The Whispering World


The Whispering World

Joined: Sep 18 2012, 08:33 AM

Aug 9 2016, 06:13 PM #1

There was an effervescent, excited sort of energy emanating from Bently as he led Ren down a dank corridor. Holding her hand and guiding her, as she once had him, he pointed out a crack in the floor that he'd tripped on several times already. A sliver of grayish light was emanating from beneath a door at the end of the passageway, originating from a small old-fashioned lantern that was hanging on a rusty old stone sconce in the bunk room. "Sorry it's so dark in here." Bently said apologetically, fetching the lantern and holding it up to better illuminate the dingy little room.

Several rusty old cots lined the far wall of the stone-carved room. After breakfast Bently had been tasked with taking Ren down into the mine to show her where the group had been sleeping. Fox was with him, and the bedraggled lynx wasted no time in locating one of the beds, which had been arranged and fixed very neatly (no doubt Auricula's), and leaping up onto it. The lanky cat flopped onto his side, sinking into the bedding with a contented sigh. "We managed to pack almost everything-" Bently explained, hustling over to his own cot and pulling off the patched old quilt that had once been Lucy Black's before it had ultimately adorned Rowan and Ren's own bed at Crooked Lake. Gathering up several other blankets and pillows, Bently began hastily arranging them on one of the empty cots. Rounding back on Ren, he beckoned her to sit down, reaching to take the silver-furred shawl off her shoulders for her.

Holding the shawl in one hand, Bently set the lantern on a rickety little bedside table. He paused. "You ok, Ren?" Something seemed different about her, somehow.
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Joined: Jun 10 2012, 08:23 PM

Aug 22 2016, 03:39 AM #2

Under any other circumstance, all the nooks and crannies of the mine would have been fascinating to the ever-curious Ren. She would have been itching to explore. But in her current state, she could do little more than go where she was asked to go and perform the most mindless, repetitive motions available to her: eating, breathing, nodding in agreement. She kept drifting off during breakfast, dreaming the blue arms of the pines in her bowl, dreaming little brown-green rivers on her plate, dreaming lost-in-the-woods while the others hummed and chattered around her like so many birds. When she had eaten her fill for the first time in what seemed like weeks, Bently offered to show her to the bunks. The boy held her hand securely as if he were young again, or perhaps as if she were young again, as he led her down a rocky little hallway. It wasn't dank, exactly...just a little moist, a little underground-smelling. At the end of the passage, a lantern cast its smoky light across several decaying cots, their rusty frames staining the floor red, spread with familiar pillows and blankets. Ren's heart swam happily at the sight of the battered blue quilt that she and Rowan had been sleeping under ever since their relationship had begun; a lot of blood had been spilt and love had been made on that quilt, so much so that it almost had a life of its own.

"Thank you," she yawned as Bently took her fur from her and helped her to the bed that he had made up for her. She sank down onto it as if it were a king-sized mattress spread with silk and feather-down, sighing gratefully. Ren was more than ready to surrender herself to one or two days of nothing but sleep, but Bently hesitated on his way out of the room, pausing with his hand still on the lantern. "You ok, Ren?" He had obviously noticed some difference in her, whether it was her appearance, her demeanor, or something less tangible; a smell, a tint of the skin, an instinctive surge of hormones... Ren hadn't intended to tell any of her friends immediately--not until they had settled in, not until they had formed a plan--but her inhibitions had loosened with time and trial. She had entered the third month of her pregnancy with no incident, with no pain and no sickness and no scares, and every day her risk of losing her child was drastically reduced. If the baby could survive the undernourishment of their hellish trek to the mine shaft in the first tenuous, jelly-like months of its life, it was strong enough to be carried to term. Besides that, she wanted Bently of all people to know. He had been instrumental in giving her the courage to go through with this momentous thing.

"I'm okay," she murmured with a small smile. She patted the cot beside her. "Come sit. I have something to tell you, but you can't tell anyone else just yet." Once he had seated himself, she took a deep breath."I'm going to have a baby." Ren found Bently's hand and squeezed it, her tired eyes crinkling with excitement. She gave this news a moment to sink in before she beckoned him even closer. "I don't carry it nearly as well as Auri did. I'm already getting fat--here." She placed his increasingly mannish hand on her abdomen, over the dirty patterned cotton of her shirt. Her pants were beginning to be extremely difficult to button and she was glad that she had so many dresses that could be expanded and expanded again. "Do you feel?"
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Joined: Sep 18 2012, 08:33 AM

Sep 2 2016, 04:29 PM #3

Bently studied Ren's face in the flickering lantern-light carefully. She certainly did look... different somehow... But was it just her absence that made it seem so? No, it couldn't be. Through the lines of exhaustion he sensed a new sort of vitality, replacing the melancholy she had once harbored. The little smile that lit up her face was honest and not forced. Ren asked him to sit for she had a secret to tell him. Bently blinked, caught a little by surprise. Then he nodded solemnly and quickly folded the shawl, placing it on a neighboring cot before moving over to sit beside Ren. The rusty old springs gave a groaning creak of protest, descending several inches with Bently's added weight. He settled in next to her noticing how she smelled of horses and timber. The boy didn't speak but looked at Ren imploringly, as if he could already sense the importance of her revelation.

A short but tense silence followed, until Bently heard Ren take a breath and say, "I'm going to have a baby." Bently was instantly taken back to that warm fall day at Crooked Lake, when he, Ren, and their animals had set out in the canoe to gather rice. That had been the day Ren had confessed her fears and desires; that she and Rowan might have a child of their own someday. Bently had supported her then, as he did now and always had. His heart gave an excited leap when Ren took his hand and an excited grin spread over his face. "R-really?" Bently spurted clumsily, at a loss for words.

Ren pulled him closer, drawing his hand to her belly. Bently leaned in, allowing her to guide him, just as she had when he was younger and without sight. He carefully cupped his hand to her belly and closed his eyes, feeling how her abdomen sloped ever-so-gently outwards. There was a hint of roundness where there had once been the sunken appearance of one who was starved. He opened his eyes, nodding. "Yeah! I can feel!" He exclaimed excitedly, then caught himself and lowered his voice back to an enthusiastic hush. "That's great news, Ren. But-" he paused, contemplating her words. She didn't want him to tell the others, and Bently would honor that promise. However... "but Rowan knows, right?" He asked dumbly.
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Joined: Jun 10 2012, 08:23 PM

Sep 13 2016, 06:26 AM #4

Music for the Law and Order SVU episode that is Ren's life.
Ren giggled at Bently's naive enthusiasm, his anxious questions. His big, blue eyes were still a child's eyes even if his jaw was square, even if his cheeks were wind-chapped and rough, even if there were a few oily hairs sprouting on his upper lip just like he had wanted, just like he had been waiting for. Of course Rowan knew. He hadn't even needed to ask. Her tightly wrapped bundle of menstrual rags, still pristine after three months in the forest, had not escaped his keen eye. He knew her body better than anyone did, and when it had begun to change, he had noticed immediately. He had charted her small, triumphant transformations almost more fastidiously than Ren herself had. She couldn't have hidden it from her husband if she had tried.

"Of course he knows, and he's very happy. I just want to tell the others myself, especially Auri." Ren was hoping to bond with the woman over their new shared experience and perhaps gather some advice from her. Their relationship needed mending and this was the perfect opportunity to put something common between them, a buffer, a goal. "You know what's funny? The baby is still smaller than my hand right now." Ren spread her long-fingered hand and held it out in front of them to illustrate her point. "But I feel like I know her already. She is going to be so wanted in this world." Ren had never felt wanted. She had felt like a mistake her whole life, an extra, the burden-child, the dud in a nest of diamonds.

"I'm sorry we left you, Benny," she said, the words tumbling over themselves, rushing as if purging something unpleasant from her system before it sunk in too deeply. "I'm sorry that you needed us and we weren't there. A lot of ugly things happened all at once...it was hard to know what the right decision was..." She paused, reflecting bitterly, before she asked the question that weighed heavily on her mind. "Where are Archie and Denton? Are they...out?" When Ren closed her eyes, she could still feel herself pinned between the wall and Denton, the sick heat of his body, his hand working its way under her dress button by button like an ungainly spider, the heavy sound of her skull striking the house, her skin splitting like paper.

Trauma was complex. It was double-blind. Ren had started young, sixteen, being groomed for life-long physical and sexual abuse not only by an abuser, but by her elders, her peers, her parents, her community. She had been systematically exploited in a way that had been hard to see until she had left it behind, doomed to an adulthood of cyclic depression, crippling, self-destructive body dysmorphia, and relationships that dipped constantly into codependency. Ren was the perfect victim; shy, self-loathing, reluctant to speak up in her own defense, an emotional dependent with no healthy boundaries to speak of. Sexual consent was a murky concept at best. She knew what she wanted and what she didn't want; she knew that she wanted to be able to say no, that she wanted to be in control of her body, but at the same time, fair was fair. She believed in monogamy. Whichever man she belonged to was the only one who could touch her, and her no only meant so much, even to Rowan. He was stronger than her, and he had already proven that if he wanted her, there was little she could do to stop him. Ren did not dwell on these things. She had given both Cedar and Rowan unspoken permission to hurt her whenever they found it necessary, but Denton was different. Being sexually abused by people she trusted intimately was old-hat to her, but being violently and suddenly accosted felt almost worse. Nothing felt safe. She felt jumpy despite her bravado. She felt vicious, protective of her child, protective of herself. If Rowan didn't kill Denton, Ren felt as if she could kill him herself: an unwitting scapegoat.
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Joined: Sep 18 2012, 08:33 AM

Oct 22 2016, 03:38 AM #5

Bently's hand lingered there on Ren's belly, rising and falling gently with each breath she took. His own heart was hammering in his chest, a jumbled mixture of excitement and emotion driving his pulse to beat faster. He only pulled away when Ren held out her hand, demonstrating just how tiny was the little life she carried inside her. Bently's bright eyes watched stared, awe-struck. "It's a girl?" He breathed, "how do you know?" He thought it fitting that Ren and Rowan should have a daughter. She would beautiful and kind- like Ren- free spirited and strong - like Rowan. Bently was so glad for them.

And suddenly, Ren was apologizing. Guilt-ridden and apologetic, she tried to explain. Bently took her outstretched hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. "It's ok, Ren, really." Bently said. "All that matters is that we're back together again." He harbored no resentment towards Rowan and Ren for leaving as they did. He had only resented the circumstances that he forced them away, and the hardships they had faced. But they'd all come through stronger for it. There was no use in dwelling upon the past.

Bently's expression hardened at the mention of Denton. His brow furrowed, and a stern frown appeared on his boyish face. "Denton is gone." He said, not bothering to mask the contempt in his voice. "When Auri found out what he'd done to you, she was so mad. Her and Archie made him pack up his stuff and leave. They sent him to District 13..." Bently explained the sequence of events, and how it had eventually forced them to abandon their camp at Crooked Lake to come here to hopefully await Ren and Rowan's return. "He was always such a creep." Bently added, resisting the urge to turn and spit (a habit he'd have learned from the uncultured handyman).
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Joined: Jun 10 2012, 08:23 PM

Nov 16 2016, 12:18 PM #6

"I just know," Ren replied coyly. "Woman's intuition." She tapped her temple and wiggled her eyebrows mysteriously. "Didn't your mother ever tell you? Women have six senses." She wasn't eager to volunteer her grandmother's folksy wisdom about conception--the woman who gets hers first will in turn bear a daughter--and she couldn't explain the feeling in any other way, the knowledge that had come from her body itself.

"Denton is gone. When Auri found out what he'd done to you, she was so mad." At this, Ren felt a bloom of affection for Auricula, and the renewed chime of solidarity. For a long, long time, they had been the only two women in an ever-changing, ever-growing and shrinking band of wild men, and that meant that they had to be defensive of one another. Auricula had always been the stronger one; she tamed men like ringmasters tamed lions. Giles had been hers, dangerous Gabe had been hers, Hugh had respected her, Archie bowed to her will, and Rowan went to her for counsel. Ren counted on her in some ways, but she had been there for Auri when she had first become a mother with a different sort of strength; softer, quieter, determined mother-strength. She was glad that the bond of sisterhood hadn't been degraded to the point of uselessness, now when she needed it most.

She listened to the complete story of the flight from Crooked Lake with her mouth twisted in revulsion. After all they had done for Denton, after all that he had done, he would turn them over so quickly...Ren felt something inside of her spoil. She had always been quick to extend her loyalty and trust, and her faith had never been broken before, not even by Gabriel, who had been so belligerent. Suspicion took up a place it had never occupied before. The next time they met someone in the wild, she would be less willing to give them her hand lest they snap her wrist in their grip. "He was always such a creep," Bently sneered, and Ren smiled wryly.

"He was, wasn't he? He really thought he was going to convince me to fall in love with him. Can you imagine? I'm glad he's gone. I wouldn't have wanted him around my baby. All the same...I'm sorry everyone had to go through this just for my sake." It nagged at her faintly; if she had stood up for herself, if she hadn't made such a scene, if she had convinced Rowan to stay at camp...maybe they would have had more time to pack and plan...maybe they wouldn't be in such danger now...if she had only let Rowan kill Denton like he had wanted to do. "I know I've put you all through some terrible things, and don't you try to deny it. Auri and I almost stopped being friends. Rowan almost gave up on being married to me. You know better than anyone." Ren knew that Bently remembered the day that he had walked in on her just before she had ended it all, but they had never mentioned it before, not in so many words. She recaptured his hand, and this time hers squeezed his. "You saved my life when all I wanted to do was give up and let myself die. Things are going to be different now. I promise."
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