Black, Red, and White

Last week we learnt about our narrator’s impending arranged marriage…

It was late afternoon, and I stepped outside with Lebharcham to catch the last of the light. The sun sparkled off the snow as it swooped towards the horizon. However there was a ghastly sight off to the left. My foster father had just killed a calf for our dinner.

“Father, that’s disgusting!” I greeted him, clapping my hands over my eyes.

He started up, looking embarrassed, “Deirdre, I didn’t think you would be out yet. I thought you were studying with Lebharcham.”

“We just stepped out for a walk,” I informed him, carefully averting my eyes. Overhead, a couple of ravens flapped around on the slight breeze.

Lebharcham started to walk, but I lingered. The slow dance of the ravens caught my eye. Beautiful, mysterious things they were, gliding and pirouetting around each other.

“What is on you, Deirdre?” Lebharcham’s voice sounded in my ear.

“The ravens, Lebharcham. Aren’t they fascinating?”

All she did was sniff.

Then one of the ravens plummeted. So fast I thought he might hit the ground. My breath caught in my stomach.

But of course, he was fine. He landed right by the dead calf, where its blood pooled onto the gleaming white carpet of snow.

I stared at them – the snow, the blood, the raven. They made such a good picture, there in the afternoon sunlight. A compelling picture. The colours contrasted starkly before my eyes, one against the other. And in my mind, there was a flicker. A scrap of a picture, colours running through.

I scrabbled to clutch the colourful shadow and try to understand it, but it had vanished.

Something else came to me in those moments, though. A more human awareness. I glanced mischievously up at Lebharcham, who was waiting for me in some impatience. “I know one thing, dear tutor.”

“And that is?”

“I will never love a man unless he has those three colours, hair as black as the raven, cheeks as red as blood, and skin as white as snow.”