Uncertain Fortunes

The streets of Edenton were quiet and still. Only the gentle patter of rain on cobblestone and tin roof interrupted the quiet of the night. Even the rats had holed up for the storm, so their tiny paws were silenced in the darkness. One person moved through the streets, weaving on her feet. Her belly bulged with a life she had yet to birth. Hair hung limp around her face in dirty clumps. Once upon a time she'd been a pretty girl, but that had been ages ago. Now, as she crumbled to her knees already raw from the many times she had collapsed before, no one would recognize her. Indeed, as she lay in the street, unable to find the strength to carry on, no one even looked out to see her soaked in the rain and soiled by mud and the first hint of birthing fluid.

No one came to her aid, but she never uttered a cry for help. It wasn't until the babe began to scream that an old woman, a baker glanced out the window drawn by the familiar sound of a child's cry. She rushed out into the fury of the darkening night, to find the child alive- its mother dead. Her eyes shone a strange milky white, as if she had been dead for weeks rather than mere moments. The baker cuddled the newborn to her chest, and pulled hard at the umbilical cord like a long chain of sausage. The cord snapped and jerked around in the wind. The baker turned to take the baby inside, leaving the rotting corpse behind.

If she had turned and run back inside as her instincts were all screaming for her to do, this would have been just another sad story of a poor orphan and his strange departed mother. But, the baker did turn back, and in a flash of lightening, she saw a glittering ring on the bone thin finger of the mother-corpse. Times had been awfully hard, and she was no fool. A gold ring could fetch enough food to feed the squirming little piglet in her arms until he was strong enough to be useful. She tugged at the ring, and with her two new treasures, she rushed back inside and slammed the door.

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