Horribilis, Pt. 4

Her father walked away without another word. That was the way that he was: when he thought the conversation was over, he left. He wasn’t so cold that he would ignore someone calling out to speak to him, though. He would turn in place and he would stand there, and unless the situation absolutely called for him to turn around and come back, he would not take a single step back towards the speaker.

Her father had never been the kind of person to retread the steps he had taken unless the situation absolutely called for it. And most of the time, even when it was Chana or her mother speaking to him, the situation did not call for it.

Chana watched her father’s gait, the way how even when he carried his staff as a simple walking stick he kept his hand close towards its center so it would be easier to strike with. “There is so much to learn from the man,” Chana thought. “The things he goes out of his way to teach and the things he teaches without realizing it.” Perhaps he would have preferred a son. She had heard the whispers that he and her mother had tried for many years to have children before she had been born, always without any success. Certainly many of the other tribes and villages had male heirs. And her father trained her as hard as any of the boys who would one day lead hunts and war parties. Perhaps he thought he had to if she were to have any hope of surviving in a world ruled by men. Perhaps he would have thought the same thing even if she had been born a boy.

Chana touched her hand to the side of her head and drew it back to examine her fingers. The blood still flowed, thin and red. “It is a woman’s nature to bleed,” she thought. “It may as well be from some place I can do something about.”

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