Micaiah tagged me for the iHeart Writing Tag a while ago, and I’m finally getting around to doing it. I’m so sorry it took me this long, Micaiah. Also, the blog you linked to that had the rules in it isn’t showing up, so I might not do this right. I apologize.
Anyway, here’s my short story (which is actually quite long 😉 ):
Cara’s olive green skirt swept across the grass, rustling as she walked. The arrows in the quiver at her side jostled each other with a soft rattling sound. She figured the edge of the bow she held as she took a deep breath of the warm, spring air. Butterflies swirled and danced above the wild flowers straggling from the edge of the woods; as if expressing the joy that filled Cara’s heart. Sir Stephen was holding a banquet that night in honor of the Thane of Silvestar’s visit, and every friend she had in the countryside would be there. The idea of trying to introduce Ayla to everyone nagged at her blissful mind, the only thing tainting her happiness. She hoped with Lord Silvestar there she would be excused from the responsibility.
A soft rustle near the edge of the forest fell upon her ears, and she turned toward the trees. A small hare crouched warily on the verge of the trees, its brown-grey ears twitching. Cara snatched an arrow from her quiver as silently as she could and put it to her bow. She aimed quickly and let the arrow slide through her fingers, the red feathers brushing her cheek. The small animal darted away into the underbrush and her arrow struck the ground, nearly six inches off her mark. She sighed and started forward to retrieve her shaft.
“That was a good shot, Cara,” a voice said softly behind her.
Cara jumped slightly, then blushed as she turned to face the middle-aged man behind her. The gilt hem of his blue tunic glittered softly in the April sunshine. His once-dark hair was streaked with silver.
“I did not know you had followed me, Lord Silvestar,” she said sheepishly.
“Focused on shooting, I suppose?” he said, the greyish whiskers on his cheek rippling with his smile. “You’re a good shot.” Cara felt a warm flutter tug her heart, but it faded as he added, “That’s why I wanted you to train Ayla.”
She broke eye-contact and glanced uneasily at the forest. “Yes, thank you. . . Do you think she does well?” she added, after an awkward pause. “Shall you take her with you this time?”
Lord Silvestar grew grave. “No, Cara, she is not ready for that yet. Do you wish her to go?”
“I wish her to be ready,” Cara stammered, surprised by the sudden question. She carefully studied the red fletching of her lost arrow against the forest weeds.
“Cara,” he said, gently but seriously. She glanced up, and the noble’s brown eyes were stern. “You grow weary of her, do you not?”
“She knows so little,” the young girl moaned.
“That is why she must remain here, Cara,” Lord Silvestar said. His eyes were pleading now. “You know she is not ready to come with me. I trusted you to look after her. She is the most precious thing I have, dear. Ayla—and you.” Cara felt her heart skitter—when had he last called her dear? His fatherly smile meant more to her than almost anything else in the world, but something made her look away. “She needs you, Cara. She does not have your strength or your skill, but she has not received the love given you. You must remember—you cannot dream of what she has been through.”
Cara felt tears sting her eyes. “I am sorry, I shall try,” she murmured, brushing a strand of her chocolate-brown hair out of her face. “I promise I shall, sir.”
“That is all I can ask you to do,” he answered. He reached out his leather-gloved hand and grasped her own. “You are capable of love, more than you have realized. No one else can give her what you can.” A sorrowful shadow clouded his face. “I must go soon—look after her for me.” He bent and kissed the calloused hand he held. He smiled sadly at her and turned away.
Cara drew a deep breath and wiped her moist eyes. She walked slowly to the forest for her arrow. As she bent to pick it up, the sound of pounding feet and the clatter of crowded arrows broke into her thoughts. “Cara!” a young girl’s voice called.
With an inward sigh, Cara steeled herself and turned toward the maiden following her from the castle. “Hello, Ayla.”
Ayla’s blue eyes sparkled as she smiled. Her golden locks tumbled down over the dull, brown work dress she wore. She held a longbow and a quiver hung at her back.“Sir Stephen said you were. . . rabbit hunting,” she began timidly.
Cara nodded. “Yes, I thought I would see if I could hit anything they could use at the banquet.”
“May I help you?” Ayla asked shyly.
Cara winced, inwardly. Ayla could hit hardly anything but a large, stationary target. She does not have your strength or your skill, but she has not received the love given you. Lord Silvestar’s words echoed through her mind. You are capable of love. . . No one else can give her what you can. And she had promised him. “Yes, you may come,” she said out loud, forcing a smile.
Ayla grinned as she turned towards the forest, her clear eyes darting from tree to tree. Cara bent and picked up her arrow. The younger girl glanced up at her, some thought Cara could not read flickering behind her bright eyes. “Did you miss one?”
Cara felt resentment bubble up, but forced it down with a rueful laugh. “Yes, I did.” Could she spend the rest of the afternoon like this?
“’Tis encouraging,” Ayla answered seriously. “I should have thought you never did.”
“Everyone misses a shot sometimes,” Cara stammered, surprised. ‘Tis strange, she thought, how kindness grows easier as you go on. She would have thought it would grow harder. Maybe Ayla’s training would be pleasant if she let it be so.
“Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
-John 13:34b, 35