You should know that there is a legend about one of Marissa’s ancestors, a great-great-grandmother of her mother’s. It seems people believed she could hear their thoughts and tried to burn her as a witch, but when the pyre was lighted, a huge cloud of smoke covered everybody around and when it dissipated, there was no body left in the fire, and some believed they heard her laughing in the distance. If you start hearing laughter, pay attention to your new bride — she may be a witch without knowing. Then, if you do not want to stay married, ’twill be a good reason for you to use to break the contract…”
“I hope you are not thinking seriously to cancel the contract. I told you I like her.”
“Yes, but I start having doubts about her family. They were very insistent that you should live with her family and that I should endow you with all our properties even before your wedding. Too grasping for my liking.”
“Why should they insist? They know there is no other son to take over your possessions were I not to return from one unfortunate skirmish.”
“Exactly — too grasping by far… Let us forget this and go enjoy your betrothal festivities.”