Blood is thicker than water

'I leant into his side, smiling to myself when i felt his arm tighten around me'

14 year old Alicia lives in a small village in the 14th century. Trying to discover herself, and the true meaning of love, family and friendship. Along with her best friend Mary and the gorgeous Elias, she faces the horrors of the black death. Will she survive? Will she have anyone left?

'Please... please don't leave me, I don't want to be alone...'

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1. Chapter 1

A long day of working on the harvest left my hands sore and my back aching. My hand wrapped around my little brothers sweaty palm, mine engulfing his as we trudged through the fields and then the village on our way back home. Father and mother were still back in the meadows shifting the last of the oxen back to the field.

Pushing open the door I stepped into our tiny cottage (it was a mess, as usual) and went over to the straw beds. Lying down I shut my eyes, hoping to get some rest before father and mother returned home to get dinner ready.

******

“Alicia.” Ugh they were home already. “Alicia?” my mother called again. I struggled up from where I had been resting and walked out of the corner of beds into the kitchen area. “Oh there you are Alicia; I need you to go to the stream for water. Oh and take William with you!” she called after me as I grabbed the water pot. “C’mon William,” I called out, and he ran forward grabbing my hand. I loved him to bits but it’s such a pain dragging a six year old around. Mother says that since I’m 13 and 14 tomorrow that I need to take responsibility. Soon I will have my own family to look after, and taking care of William is good practice.


When I reached the stream just before the mill, I met Elias the miller’s son where he was setting eel traps. “I hope you have permission to set those, otherwise you could be fined more than they’re worth,” I warned him with a smile. I liked Elias; he had chestnut coloured hair, with a fringe that constantly fell into his dark eyes. “Don’t worry about me, my father got permission yesterday.” He answered with a smile and a wink before walking off into the night. I sighed as his retreating figure disappeared in the dark.

“C’mon ‘licia,” my brother tugged at my hand.
 “You need to fill the pot. Stop daydreaming!” I shook my hair out of my eyes and quickly filled the pot. Once it was brimming, I grabbed Williams hand again and started stumbling home. Once again I pushed open the door to our ramshackle cottage and stepped inside. By this time father had started a fire underneath the stand for the cooking pot, which I was now filling with water. I lifted the pot over the flames and waited for it to boil. When I finally saw bubbles I threw in some chopped carrot and turnip to make soup, and for once we had bread to go with it. I walked once more over to my bed and lay down to rest before dinner.

******


“Alicia! William! Dinners ready,” my mother called. I struggled out of bed pulling William up from where he had curled beside me, and walked to the hearth where mother was dishing out soup into wooden bowls. I sat down heavily on the hard earthen ground with a thump and snatched up one of the carved wooden spoons from the floor. Mother had finally finished dishing out the soup and there were tempting smells coming off of the bowl in my lap. Just as I was about to eat, father started the prayer “Dear Lord...” he began but I was lost in my own world. I knew praying was important but sometimes I could be a bit slack if I was really hungry. “Amen.” He finished finally. My stomach growled loudly and I quickly swallowed my first mouthful to silence it. My eyes watered as it burned my throat but I gulped down some water before continuing. Just a few short minutes later I was mopping up the last few drops of soup with a hunk of bread.

Swallowing my last mouthful I hurried over to my bed and pulled out a wad of paper. Mother gave this to me as an early birthday present this morning, along with two quills and a small pot of ink. She saved up for a year to buy me these from the travelling market. Father taught me to write last year and mother thought that I should put my skills to good use. Not many people can read and write. I was fortunate enough that father had gone to school as a boy. And even more fortunate that he remembered and taught me. Mother said I can use the paper for whatever I wanted; I had already made a hole in the corner of each piece and bound it to make a small diary. I dipped my pen in the ink and started to write...


My name is Alicia Marie Wood I’m 13 nearly 14 years old. I have long dark wavy hair and I live in Appletree village just north of London, or so father says anyway. I live with my mother, father and little brother William in a small cottage on the manor side of the village...

I stopped to think before drawing a line under what I had just written.


I saw Elias today... He was gorgeous, as usual... It’s my birthday tomorrow, although I think mother is more excited than me, I’ll be 14, the age... She can’t wait for me to receive my first gift of courtship. Not all villages have courtship, especially not for the villeins. Many girls are sent off into arranged marriage. But as we have heard of courtship from London travelers, we thought t was right to give people a choice in who they marry. this has been happening for 50 years now. Usually girls come of age around 12 but in our village the tradition is that the courting age is 14 for girls and 16 for boys. Elias is 16... He turned 16 last month. I hope he chooses to court me, there are a lot of rumors around the village that he has chosen someone but no one knows who. My friend Mary thinks it’s me, she says he has a certain smile when he’s around me. I don’t know what to think, I tell her I don’t believe it, but we both know I dream of it. I have liked Elias for a year now, I have known him forever but I never noticed him before. The way his eyes are such a dark brown they are almost black, but in summer they have flecks of gold in them. The way that he flicks his fringe out of his eyes, for it just to fall back into place. They way he smiles when he sees me as if I just brightened up his day. 
But I don’t think he will choose me, everyone knows that his father wants him to court Elizabeth, the foreman’s daughter, just like everyone knows how much she likes him. She is not his type but sometimes Elias can be unpredictable. I guess I wouldn’t be too upset if he didn’t choose me... Unless he chose Mary. Nothing against her, that’s just the point; she’s extremely beautiful and already has 3 boys waiting for her to come of age. But if she got Elias as well I would be devastated.
I’m getting nervous about who will try to court me. People have been saying that Big William has been thinking about it, but I hope he doesn’t. There’s only one person I would want... Elias


I yawned sleepily, the sun had just set and my hand ached from writing. Setting down my ink pot I blew gently on the pad of paper to dry it, before tucking it under my bed. Not long after that I drifted into sleep; we had to be up at dawn to start more work on the harvest.


 

******

 


Elias' Diary


I saw Alicia today... She was as beautiful as ever of course. It's her birthday tomorrow, she'll be 14... I need to get permission from her father to court her; I hope he says yes... I hope she says yes.
I have known Alicia forever but I just never noticed her until last year. It was summer and we were messing around in the stream to cool off, that's when I realised how truly beautiful she is. She had just sprayed water at Richard and was running away; her laugh was entrancing, her long dark hair flowing out behind her. Soon she will be a woman and she will have to tie back her hair...
I wonder if she knows I plan in choosing her, I don't think so. I only told one person, Big William, to tell him to stay away. Everyone in the village knows that I have chosen someone, there's no point keeping that a secret, but no one knows who. A few people have made guesses but only one person has been right; Alicia's friend Mary

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