Today is the full moon, the October blood, sanguine, or Hunter’s moon. A Hunter’s moon you say? Why yes, and who would I be if I didn’t use the day for sharing something special from my current WIP, Striking Balance. This comes from deep within the story, and I’m not setting it up other than to say that Ben is somewhere he’d never thought he’d be and preparing for a hunt. (Hunting was also a necessary skill during the 18th century so…)
This is a rough piece, so expect a few bumps along the way. Oh, and we’re seeing things through Ben’s POV.
Afternoon, 2 October 1781
“Even pull. Watch your arm.” Dane presses against me as I pull back for another shot. We have experimented with what weapons best suit me in midair and have determined that my long rifle throws me into a dangerous tumble. A crossbow or pistols suit me best at short range, but a short bow, which I am now practicing with, suits me best for deer hunting. “Good.” She adjusts my arm and steps back. “When you’re ready.”
I am a quick shot, dead center on the target we have made from straw and tattered cloth, and I am so proud of myself I let a whoop, turning a happy circle. Dane joins in, catching me by the waist. “See?” She kisses my cheek before I spin away. “You only needed to find the right weapon.”
“I like this bow.” I run my hand along the upper limb to feel the carving. There are flowers, careful lines that do not alter the bow’s weight, but they are all but worn away where I place my hands to pull. This bow is well loved, and I am suspicious as to its last owner. “It feels right in my hands.”
“That’s good since I’m givin’ it to you.” She is smiling when I look up.
“No, I can’t accept—”
“It was Cent’s. She weren’t much taller than you, and there ain’t no one else I’ve found who can use it.” Dane places her hand over mine to squeeze it. “She’d want you to have it.”
“Thank you.” I hug the bow to me then turn to her, uncertain what more to say.
“We’ll go huntin’ tonight if the weather holds. “Tis a Hunter’s Moon after all.” She lifts my head to kiss me again, this time on the mouth. “You and me. Our first hunt together.” She threads two lengths of leather cordage through my belt using an iron ring, one length of cord reaching behind me to pull through the loop Cyrus sewed beneath the back of my shirt collar. “Now you know why I had him add it. Anyone wearin’ one can use a bow.” I reach up to feel the back of her shirt.
“I done showed you that I can, wildcat, but I don’t like to. I’d druther use my guns and my knives.” She tweaks my nose then pulls the other cord up to tie it to my bow’s rings, lashing it to me. “There.” She secures the quiver at my waist. “Let’s go.” She unfurls and takes to the air.
“Where are we going?” But I know well enough the moment I see her path.
There’s a rather larger Easter egg in that second to last paragraph if you’re a reader of the Appalachian Elementals series. Hint hint. And if you’ve been reading along with my Writing Wednesdays, there were a few surprises in the above, but that’s okay.