The Child farmer

A sudden wail broke me out of my trance, the flat rock slipped from my hands and onto the floor with a loud plop. The searing heat radiating from the forge dissipated unbeknownst to me as I quickly jolted the child off of the ground. It was a girl. My only girl.

“You are Girl.” I brushed her stringy hair out of her face. My smile dropping as something seemed amiss. She cried and behaved like a normal baby but her eyes were blank, dark like a tunnel. It was as if she was never in there to begin with, just a hollow shell of a person. “Girl?” I pressed again but no response, so I placed her by the slow-dancing embers.

I fed her regularly ever since then, and even had another baby girl. Irene. Unlike Girl, Irene was all over the place, bouncing about with eyes full of life, curiously watching her distant family around her while in the distance, Girl would be by the fire. Her unkept locks hung over her face and body, slumped against ground.

I thought about letting her die. It’s not right to keep her like this after all. It’s not like I didn’t have another girl, so I didn’t have to keep her alive right? She’s grown enough. Even when I told myself these things, I kept a basket of carrots waiting by her body for feeding time.

I was busy with numerous jobs around the village; smithing, farming, cooking and I felt like Girl could see it all but maybe wasn’t able to act. The crowded bustling village eventually grew quiet, the only person I seen was my sister, a huntress and my older brother, a fellow farmer down in the swamp. There was no sign of Irene. There was no sign of the people I’ve grown up with.

The only thing keeping me alive was the thought that one day, one day… Girl would have children and I would have to be there to feed them. Food production was the most important thing in my life. I made whole stew kitchens, plentiful of pies and stew. My sister brought the rabbit from the northern lands, and my brother gave the carrots and I tended the berry bushes. Until…

Finally, a wail came from beside Girl’s body. A little boy, a worker. I snatched him away quickly as if he were my own, corrupted by the need to fill my loneliness and fed him before putting him to work.

I frantically ran to shove carrots down my daughter’s throat, eagerly waiting for the next delivery. This was the best thing ever.

This continued for many years, by the end, Girl had given me 7 children. 5 workers and 2 females. I watched her in my final moments, vaguely hearing my grandchildren’s ‘Thank yous and Goodbyes’

Her body was extremely slender, nearly skeletal. Her cheekbones were sunken in, her mouth hung slightly open as she laid there like a marionette. Her eyes seemed to track my movements, no longer deep as an abyss.

In my moment of passing, I couldn’t believe my ears.

“You’re terrible.”