A Mother’s Love
“He was always precocious,” I said to Ulfhild, but she wasn’t fooled. She knew as well as I did that ‘precocious,’ despite or because of its proper definition, merely meant trouble. And my son was definitely that.
“I can’t blame the boy, really,” I said. “It’s just the two of us and I was the one who taught him how to hunt. Takes a lot to keep us both fed.”
What’s he dragged in this time?” Ulfhild asked.
I took another look at the bloody mess lying on the floor I’d just swept. “There’s not enough left of it to tell. I’ll throw it in the pot and see what happens. Will you be staying for breakfast?”
Ulfhild winked at me. “Love to, hon, but you know what the sunlight does to my skin. Best I was off before dawn.”
Before or after the sun, Ulfhild’s skin would still probably look like rock. Not that I really wanted to find out. It wasn’t as if I had a lot of company out where we lived, and Ulfhild was better than most, even if she was a mountain troll. As friends went, I could have done much worse.
Like my boy’s father, for example. To this day I wasn’t sure who or even what he was, not that either mattered much at the time. When the spring rites are beckoning and you hear the call of the Beltane Fire, what’s a girl to do? I know what most of them did, and I was no different. Those who sought me out knew what they were seeking, but him? A hulking brute, all physical and no mental whatsoever. I didn’t mind. I still dreamed of him, now and then, but only because he wasn’t around. Things wouldn’t have worked out so well if he had stayed, but I loved our sweet son, though he wasn’t, to be blunt, the sharpest tool in the shed. I think he took after his father that way.
I saw Ulfhild out the door, and not a moment too soon, as the first rays of dawn on the horizon heralded the approaching morning. My beautiful son just stared at the light and grinned.
“I should have named you ‘Happy,” you know,” I said, because he always was. Especially when making a mess. I tidied up his kill for the pot, and finally decided that it must have been a deer, judging from a hoof lying near the bottom. It made a decent breakfast, but it was also a warning I should have heeded. His next night’s catch was a little easier to identify. A young man, barely twenty by the look of him. Probably a hero, or would have been if he hadn’t met my son.
“I think our next lesson should be on preparing game,” I said. “You’re already good enough at catching it.”
He just grinned up at me, and I could only sigh. “Grendel, my joy, what am I going to do with you?”
©2018 by Richard Parks. All Rights Reserved.