Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Lonely Witness – New Fiction Witness by R. L. Saunders

The Lonely Witness - New Fiction Witness by R. L. SaundersShe told the magistrate she had been abused, taken advantage of, her reputation ruined.

Or had she?
The village law said that the benefit of the doubt lay with the most vulnerable. And so women were believed when they said some male had fondled or groped or acted in a threatening manner.
For Lyla, it had happened many times. All to her shame.
The men she accused were penalized and their own reputations marked.
Simply denying it was no defense. For in every accusation Lyla presented, there was no witness to say what had happened.
Most of these men stayed far away from Lyla after that. Many left the village.
All to Lyla’s benefit. Or was it?
The village started shrinking, people moving away. And few other villagers – male or female – would talk to her. Unless several other people were present.
She was being shunned for nothing she had done wrong. Or had she?

The Lonely Witness – New Fiction Witness by R. L. Saunders

Regardless of the magistrate’s decision, she felt – just perhaps – that something else was going on. Her head high, she walked the village street toward her small cabin on the village limits. She hadn’t wanted to shop, but even if she did, all the stores had their “closed” signs turned. Some just as she passed them. The day was young, so why were so many taking the afternoon off?

Lyla hoped she hadn’t missed hearing about a party or gathering. There had been a few of them recently that she had only accidentally found out about. And didn’t feel like walking in uninvited.

She had her weaving and her garden to occupy her time these days. And running her booth on Saturdays at the Market. These kept her more than busy.

In recent weeks, she had fewer visitors to her home to place special orders or to see what crops of hers were ready. She’d even quit hatching chickens as her eggs weren’t selling enough to pay for the rations they needed to lay high-quality eggs. Frankly, it would soon be cheaper to only keep what she needed for her own needs, and feed them off table scraps and old bread crusts.

Market day was becoming more sparse, even this fall. There were fewer booths, and many people were trading in other villages than locally. She now had two empty spaces on each side of her booth, where a couple of years ago, it was hard to even fit her booth into a space. Market day meant having the entire main street lined from one end of the village to the other. And the livestock auction was held beyond that.

But hard times had come. Many of the storefronts were now empty. Families had moved out. Single men had begun looking for jobs in other villages, not returning to their native-born origin once they had built up a nest-egg investment.

And the village didn’t seem as pleasant a place as it had been. She would often not talk to anyone for days.

But she was beginning to think something else was happening. She had noticed that conversations ceased just as she walked up. When she visited a store, the shopkeeper would be terse and speak in short answers. There were always someone else present, but just within earshot, not carrying on conversation.


At nights, she had her books to read. Her mind was occupied all the time. Some might call it lonely, but she called it solitude.

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