The sun broke fully out by the mid -afternoon and it beat against his skin like the a cool breeze on a summer day and with it the spirits soared into the sky. Cynthia on his back and Jonathon, who was almost turning eight, straggled in the back. He could hear the little feet run for a few steps to catch up once in a while, and he could not help but to smile. The youth of his siblings still sometimes surprises him. Soon the road they were walking on turned into gravel and then the gravel turned into powdered rocks and dirt. As the road turned so did the lack of civilization, just as he had hoped. Soon he hoped they would find a small village that they could rest for the night at least, otherwise they were going to have to hope that it did not snow or rain on them. The clouds started to break apart and the feeling of warm tingled his skin. Cynthia’s grip lightened on his neck and he moved her to the front of his arms, cradling her like the baby she was. Instantly, her thumb went in her mouth and that angelic face went placid with sleep.
Corn fields sprung up around them like dirt on a city road around them. The further you walked from the city center the more it grew. Suddenly the corn was above his shoulders and the sun was setting upon the golden waves of tops. He thought it would make good cover for the night so he ducked within the stalks and felt the cuts start upon his face and open arms. Jonathon tried running through it and ended up stopping quickly, rubbing his invisible wounds. He stopped in a more open area where the stalks were not so close together and set down his sleeping sister on a pile of broken corn leaves. Jonathon quickly laid down next to her and covered them with his half of the blanket and closed his eyes and quickly followed her into the realm of dreams and angels.
He sat down in the dirt next to their sleeping bodies before he heard shouting. He rose quicker than an arrow leaving a bow. He know he could not protect them from anyone who had eaten anything in the last week but he would definitely try until they killed him.
“Oi, who out there?” a scratchy voice yelled. He stayed quieter than a church mouse, scarcely breathing, his eyes darting back towards the voice and the sleeping bundle next to his feet.
“I hear ya out there, who out there?” the voice suddenly had a face as it peeked through the plants surrounding them. Both of the jumped back nearly ten feet out of fright, the man landing on his rear.
“Geez boy, you gave me a fright. What ya doing up here? Should you not be inside or helping tend your family farm?” Squinted eyes looked him up and down. He knew what he saw, a pitiful site. Worn pants and that holes big enough to show both his knees and dirt covering him from head to toe. He had nothing to eat for quite some time so he knew he was thinner than he most people would consider healthy. His hair was long and in his eyes, and his shirt barely even clung by threads to his chest.
“You aren’t the Wilson boy are you?”
He forced his voice to come out of his tight chest. “No, sir.”
“You got children with ya, I see.”
“Yes, sir.” The only response was a grunt and his hands motioned for him to follow him. He did not object he picked up both his sleeping siblings, arousing them from sleep only for moments before they clung to him and fell back asleep. He made sure the bag was across his shoulders. He tried to ignore the tiny droplets of blood he felt on his skin as he made his way through what he now considered a death trap.
“Elizabeth, we have company.”
“Company?” An older woman who appeared to be Elizabeth looked him up and down like a rotten piece of meat. “Absolutely not.”
“He can sleep outside, but the children must be fed. No complaints. Are you a Christian woman or not?”
“Humph. Bring them over here. God they are filthy! Do you always care for children this way. They must be bathed and fed immediately and then put to bed to rest. You cannot walk so far with young children.” She turned her head in disgust.
“Come here boy.” the man said.
“Hush, woman.” Isiah sat in a chair and looked up to his eyes. “What is your name boy?”
“Faolan, traditional name huh? You do not look like a Faolan.”
“It was the name of my father. He was a soldier before my parents caught the illness.”
“Hmm. Well you can sleep outside in the barn. The children will sleep in here tonight. We have a spare bed for them. Tomorrow you can make your keep for this season tending the farm with me. If you slack I will kick your rump back to that dirty city you came from, hear me?”
“Yes sir. Thank you sir.”
“Now sit for a while and Elizabeth will give you some soup and then I will show you to the barn. Be up by the sunrise at the latest, ya understand? I do not give second chances.”
“Yes sir.” Faolan sat down next to Isiah and graciously took a bowl of warm soup with fresh vegetables in it and tried to eat slowly as his entire being started to relax into the comfort of feeding his siblings.