916 Years Later: Chapter Two: The Start Of A Friendship

     I saw the young woman every day of Mass. I often sat in the back with my mother, and the girl sat much farther up than I did. Most of the mass, she was staring at me, her head turned away from the center of attention. It became obvious she was not very devout. I paid no attention to her, but I knew she was watching me. She would never approach me after the service, she would leave and I would stay to pray for another hour or two. This happened week by week and was expected every time I had gone to mass. She had always wanted to approach me, but was never given the chance. I didn't really wish to approach her myself. It was clear she had taken a liking to me, perhaps even wanted me to court her, but I did not want anything of that sort. I had decided long ago I was to devote my life to religion, so I did not entertain ideas of courtship or marriage. I do not remember when exactly, but one Sunday the young woman had sat down on the pew next to me after my mother had left. I ignored her as I maintained my prayer, but I knew she was there. She seemed restless, almost pacing in her own seat, waiting for me to acknowledge her. It almost bothered her that I was so emotionless in nature. I kept praying, until she had purposefully coughed. I turned towards her, and told her she could speak whenever she had wanted to. The young woman quickly retorted that she did not want to be rude, as I seemed deep in prayer. I gave out a slight chuckle, which caught her entirely off guard. I said it wouldn't have been rude, as I knew she was waiting for me. She had chuckled quite nervously, but didn't say anything in return. There was a pause, so I turned back to the altar, when she quickly blurted out her name. I shifted my eyes towards her, my head still towards the altar. I told her in a half-polite manner that it was nice to meet her formally. I didn't think she understood what I said, due to my awful pronunciation. She told me I spoke terribly, saying my accent was awful. I chucked at this, because it was true. She quickly purposed to help me fix it, but I did not know what to think of her offer. The girl was unlike any woman I had met. She was so far from fitting into the woman’s role of that time, that it startled me. I instantly became noticeably nervous. I asked her why she wanted to help me, and she simply said she thought I could use a friend. My mind disagreed, but I felt myself saying yes. As the words of agreement slipped from my mouth, regret instantly hit me, but I didn’t show it. She told me there was only one problem; that I had to ask her father for permission to see her for my "lessons." I felt the knot in my stomach tighten. I was not a very social man, let alone the idea of asking for permission from her father bewildered me. I was momentarily speechless. I turned to her and she was smiling coyly at me. She offered to ask for me if I was too nervous. I gave a shy nod, as we both stood up. She told me I had to introduce myself though, better than how I had introduced myself to her. I walked behind her, towards the exit of the church, regretting that I had made the choice to agree to her. I felt as if I was walking to my execution, being led in irons. We walked up to a man, shorter than I was, but stood sternly with a look of prejudged disdain. I had politely introduced myself, but he seemed to ignore it as he looked back at his daughter. His tone spoke of disapproval as they conversed that I was looking for lessons on articulation. I stood there in dead bewildered silence, as the two seemed to argue over it. The man finally seemed to agree to it, as long as it wasn't for courtship. I politely agreed as the girl and her father and mother took their leave. I stood there for a moment, trying to understand what I had gotten myself into.
     The day of my lessons, I was helping my mother with our quaint farm which grew enough to barely feed us. My mother and I were soon to be done with our work when I had told her I had an errand to run that afternoon. My mother looked at me with her green eyes with a concerned look. She asked me what sort of business I had that I had not told her about before. I kept working, until she demanded me to stop and tell her. I looked at my mother. Age had been catching up to her. Her hair had turned to silver since my father had passed. She was a very pretty woman, full of life, until my father's passing had made her grow weary. I told her I had made a friend, and kept working. She stopped me again after thanking God for the answered prayer. She asked me all about my new friend, except for her gender, which I would keep a secret. My mother would have taken it the wrong way, and made awkward inquisitions on when we would get married and have children. I avoided such a conversation at all costs. She was very happy I could be social enough to speak to another human being other than her, let alone make a friend. I didn't explain how my new friend made me, not vice-versa. My mother was happy enough as it was. She continued working while I saw the young woman walking down the road, appearing from the horizon. Without looking at me she told me to go to my friend, she would finish the work. I thanked her, wiped the sweat of my face, and started to walk towards the road. She cried out for me not to get in trouble as I walked away, then continued to work.
     I had met the young girl not far from the house. She did not have her usual demeanor about her, but instead seemed bothered. I asked her how she knew where I lived, which she gave me her answer with little enthusiasm. It was well known that I my mother and I had taken over the abandoned house, but her demeanor worried me. I asked her what was wrong, but she did not want to reply. I asked again, this time she had told me that someone was going to die. The young woman tried to explain that the church was going to hold an execution, but I could not understand the words entirely. She tried to explain it to me, but almost burst into tears. I told her to collect herself, as we were going to witness the death of this man. She went into panic. She asked me why, but I did not answer. She tried keeping up with my walking speed with little success. The young woman had kept repeating her question, each time with more panicked of a voice. I responded telling her I had to see if the church would kill a man. She pleaded with me to stop, that she could not see it herself. I explained to her that if she did not want to follow me, she did not have to follow me, but if she did, I would be at the church to see the man be put to death. We walked quietly all the way there.
     When we arrived, the man was already tied to the noose, awaiting his fall. The young woman stared at what hung above him. There was a sign with something written on it. I could not read, but I saw her face as she took in each letter, scanning each one in horror. I did not say anything. After a bit of time, the man dropped, his neck snapping instantly. His body twitched violently. I watched for a few moments, unmoved, but the young woman had left as soon as he reached the end of the rope. I followed behind her. She was obviously crying I followed her down the road; we both remained quiet until we she had stopped outside a small farm. She was still crying, and looked at me with eyes of anger. I apologized. I explained I had to know why the church had to kill a man in such a manner. She lied to me, saying she didn't know. I told her she didn't have to lie to me, because I knew she had read the tablet above the man's head. Her tears ceased, and a wave of panic struck her. Woman could be killed for knowing how to read, but I assured her that I would not tell anyone that I had known her secret literacy and her lack of faith in God. The young woman was puzzled with me. Here was a devout and religious man, who knew she did not truly practice faith in God, could read, yet did not care. I assured her that each person's salvation was their own, and God decides if you deserve it or not, not the priests or followers of Christ. She wiped her face, smiled, and told me it was time for my lesson, because I spoke terribly. I sighed, and nodded. I secretly enjoyed the time we spent together that day. I walked home in time of supper, secretly looking forward to seeing my friend once again.

Chapter 3
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May 19, 2012