Shieling, by Erin O’Quinn (posted by permission)

 

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Shieling

He’d found a dolmen, its linteled roof now shingled with grass and moss, and he’d called it his own. Aye, a shieling, a place of refuge from winter’s raw wind. A place to bring his fractured spirit whenever the loneliness began to sink deeper into the creases of his face.

Squatting, he built a fire in the stone-ringed pit and listened to the harsh cries of his father, whose gruff breath stirred the flames, and he spoke to him.

“Father Wind, nae sate your hunger in the marrow of me bones.”

With a charred stick, he stirred the crying mouths of flame until they licked at the skin of his bare legs.

The heat was good. And he was very tired. Tomorrow perhaps the hunt would bring peace to his knotted belly.

His head drooped, then fell on his chest.

Outside the rude door, a footfall he never heard. The hunt had come to him.

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