They told her she was the spring. She would bring them the soft rain and send the storms to the people on the other side of the hills. She would bring warm breezes and let the high tides batter the coast far away beyond the dunes. She would bring the sun to warm the earth and coax the sleeping seeds awake. Not that anyone said that she had the power to change the course of the sun, the tides or the winds. She was just a girl after all, an insignificant girl. She was the appeaser, the offering to ensure that the worst did not happen.
She should be proud, her mother had said as she wove the yellow flowers into a crown. The gods could be cruel, but she would be their shield. The girl didn’t want to be a shield. She wanted to run in the water meadows like the other girls. She wanted to dance around the fire at midsummer and see the face of her beloved in the flames. She wanted to take the hand of the youngest son of the farmer with the barley field next to theirs, and run with him through the meadows and the flames of midsummer.
So she slipped away, the yellow crown on her head, across the meadows to where the salt flats began. She sat beneath the willows and listened to the blackbirds singing for their loved ones, and she wanted to weep. But the drumming of many feet dried her tears before they could fall. They were coming for her. A voice inside told her to run, but there was nowhere to hide, and she would not disgrace herself and her family.
The birdsong trembled in her ears, and she so wanted to suspend time and hold the moment forever. A voice broke from the rhythm of footsteps and her heart leapt with hope. She turned eagerly and saw his face, the face of the farmer’s youngest son, and hope died. His finger pointed accusingly and in his eyes was the wild light of murder.