DELILA DEWSBERRY LIVED a simple life. It didn’t mean that it was an unhappy life, but it wasn’t a particularly fulfilling one either. As was the custom of the time, Delila had been married before she could slip too far into her teens and be too old for the task, which left her with years of experience in darning, butter churning, and child rearing. Although, these skills didn’t give her the satisfaction she had dreamed her life would provide.
Her husband, Thomas, was a reputable man with a well-producing farm and a rotund midsection. Her parents had made the deal with little consideration for her opinion on the matter, but here she was living the life she’d been dealt by Fate, or God, or God-forbid the Goddess.
Delila didn’t dare think the word Goddess too often, and she never uttered it aloud. In superstitious times like these, the mere mention of a being other than God would get you stoned, or worse, burned at the stake; and knowing her husband the way she did, Delila knew he would be the first to light the pylon. So Delila kept her beliefs, and her gifts, to herself. Not even Thomas, who slept beside her every night, would guess there was more to her simple life. On solstice nights, she snuck from her bed to perform the spells that kept the land fertile and the livestock well fed. Without her gifts, the farm would have turned into a worthless plot of land long ago.
Soon it would be time to celebrate the date of their betrothal. If Delila had her way, she’d be with child again soon. It did not matter how often she begged for Thomas to take advantage of his marital rites in the last three years, he always balked at the idea. Which is why she had taken to be-spelling him on their anniversary so that she could have one night of passion. Besides, if there was ever a time her husband should want her, she believed the anniversary of their betrothal was it. The need was worth the risk of being discovered a witch.
Their one night of passion was worth the risk of the stockade to combat Delila’s loneliness that spanned the other three hundred sixty four nights of the year. It hadn’t always taken such lengths to get her husband to notice her, but after stumbling upon Thomas and a farm hand in a passionate embrace, it had become routine for him to turn her away night after night. The allure his lover offered to Thomas had become a constant and growing source of discontent in Delila’s life. On more nights that not, she yearned for something more; something greater than her current predicament could offer. Fortunately for her, and Thomas as well she supposed, she developed a new tincture that she believed would finally not only make him amorous, but also produce a child. If all went according to her plan, not only would a child breathe new life into her marriage, but also send Thomas’s lover back to wherever he had come from with the outward proof of Thomas and Delila’s coupling.
Delila added an extra pinch of powdered oyster to the tincture she ground together and smiled. She had often asked Thomas to convert the extra room out in the barn into a place where she could play with the tools of her father’s trade, shaping ordinary things into wearable art, but he always scoffed. To Thomas, a woman’s place was in the home caring for her children, not out in some barn whittling hours away on something that men did. So, while he worked, she stole away to the barn and did as she pleased in a makeshift workshop, hopeful that he would never learn of her deception.
With the exception of his infidelity, Thomas was very devout in his beliefs. Beliefs that raised their sons to be God-fearing men and their daughters to be man-serving wives.
Fifteen years into their sham of a marriage, Delila was tired of being a mother to babies, but babies were the only reason Thomas would take her to his side of their marital bed and make her feel whole. The kind of whole she dreamed of being; feminine, purposeful, powerful. To have that she would do what society dictated as conventional. She’d have children and look after a man who loved another; until the man of her dreams came for her, and come for her he would. At least, she hoped he would. This late in her life she often wondered if the mystery man who had wandered through her dreams since childhood, beckoning her to join him, was nothing more than a dream. A dream that promised love, laughter, and excitement. It was those visions that drove her forward, closer to him.
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