Author Topic: Renelle Montaigne- Chasing a Ghost  (Read 266 times)

Little Lotte

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Renelle Montaigne- Chasing a Ghost
« on: March 26, 2020, 11:59:53 AM »

Mordent in the winter is a frigid and unwelcoming time. Occasionally it snows, and it was cold enough to do so today but with the salty sea air dominating the region there was left instead a thick frost that hung heavy in the air. Windows were iced over, the brittle green foliage would snap and break under pressure and the inhabitants of this bleak and desolate land huddled in their homes or taverns, their home fires constantly burning bright.

The buildings composing this particular hamlet were covered in a deep layer of salty ice, the fury of the wind having been so great that the icicles froze at an angle. Mist settled all along the ground, distorting the glow of the hearths that spilled out from each window, so that they appeared  more like ever watchful sinister eyes than invitations to warmth and comfort.

In one particular home there was a young girl, about twenty years of age. She sat perched on a small stool, positioned next to the fireplace strategically to benefit as much as she could from the warmth it gave off. Her skin was pale, like porcelain as if it had never seen the sun, which brought in to focus the dashing of freckles along the bridge of her nose. She had waist length hair that was as dark as night, a gentle curl weaving its way through to give her a very classic look. She was a beautiful girl to say the least, and most in the hamlet thought as much.Yet the sadness that lingered around her, the rumors that clung to her family like vines, made the simple village folk keep her at arms length.

A melancholy air filled the small home as she sat, her shoulders slumped forward, her deep blue eyes as evocative of her burden as she gazed into the flickering flames before her.

“Why did you never tell me, mother?” Her voice held a husky tinge to it, influenced by the thick salty air no doubt. “I had a right to know he was alive.”

“Renelle,, he left us. I...” her mother stammered, lost as for how to explain away her sin. “He left no word on why, he didn’t even say goodbye to me!” Desperation came into her voice as she moved closer to her daughter, an outstretched hand slowly positioning itself on to the girl’s shoulder.

Renelle’s body flinched under her mother’s touch.  As gentle and familiar as it was, she still felt it an assault. Anger began to well up within her. An emotion that she had never understood fully. Her mother was not an angry person, she was full of love and compassion, and everything she had ever done had been for the benefit of those around her. That only made Renelle feel more rage. Her father. He must have known anger. What else did he know?

She stood up in so swift a motion that it knocked the stool over, a loud thunk permeating the silence of her ire. For many moments there was only a tense quiet between them, a tension written in Renelle’s set jaw, her thin lips, the hardness in her gaze.

“You took away my choice, mother. You let me believe he was dead, or unwanted or forgotten!” The more she spoke, the louder her voice became, the guise of calm slipping away quickly. “You were selfish! So selfish! I don’t even know how to look at you right now.”

Renelle turned away and her mother began to sob. Great wracking tears of grief flowed down her cheeks..

“Where is he, mother?” Her words came sharply, like knives. Knives thrust hard.

The girl’s mother’s sobs quietened. For a moment the only sound in the small living room was the crackle of the flames within the little stone hearth. Renelle turned back to her, and their eyes met once more, the daughter silently demanding an answer from her mother. After what seemed like hours of deliberation and with a great exhale of breath, one full of defeat and resignation, the answer finally came in a single spoken word.


Satisfied then at last, Renelle moved off towards a sturdy desk nestled within the corner of the room. She leaned her hip against the table, giving it a weighty nudge and then pulling open the center drawer. That was a trick long since learned for taming the old wood in the salty sea air. She rummaged for a time before pulling out a rolled up piece of parchment,  one that she had studied for days on end throughout her childhood; a map of the surrounding countries. Even then she’d wondered if any of those countries would be able to teach her more about the woman she was, and the father she’d never seen. It was because of this that she knew Richemulot to be only a few days walk from her home. He was there, so he was close.

“Renelle, what are you doing?” Her mother’s voice snapped her back to reality. She had forgotten that she was still there in the house, in the tiny frost covered hamlet, in her home of twenty years, so lost as she was in travel plans.

“I am going to find him.”

“I will go with you. You cannot go there alone.”

“No. You kept this-...”

“I did it to keep you safe!” Another round of pleading came from the woman, her desperation renewed.

“You lied! You do not lie to the ones you claim to love.” As the words came rushing out of her mouth, the angry woman crumbled, leaving behind a sad little girl. Her lower lip wobbled as she looked over her mother, the only family or friend she had ever had in her life. She drew a hand along her face, tracing the contours of her cheek to bring her fingers into her hair before she let out a sigh.

“Alright. Pack warm, bring food.”

Over the next hour the two women worked together to distill their lives into what could be carried on their backs. Who knew when, if ever, they would return? . At the last, Renelle doused the fire in the hearth, sending a chill immediately through the minuscule home. She dared not look back as she stepped out of the grave of her old life. She knew that if she delayed her courage may wane and she would remain there, fatherless, forever. So Renelle closed the door behind her, soft leather boots crunching on the frozen blades of grass as she began the journey to Richemulot, with her mother in tow.

“One last thing mother...” She drew her tongue along her lips, wetting them before she spoke. Her lips were already peeling, blistered from the cold air. They would only get worse with travel. Situating her thick woolen scarf around her neck to protect the sensitive skin she peered over at the woman with a curious gaze, the anger of earlier cooled.

“What is his name?”

Her mother laughed. They had been so caught up in the emotions of the revelation and then the haste of departure  that neither of them had seen fit to even broach the topic of the absent father’s identity. She hadn’t spoken the name out loud since the day he left, she had never told a soul of him once he had disappeared, afraid to earn the ire of her family once more. But it was different now, the decision had been made and secrets could only now hurt her beloved daughter.  And so she said it, the ghost of a smile playing on her lips.

“Jean Renaud.”