When she and her family arrived home, Tawney’s brother was quick to disappear. Tawney had been thinking over things on the way home, and she had decided that she wasn’t going cry anymore.
Instead she went to her chest to pick out the warmest clothes she had. Though they were a little tattered, and a bit small, they were the best she had. She laid the clothes on top of her chest and then stood.
Her father’s hand closed over her shoulder and squeezed gently. “Have you decided on what you’ll pick?” He said. Tawney knew that he was just as sad as her mother, who sat weaving out her brother’s new tunic for the coming winter, but she knew that he knew that he would have to be strong for his family.
“The food.” Her father nodded, and she continued. “I’ll have until nightfall to find shelter, and I can gather sticks for a fire and stuff as I go. But I’ve always been bad about missing mealtimes. The bread and the fish will at least make me a good lunch.”
Her father nodded, then hugged her, hard. “That’s my daughter, good with her mind, even when her body fails her.” Tawney hugged back. She’d learned a lot from her father, like how to be composed, even when worst came to worst. Her mother had always had trouble with her emotions, but Tawney’s father had held firm, a staff for his family to lean on.
“Thanks, Dad. A lot. For everything.” Tawney let go and sprinted out the door and into the woods. It was easy for her to find her brother, all she had to do was go to the stream. When she got there he was completely submerged. She sat in the shadow of her favorite tree and waited.
As soon as he surfaced, she called out, “Don’t drown yourself.” He swiftly twisted around, a surprised look on his face. It had been an old joke between them for her to say, ‘Don’t drown yourself’ or something to that effect when she came out to here. The first time she’d come to fetch him from the stream, he’d been under water. She’d thought he was drowning and had screamed, and then started yelling ‘don’t drown’ over and over again. He had surfaced and calmed her down, and then they had both laughed about it.
“Sis! I. . . uh. . . I wasn’t expecting you.” He dragged himself out of the water. He had always used it as a safe haven, since he was the best swimmer in the family, and possibly the village. That was how Tawney had known exactly where he would be.
Tawney looked at the water. She’d never been above her knees in the stuff, and now she wondered if maybe she should have learned. Maybe she should have learned a lot of things that she hadn’t.
“Hey sis, I was thinking, maybe you should wear my old winter suit. It might be better. It won’t be small on you, so it’ll be better than your tattered thing, and my new suit will be done soon anyway. And even if it isn’t, I’ll handle the cold.”
Tawney looked at him. “I really thought it would be you. I guess everyone did. But it’s alright, between us, it’s better for the family that I go. You’re too much help to Dad. If you’d gone, it’d have been a lot harder for us. So, just promise me you’ll take care of Mom and Dad.”
“Okay sis, just promise me one thing. If you make it through, tell me every detail. And I mean every detail. I want to live it through you, if I can. Some how, some way.”