tagChain StoriesF6: Bliss

F6: Bliss


This story is a submission to the sixth Friendly Anonymous Writing Challenge (FAWC) and a tribute to the founder of FAWC, slyc_willie, who we lost unexpectedly in October 2015. The true author of this story is kept anonymous until the end of the competition. Authors base their story on a list of four items. Their choices included the following letters: S L Y C. Each item was used in the story. There are no prizes given in this challenge; this is simply a friendly competition.

The list for this story includes: Yarn, Yearn, Yodeller, Yacht

* * * *

Lisbeth carefully tucked the precious pages she had secretly scavenged from the bottom of a crate of supplies back into the hollow of her bed frame and twisted the plain knob back into place. Sighing she pulled on the heavy tunic required for the assemblies and walked from the small cell that had served as her room. She had called it her cell since her coming of age and the move from her home to the girls dormitories.

Aside of the assemblies any interaction between the young men and women of the commune was strictly supervised and scrutinised until a match was made and agreed upon by the council and a marriage ceremony conducted. She had been content once to accept her fate and had giggled with the other girls as the boys grew to manhood and began showing off their strength and skills within the commune hoping to win their favour. A girl could let her parents know her preferences, but she had seen over time that it mattered very little in the pairing decisions. Lisbeth knew her fate if she stayed here, and fates name was Gabriel Blackman.

As she walked slowly across the common ground between the dormitory and the assembly hall, Lisbeth could feel the hair on the back of her neck prickled with the sensation of being watched. She steeled herself against looking back. To look back would be to encourage the gaze and she had no desire to encourage Gabriel Blackman. She had other plans for her life, and though fate all but strangled her here, she hoped that the choir mistress would provide her with the opportunity she needed to escape a life as wife to Gabriel Blackman.

Lisbeth entered the building and pulled the door closed behind her. Still she didn't turn to see who followed her but instead walked swiftly to the choir circle and took her place amongst those gathered there. She took the hand of her best friend and squeezed it showing a small smile her glittering eyes the hint of excitement at the news the choir mistress had hinted she had for them today.

"Now that everyone is here I can introduce you to our special guest. This," she indicated an austere man standing beside her dressed in black, "Is Pastor Phillip from our sister Assembly in Miles."

"I have heard great things about this little choir, and I am looking forward to your performance tonight," he smiled warmly at the group. "Just as you must practice your songs of praise so I must practice my sermon. I look forward to talking with you all intimately at the supper this evening."

"He's on old letch," Abigail whispered to Lisbeth. "He gives me the creeps." She pulled a face and turned back to the choir mistress who had begun speaking again.

"You don't have to marry him," Lisbeth retorted in the same hushed tone. "He is just the ticket out of the gates what we do after that is up to us." Lisbeth sang her heartfelt praise to the light for bringing Pastor Phillip for the following hour of choir practise.

Leaving the choir practise, she knew who would be waiting. She dreaded it, and she lingered with the choir mistress and Abigail as long as she could to discuss the possibility of travelling with Pastor Phillip to perform at his Assembly.

It wasn't that there was anything wrong with Gabriel. In fact, it was quite the opposite. He was a good and kind man who lived by the laws of their commune with exactitude and would make some girl a wonderful husband. He was skilled with the hammer and saw as well as being intelligent. If she was honest with herself, as she was sometimes late on hot nights, he was a very good looking man too. It was just that he was so boring. There was no surprise about him, nothing unexpected to make her stop and take a second look. He was a good solid, steady man that any sane girl would want chasing her. Lisbeth though was insane in her friends eyes and she knew it.

She was insane according to the commune's council and the beliefs they extolled. She wanted to go out and experience the world outside their fences. She wanted to see for herself the ladies wearing the short skirts and pretty undergarments shown in her carefully guarded contraband pages. She wanted to hear other people's music and not just the carefully chosen list of the choir mistress, but the heavy bass beats she had heard on her two trips to town when cars full of young people her age had driven by where she had stood. She wanted to eat the bad foods and drink the fiery drinks. She wanted to taste life and all that came with it.

She wasn't the one for Gabriel. He needed a nice quiet woman who would cook for him and clean his house and give him big bonny babies to play with and teach his trade. That was not the life she wanted, not right now anyway. She wasn't sure if she would ever want that life.

Taking a deep breath, she left the choir mistress and walked to the door. She let go of Abigail's hand lest anyone see them having physical contact without supervision and opened the door. The had walked no more than five steps when Gabriel stepped forward with his older, now married brother Elwin. Lisbeth grimaced inwardly, but she stopped to smile and greet the two men.

"Hello, are you coming to the assembly tonight?" Lisbeth asked as they stood close enough to halt the girl's progress across the common.

"We've learned a new song and Lisbeth has the solo part," Abigail gushed overwhelmed by having two of the Blackman men show interest in what they were doing.

"Well then I will be happy to be there," Gabriel said in his low, quiet voice. "I like the way you sing, Lisbeth." He gave a gentle smile and tilted his head. "I was wondering if you would join our table for supper tonight," He asked still looking at Lisbeth.

"We'd love to!" Abigail exclaimed not wanting to be left out of the invitation.

"I will save a seat for you both then. I am looking forward to it. I hear there may be dancing in honour of the visiting pastor. Do you like to dance?" Gabriel spoke to both girls though his eyes remained on Lisbeth.

"Ooh doesn't that sound wonderful?" Abigail forgot herself and gripped Lisbeth's arm shaking her in excitement.

"It does," she agreed disentangling herself from her friend and smoothing out the shapeless tunic she wore.

"I will look forward to the assembly if only to hear you sing," The small gentle smile spread once again across Gabriels face as he locked eyes with Lisbeth.

"Can we walk you ladies back to the dormitory?" Elwin suggested as the awkward moment passed between Gabriel and Lisbeth.

"Of course, that would be lovely of you," Lisbeth spoke with forced cheer and turned towards the cell she called home now letting Gabriel fall into step beside her.

"Will you dance with me tonight Lisbeth?" Gabriel said in a rush of low words. "It just that I would like to... it just that it's time to make some decisions and..."

"Poor Gabriel," Lisbeth stopped and turned to him. Standing in the middle of the common, she reached out and stroked his cheek softly, "There is no need to be tongue tied with me. We have known each other since we were but babes." She knew full well that this was scandalous behaviour, but she wanted to shock him into some sort of reaction. His cheek nestled into her palm momentarily and breathed deeply before dutifully stepping back to preserve her reputation.

"Lisbeth you know the rules, you mustn't degrade yourself like that," he motioned that she should continue to walk with him and turned back in the direction of the dormitory. "I am grateful, though, for you have eased my worries." His smile was wider this time as he looked at her and his eyes shone with the promise her touch had given him.

Lisbeth cursed herself. She should have thought about that more before touching him like that. Far too often she was far too impulsive and did not look beyond her immediate action to what the consequences would be. She knew she had given hope to a good and kind young man that she had no intention of marrying.

* * * *

Lisbeth and Abigail talked excitedly as they entered the supper following the assembly that evening. Pastor Phillip had invited three of the young women to visit his assembly hall in two weeks' time for the celebration feast of their patron. While the arrangement wasn't set in stone, the choir mistress had intimated that permission from the council would be no more than a formality.

"Freedom," Lisbeth breathed excitedly into Abagail's ear. "It is so close I can almost taste it. Nothing can ruin my mood tonight!"

"Just don't do anything silly that they can punish you for," Abigail warned. "You know they will look for any reason to keep us from leaving the commune even for something like this."

"I will be good I promise," Lisbeth murmured unable to stop smiling even to greet the men of the high council. The girls hurried through the room to the Blackman family table and took the seats offered by Gabriel. She looked around for her parents and spied them as they always were at the family table she used to sit at, her chair now taken by the wife of her brother. It was a commune law that girls were to cease living with their parents at their coming of age and move to the dormitory where their virtue could be kept safe until a suitable husband was found for them. Some girls never left that house, and weeping could be heard some nights. Lisbeth knew that to spurn any offer of marriage was to condemn herself to a life of servitude to the high council. There were few choices for a free-spirited girl here in this place, and she knew she had to get out.

"Thank you for joining our family this evening," the older voice of Francis Blackman said in similarly gentle tones to that of his sons. "Lisbeth," he nodded in her direction, "and Abigail. You both have voices to rival the birdsong. It was a joy to her you this evening lifting your sweet voices in praise of the light."

"Thank you for your generosity in offering us a seat at your table, we are honoured to be counted amongst such respected men and women as you have within your home," Lisbeth said smoothly to Abagail's nodding affirmation of what she said.

"Be welcome, eat and speak freely you are amongst family here," Frances intoned in the formal way of inviting the girls to relax and join in the table conversation freely.

For once Lisbeth let the conversation wash over her saying very little. She sat demurely looking down at her food in a conscious effort to curb her impulsivity and lessen the risk of any punishment that could jeopardise her visit to Pastor Phillip's assembly and her one chance at escape.

"You're very quiet tonight, Lisbeth," Gabriel said from beside her.

"I am sorry Gabriel I was just thinking about something that happened after choir. Perhaps they will announce it tonight," She explained.

"What?" Gabriel exclaimed. "Has somebody made you an offer?" A range of emotions quickly flitted over his face. She couldn't tell if he was sad or mad about that prospect.

""Oh no, nothing like that," she quickly reassured him and forgetting herself quickly reached out to cover his hand with hers in a comforting way. Gabriel looked down at her hand but didn't seek to move his marvelling in how small and soft it was in comparison. It took Gabriel's father to clear his throat loudly before the innocent touch ended and they withdrew their hands to their laps.

"It would seem it is time for you two to approach the council and make your intentions known before any more unseemly incursions occur in public." Frances lectured the young people at the table. While Gabriel blushed deeply at having been reprimanded by his father Lisbeth gasped audibly and her eyes went wide in shock.

The one thing she had been determined not to do had occurred, and now there was nothing she could do to take it back. All those times she had flirted with danger, impulsively touching his arm or hand as they walked between the assembly and her cell, it hadn't even entered her head that she was doing anything wrong when she had sought to reassure him that no other had made her offer. She wasn't even sure now why she had done that. She certainly had no intention of marrying him she reminded herself.

With the pink flush of a guilty person, Lisbeth lowered her eyes and realised she had trapped herself. She had touched him not only in public but in front of his father. There had to be a way around this. "Think Lisbeth, Think!" she screamed inwardly at herself.

"Excuse me, Master Blackman," it was Abigail who spoke making Lisbeth raise her head again curiously. "It's just that Pastor Phillip has offered to take the some of choir to perform a small concert at our sister Assembly in Miles. Perhaps it would be prudent to wait for our return from this engagement. It would be cruel to part newlyweds so soon even just for a few days."

"When would this visit to our sister assembly be occurring," Frances did not question the veracity of the story only it's timeline.

"Pastor Phillip will return to his parish in ten days, and the choir mistress will accompany him with the chosen singers," Abigail informed him. Lisbeth marvelled at her cool-headed friend trying to avert the awful situation she had created. As she watched her friend though she realised in a sudden flash of clarity that it was not her that she was trying to save from marriage but Gabriel. It hadn't even occurred to Lisbeth that Abigail would wish to be wed to Gabriel though she should have guessed. They had both talked about him constantly and while Abigail always agreed with the reasons why Lisbeth shouldn't marry Gabriel she had only ever praised him for his skill and beauty.

Suddenly Lisbeth became inexplicably jealous. She certainly didn't want to marry Gabriel only to break his heart when she left, but she felt like her friend had duped her and she didn't want her to have him either. She felt like she was caught between a rock and a hard place when Frances spoke again.

"There is no reason we couldn't spare Gabriel from his work for a few days to accompany the choir mistress and her flock. It would seem a much safer course of action to me," he nodded to his son who had gone from a look of disappointment to one of sheer joy in moments.

If she had to pick the thing she liked most about Gabriel, it would be his expressive face. She could always tell what he was feeling, and she smiled warmly at him totally confused as to what to do. She had one burning question, though.

"Gabriel," she said looking up at him through her long lashes. "I love to sing more than anything. As my husband, you wouldn't stop me from accompanying Pastor Phillip and the choir mistress would you?"

"My father has taught me well that to have a happy wife is to have a happy life," his gentle bass said softly, and his eyes showed his pleasure at her use of the titles, husband and wife.

"Your wife was a very lucky woman," Lisbeth said to Frances, "To have such a good and kind husband."

"It was me that was the lucky one," Frances corrected her. "She was the other half of my soul, and it was left torn and tattered when she left this world." His children all bowed their heads in remembrance of their mother. "Seeing young love bloom around me helps my soul to heal and I will welcome you to our family with open arms.

She felt Abigail tense beside her. This had somehow all gotten out of hand. She needed her friend to be on her side, to come with her when she ran away. Yet, here they were talking about weddings and bristling with jealousy over Gabriel Blackman. She said nothing and willed her friend to remain silent and keep her secrets.

"Excuse me again, Master Blackman, "but we rushed here from the small meeting after the assembly, and I feel I must use the washrooms, may Lisbeth and I be excused for a few moments, please." Once again Abigail had come to her rescue and saved from saying anything further in response to his offer to welcome her into the family, she stood and moved away from the table with Abigail.

"What on earth is wrong with you? Have you forgotten all those plans we have been making for the last year that we have been in the dormitories?" Abigail sounded furious with her.

"No, but what was I supposed to do? We don't have much choice. You know what happens to girls who turn down offers, besides once I run away I will be excommunicated and he will be free to marry again if you are so interested in who he marries. Were you hoping it would be you?" Lisbeth asked with more acid in her voice than she intended.

"Oh you can't be serious," Abigail said aghast. "We had plans. We had dreams. You were the one who didn't want to be stuck here barefoot and pregnant!"

"Shush," Lisbeth cautioned her. "If anyone finds out we will both be punished and left in the dormitory to serve the council for the rest of our days. Don't you dare think I will face that punishment alone and then who would marry Gabriel, that whiney voiced Selena Goodman?"

""No!" Abigail hissed, "He wouldn't, he couldn't!" Lisbeth nodded happily at the reaction and dawning light going on inside Abigail's head.

"Thank you, though, you saved me more than once from committing myself to that fate tonight," she squeezed her friend's hand, and they went back out to the dining hall and their supper companions.

It had all spiralled out of control from the moment they left the bathrooms. Frances had approached the high council to announce his sons offer, and Gabriel had formally presented her with a promise ring. It was at that point that that there were several objections to the union surprising both the young people involved and the high council.

Pastor Phillip objected on the grounds of the impending concert and Lisbeth's gift being squandered here in this small commune where it couldn't be heard by all of the followers of the way of the light. Daniel Bowerman objected in that he had not been able to get close enough to even talk with Lisbeth because of Gabriels's selfish ways and that he too should be given the opportunity to make an offer. Several young women openly cried at the loss of such a bachelor, but Abigail had stayed silent.

Frances and Gabriel skilfully deflected all objections and pressed forward with their offer. Having no real choice, Lisbeth accepted the promise ring from Gabriel and stood by his side as their friends and family came to greet them.

"Thank goodness," her father said relief evident in his voice. "Your mother has been inconsolable since you were taken to the dormitory now she will be able to visit you in your own home." Lisbeth had been surprised by the words and the crushing embrace he had wrapped her in. It was odd that it hadn't occurred to her that her parents may not like all of the council's rules. For her, it was just part of life here and assumed that the parents of girls were glad to be rid of the burden of their care. Her mother only cried but held her in a gentle hug softly rocking her and saying nothing, in the same way, she had when she had left home.

* * * *

The council was swift in its deliberations and the next day she was delivered to the women of the commune to be prepared for her wedding night. The women laughed loudly as they told tales of their wedding nights and described the beastly weapon that hung between their husbands legs. She was told that the secret of a happy marriage was to milk the beast at least once a day.

Report Story

byxelliebabex© 11 comments/ 11339 views/ 12 favorites

Share the love

Report a Bug

6 Pages:123

Forgot your password?

Please wait

Change picture

Your current user avatar, all sizes:

Default size User Picture  Medium size User Picture  Small size User Picture  Tiny size User Picture

You have a new user avatar waiting for moderation.

Select new user avatar: