I set the arrow in place and pulled it back. Breathing deep, I willed my hands to steady, and sighted in on my target. Lumpy and orange, the pumpkin wasn’t a threat –but there were real threats not that far away. The thump of the arrow told me my aim had been true, and I walked across the field to retrieve my kill.
“Make sure you clean that arrow, Wil,” Robin called, “and then come help me break this down. We’ll have pumpkin stew for dinner.”
I had the job of protecting what was left of our family, but Robin’s job was probably the harder one. Our mother had tried to teach her how to cook and take care of us, but there just wasn’t enough time. And now we three were on our own.
The stew was ready by the time I’d cleaned and sharpened my arrows, and Robin was trying to get Little John to eat some of it. He was just one, and adjusting to food other than goat’s milk, so there was an awful lot of orange goo flying through the air. Robin grimaced. “I’m never going to get this out of my hair, Wil.”
Her eyes were sad, and I knew she was talking about a lot more than the pumpkin. “It won’t be much longer, Robin. We’ll be sleeping in beds and wearing warm clothes before the snow starts to fall.” I gave her what I hoped was a gentle smile. “And you’ll have your hood up tonight, so no one will make fun of your hair.”
We’d timed it right, and Robin and John were in the middle of the road just as the carriage was coming around the bend. If they recognized her, they’d run her over, but that’s what her hood was for. And, if everything worked out, they just needed to stop for a minute.
Up in a tree on the side of the road, I set an arrow in place and sighted in on my target. This one was a threat, but if I didn’t think about it too much, I could pretend his head was just a pumpkin.