Saturday Short: Close Enough, Part IV

Some people like surprises. They like the unexpected. They revel in the entropy of life.

I am not one of those people.

I went to the sink to wash the rest of the flour off of my hands and the dough that was sticking to the underside of my nails. There was nothing to be done in the time it would take a rider to reach my front door about flour in my hair or apron.

Silas had made himself scarce as had Sami. The one time the girl did not want to be first to the door. A peal of thunder shook the sky. I took a deep breath that turned into a sigh.

The rider pulled the reigns of her horse sharply and the horse skittered to a stop. Mud sprayed and caught the hem of the rider’s traveling cloak. Somehow, that was going to be my fault. Everything with Vinia was always my fault and had been since we were both apprentices.

She daintily hopped between the puddles forming on the path to the front door. Sami had complained it was not stone or brick, but merely packed dirt. It seemed, in this instance, she had a point. Another part of me hoped Vinia would fall and cover her enter backside with mud. That was a part of me that I did not voice.

I opened the door before she could knock. She almost rapped my nose instead and cut me off before I could speak.

“I suppose this is your doing.”

“You know as well as I that no one controls the weather.”

She huffed. “Are you going to make me catch cold on your doorstep as well?”

I gestured for her to come in and she flounced by me, not bothering to remove her shoes. I ground my teeth and held back a curse while lightening crashed over my neighbor’s field.

She had seated herself without asking, folding her hands carefully on the table. Her riding gloves in a pile, pooling water on the flour making it useless. Great Mother, why did you always send me such trials?

I pulled the kettle from the stove and poured to mugs of tea, waiting for her to start talking. Vinia hated being rushed and would only be longer if I showed any signs of impatience. So I waited, feeling Sami’s eyes on my back, as she thought I did not know about the knothole in the door to the back hallway.

”I had to come all this way, through this horrible storm, because you were complaining about your apprentice…again.” She tried to fluff her hem. “Why do you keep causing problems for me?”

I blew on my tea. “I simply believe she would be better served with a more compatible mentor. Do not we all want what is best for the Sisterhood?”

“Of course, but do you dare to think you know what’s best?”

“Only when it comes to mentoring apprentices.”

Her face clouded at my words. Of course she would find slight where none was meant.

“You will do what the Sisterhood asks of you and you will ensure your apprentice is ready by the next cycle of testing.” She stood up and grabbed her gloves, spraying droplets across the table and into my tea. “Do not bother Mother with your complaints again.”

In my younger years, I would have had a retort. Now, I was glad she would be going so soon.

Vinia stomped to the door and yanked it open. She turned and hissed at me, “Don’t think about trying to go around me. Focus on getting that apprentice ready or…”

“Or what?” I leaned closer. “What more could you possibly do or want from me?”

She glared and turned away without answering.

When she had mounted her horse, I called. “Vinia, what is my apprentice’s name?”

She opened her mouth, but if she spoke, it was lost to the wind and rain as she kicked her horse into a trot.

I smiled and when I closed the door, it stopped raining.