Word Count 600
Your Dearest Lives
My corrections to Amleth were nearly done. My back ached and my eyes burned. Writing, done well, is work as hard as the plow or the herring net. Kit was working on a project of his own, something about fairies. He pushed his chair back, the sound of it, sudden in the silence.
“Storm seems to have missed us, Kyd,” he said. He opened the shutter, and the scent of the world came in. I could see a little of the sky, blue as a blue egg. A mass of clouds too, piled up like feather pillows.
Kit was wrong about the storm. I could smell it coming, the earth was opening for the rain. The leaves of trees shivered in expectation
“We should--” Kit said. But I never found out the rest of it; we both heard the rushing footsteps, the knock at the door.
“Marcella--” I drew her into a close embrace. We usually met at her house. Besides she had a new man now, since the baby. Still I was glad to see her. She was awkward against me, even without the great belly. I could feel a steely tension in her, under the soft cover of her flesh. She was not here to kiss me.
Kit stepped from the window to the shadow of the room.
“Give you good day, Sir.” Her curtsy was absentminded. She knew his name of course, though I do not think they had met before today. I shut the door, and she shone in the dim little chamber, darkness and light, like the stormy sky.
“How now, honey, what troubles thee?” I said.
“This. Did your friend write this Tom; did you?”
The paper that she held out to me was bigger than a book page. It was meant to be put up on a wall. And indeed it had been, it was damp and mud spattered.
A pretty bit of writing, here. It scanned, the rhyme did not falter or bind. The threat was clear and direct, hateful. Dutch strangers should watch themselves, stop taking Englishmen's jobs, better yet, leave town; Jews too. Old words. Fighting words. Kindling words for that acrid fire, that burned underground; the one that came with rocks and screams, It was signed 'Tamberlaine.'
I knew Kit had not written it, of course. As sure as I knew his step or face from any other. But Marcella did not know, neither would the rest of London.
“My mother saw it,” Marcella said. “She's so afraid.” Marcella's mother and father had come here from Africa, by way of Holland. They were assigned to the Dutch church, the one designated for Strangers, for dark faces, and
strange tongues. And it was there that Marcella went, every Sunday, on pain of fine. There she sat and stood and knelt, in her best dress, and a pristine kerchief, Marcella, with her brown skin, and her sharp tongue, her stout boots, and her soft breasts. She had been born in London, the same as me.
“I did not write this, Mistress.” Kit said. She looked at him with quizzical sorrow
“My mother has nightmares you know.” She made an abrupt flapping gesture. She opened the door, shut it quietly, and was gone.
“Jesus, “ Kit said. He went to the table and sat. “They want a bloody riot,” his gaze was distant and cold. “Someone was paid for this—I have to go.” He left too, taking the paper with him. I, and my unease, got back to work on Hamleth,