This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2018 by Inara Reynolds - All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Book cover by Inara Reynolds
Iniquitous Part One
The wind howled around them as lightning leaped from the sky. As each thunderclap sounded around the carriage, the ground quaked. Lucy began to cry. The small girl gripped Leonora's gray shawl in her fingers, interweaving her tiny digits into the woven wool. Leonora smiled down at the terrified 5-year-old and patted her small hand.
"There, there now, Goosey Lucy, I will find us shelter until the storm passes, at least for the night," Leonora assured the child. The horse pulling her carriage was getting flighty with each clap of thunder, and the more the noise rang around him, the less control she had of him. She could see the beast losing its mind, sending them crashing into one of the ditches along the dirt road that was filling with water from the heavy downpour.
Lucy nodded her head at the schoolmarm as she stuck her thumb into her mouth, sucking on it for comfort. The little girl watched the rain falling down around them as the horse pranced on. Leonora turned her head back to look at the other two girls, Matilda and Agnes. For children so young, 10 and 12 respectively, they had been through so much in the last week before they came into her care.
All three of the girls, sisters, witnessed the murder of their parents. The Constable summoned Leonora to collect the orphaned children and take them to the All-Girls Orphanage she oversaw. The children were considered orphans, having no living relatives. The two older girls had not spoken since the murder of their parents, try as the Constable may. Their response to the Constable's questioning was to sob with no consolation or sit and rock back and forth with their hands over their eyes.
Lucy was the talkative one. She told the Constable a whale of a tale about seeing her parents ripped apart by a beast of sorts walking on two legs. "It was red and black and smelled like tar," the child told them. Despite the Constable dismissing the child's account as a fairy tale created in the mind of a 5-year-old, he couldn't explain the state the bodies were in when he found them. He hadn't seen anything like it in his 30 years of law enforcement.
Leonora smiled at the girls as they looked at her, peering out from under their blanket. She turned her head back to the road, looking for shelter. Leonora lost her parents to death at a young age as a fire swept across their farm. She understood how these children felt, she had been just as traumatized as the two older girls, but she found Lucy's nonchalant attitude about her parent's death concerning. The child laughed as Leonora asked her to tell her about the murder of her parents and recounted the same story she told the Constable.
"Each child reacts to trauma in different ways," Leonora told the Constable as he shared his concern with her.
"I know they do, Madam, but this child-" The Constable began as Leonora waved him off.
"Constable, all children deal with grief and trauma differently, I will hear no more of it."
Leonora understood childhood trauma all too well. She grew up in the very same orphanage and over the last 50 years, since achieving adulthood, she dedicated her life to helping little girls in the same predicament. Many of the children spent their lives in the home, too traumatized for a family to adopt them. Leonora held out hope she could help the two older children and adopt them out into a household that would keep the three children together.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on this part? Creative and helpful criticism is welcome! See a typo on this first draft? Let me know