“Mama, listen to me!”

“I’m not going to listen to some human’s whore!”

Bryn stood in the doorway of the hall. The stone walls had been so warm for so long. Now? Bryn was stunned. “I didn’t do anything! It was a kiss!”

“That’s how it starts! Those humans just take and take and take. They don’t build! They don’t forge! They don’t mine!”

“What? Like daddy did, before he died in a cave in!?”

“Don’t you say a word against your father! By Odin and Frigg, he was a proper dwarf. Dutiful. Kingly.”

“With a martyr’s complex.”

Mama was aghast. She sat at the end of the hall, nalbinding socks. Always socks. “How dare you?”

Bryn coughed, “How dare I!” she crossed around the hearth. “I’m living my own damn life! He’s a nice boy, no honour duels or oaths. Just a nice boy working at the docks and going to school. I might even marry him!”

Mama huffed.

“I could do plenty worse trying to find some smiths and the mines for another binge drinking and wife beating bearded Dwerg.”

“Don’t you use that word here in my home!” Mama was on her feet. The bone needle and yarn scattered on the floor. “Just go, Bryn! Leave! Go be with your beardless little urchin!”

 The pain welled up in Bryn’s chest. She coughed again, hard this time. Her throat felt raw.

Bryn was angry. She wanted to hurt Mama. Hurt her in the only way a daughter could. Bryn coughed. “I will! I don’t like the feeling of hair between my thighs anyways!”

Mama fell back into her seat.

Bryn left, the tears streaming down her cheeks. She was so angry, she didn’t notice the blood she coughed into her hand.


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