Myl stood in the chicken run, throwing handfuls of seed to the greedy hens. She threw the grain like stones, as if it would keep them back, not bring them to her.
Eat and eat, she thought. Then you'll be eaten.
She saw her brother's dusty fair hair over the fence, and her hand went to the kerchief that covered her own shorn head. Tyl leant against the post, waiting for her to be done. She flapped her empty apron at the chickens to show them, then caught the fence rail, hooked bare toes over a slat, and swung herself to the other side.
The bruise on Tyl's face had faded to yellow, but he held himself stiff with yesterday's stripes, where the head groom--his master on the morrow--had laid a stick across his fishbone back. He's a child, she raged, to be switched or slapped, not beaten like a full-grown stable-lad.
If this your mother knew, Her heart would break in two.
The rhyme buzzed in her head until she wanted to shake it loose. She caught hold of Tyl's threadbare shirt and dragged him around the corner of the capon cote, where they couldn't be seen.
"You need to leave," she hissed to Tyl as she pulled him against the rough wood of the cote. "You need to leave right now."
"Ow!" He jerked out of her grasp and gingerly touched the fading bruise on his cheek. His thin face twisted in confusion. "What do you mean?"
Myl waved her hand, her gesture encompassing the farmyard, the dust, the manor. "Have you noticed how everything here is really, really terrible?"
"Yeah." The word was half-laugh, half-sigh.
"But I never seem to leave or fight back or do anything about it?"
"Yeah." Now Tyl's voice was accusatory.
She grabbed the front of her brother's shirt and pulled his face close to hers. "This doesn't feel like one of those literary novels where everyone is depressed for three hundred pages. I think the author's going to give me a kick in the pants to set me on a path of vengeance. Probably by killing you off." Myl released him with a push. "I'm sure somebody will be starting another Dune novel in about five minutes. See if you can get into that one instead."
Opening: Batgirl.....Continuation: Ellie