Snippet Sunday #14

For Snippet Sunday this week, a little piece of an untitled work in progress (yes, I know, I have a million). This one’s about Kirsten Kalt, and it ought to go in a Tales from the Knights collection, if I can get my act together.

~*~

The familiar kid-again smell of the barn enveloped Kirsten as soon as she stepped inside. It was much warmer in here; the bodies of the reindeer made it a pleasant place to be in winter, even if it cooled off quick after they left. She yanked her mittens off with her teeth and put back her hood, never mind the flyaway hair it gave her.

It was quiet here, at least for now, and she stuffed her mittens into her pockets and blew out a sigh. She’d forgotten the bad parts of home in the middle of the missing it, just like always.

The house was even more crowded than she’d remembered, which only made sense. All the brothers and their wives and children, plus a couple of the sisters and their husbands and children, in to visit blasphemous little Kirsten… yeah, it made sense. Besides all them, there was Mama, with a woolen blanket around her shoulders, taking up three times the space an old lady ought to.

She finger-combed her hair, which never helped matters really, just made it crackle and zap, and leaned back against the door. There was somebody in here—she could tell because a lantern burned on a stall divider’s hook, and not even the tiniest Kalt would’ve left it. Ivar’s kids especially. Shit, she couldn’t even count how many he was up to. There were little ones and middle ones and older ones, even a baby. His wife must be exhausted. Kirsten could only be glad her skills hadn’t been called upon to deliver another screaming red thing.

Yet.

She sucked in another draught of the ordinary-life scent: sweet hay and dry oats, straw and shit, reindeer milk fermenting, richly sour, in the shed attached to the barn. Whoever was in with her, she couldn’t see, but now that she relaxed, she heard the rhythmic shuff-shuff of a currycomb. One of the hundredth generation (most likely) of barn cats chased a mouse, scuttling and scuffling.

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