When Dawn Breaks

She sat in a stained cotton chemise, half a moth-eaten blanket wrapped about her shoulders for warmth. Outside her cabin, the wind gusted, pulling free the reddening leaves and leaving bare branches in its wake. Her dress lay crumpled in her lap as she carefully stitched sleeves onto it. The worn fabric tore from too many years of carefully removing and replacing the sleeves. Each rip brought with it a fresh wave of tears.

Her sister fell ill at winter’s end last year and she wasted away for months before succumbing to death’s embrace. When the flies brought summer’s plague, she lost her mother who had never quite regained her will to live after burying her eldest daughter as she had her youngest years before. This winter she was alone. This winter she had no one to huddle against for warmth at night on her lumpy, straw mattress.

She shook her dress out, pulling it on, and fingering the pleats where she had taken the dress in time and time again. Though she was not inept at foraging for nuts, berries, and the occasional small game, most nights she went to bed hungry. Since her mother’s demise, she found it increasingly difficult to muster the effort necessary to scavenge for her next meal.

When the cough came, she ate her last handful of dried berries and crawled into her lonely bed, cocooning herself in a blanket. When the morning sun doused the horizon in its pink light, she did not rise to greet it.

At the age of six, Eliza was certain of two things. The first was that she had stories to tell. The second was that she had no talent for illustrating them herself. Talent or no, she still wrote and illustrated her first book, one that should be located and locked away if only to prevent her parents from embarrassing her terribly by showing it off alongside baby pictures. Now she spends her days writing stories that she isn't embarrassed to show off after a little bit of polishing.

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