Here’s a bit from the short story I’m working on now. It’s put together from two related stories I did for Story A Day May.
excerpt from “A New Name For Reticence”
by Marian Allen
The traveler approaching now, although slow, ascended without rest or hesitation. As it – she – came closer, Brother Reticence could distinguish a woman – an old woman – dressed in blue and green and gold, the mountains’ chilly sunlight glinting from a gold pendant resting at the base of her throat.
When she reached the gatehouse window, Brother Reticence greeted her courteously and curiously. She was hardly dressed for a walk that was at least half a climb, and she carried no supplies. She must be exhausted, dehydrated, and famished, yet she appeared to be fresh and well. The pendant, he now saw, was in the form of a large golden dragon, symbol of spring.
“I greet you, traveler. What brings you on this difficult journey?”
“I’ve come to visit my sister. She lives here.”
“Show me your Writ.”
She laughed gently, eyes crinkling and twinkling. “I have no Writ.”
“Then your sister will have to visit you.”
“She heads a large family.”
He understood. One of the reasons he had chosen the monastery was the self-knowledge that he lacked the qualities it took to head an extended household and the qualities it took to subordinate himself to anyone less than Antosillia herself. He was beginning to wonder if he lacked the qualities that took, too.
“Then I hope you can write, because that’s the only visiting you can do.” He pointed to a narrow doorway cut into the rock. “There’s a shelter. Food, wine, water, a bed, paper, pen, and ink. Rest and refresh yourself, write a letter, address it, take some food and drink with you for your return to Layounna, and go back.”
She cocked her head and said, “You don’t belong here.”
Sister Charity, behind him, drew a sharp breath at the woman’s statement.
The woman smiled and spoke again, her clear eyes meeting his. “You think your own thoughts, Brother. You want to choose your own service.”
“I’ve chosen this service,” he said.
“And they tell you what to do. And you question it, every time, in your heart if not aloud.”
He felt himself flush with the heat of the truth.
Behind him, Sister Charity whispered, so that only he could hear, “The temptress weaves nets of seduction to snare the faithful!”
From the way the handsome old woman’s eyes crinkled, he could tell she had heard, in spite of the Sister’s low tone. Brother Reticence laughed. The old woman carried herself well, she was obviously sharp and strong, but “temptress” was an ill fit.
“You’d better leave,” he said.
Sister Charity raised her voice. “She’s tempted you! It was deliberate!”
“She didn’t tempt me. She only stated an opinion. She made no suggestion.”
The old woman said, “I hate to be the cause of contention, so let me be clear. Brother, leave the monastery. Go down into the lowland and find your life. It’s waiting for you there.”
Sister Charity backed against the stairwell wall. “You heard that, didn’t you? There’s no doubt now!” She thrust a gesture at the racked crossbow as if she were loading the weapon for him. “It’s her death sentence.”
“It is, you know,” he told the old woman.
She said, “If you say so.” With an indulgent smile and a friendly nod, she turned, her blue and green garments swirling around her ankles. Ignoring the shelter, she began her long journey home.
“Shoot her!” Sister Charity’s voice rose in panic, not rage. “You’re letting her go! You’ve contaminated us all!” She dove for the crossbow, willing to step out of place and do his duty for him rather than let sin speak and go unpunished.
He held her back until the target was out of range.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Tempt your character.