The Innocence that Dissipated at Dawn

“Mother, why are you crying?”

The woman’s hands trembled feverishly when the question was asked. She clutched at the dress violently, squeezing the fabric between slender fingers. A tear escape her wet eyes. A second soon followed. In mere seconds every emotion she had tried to conceal poured out. Her cheeks shone in the dawn’s fresh light. The girl shifted on her feet slightly, visibly distressed. The mother did not move, and instead continued holding her daughter’s dress with desperation. She knew however, that no strength in the world would allow her to keep the girl close.

As the dawn’s mist begun dissipating, horns echoed in the distance. They grew closer. The woman, as if abruptly awoken, let go of her daughter’s dress. She looked at the crumbled fabric and drew in a sharp breath. The horns’ cries strengthened. The woman wasted no further time. She straightened the dress with rough, rapid swipes of her hands. She grabbed a bright red sash from a nearby table and tied it around her daughter’s waist. As a particularly loud horn called, she pulled the sash tighter.

The girl winced in pain and instinctively tried to wrestle out of the silken constraint. The woman grit her teeth.
“Not now, Florinia!”
She immediately regretted her tone. The woman tied the bow behind the girl’s back despite the fresh tears obstructing her vision. A knock sounded on the door. The air inside the humble abode vibrated. The woman stopped crying. She grabbed her daughter and held her in a last, tight embrace. She muttered a chocked apology through loud sobs. The girl, seeing her mother’s despair, instinctively begun sulking too. The opening door cut their embrace short. In their final moments together, Florinia smiled with an innocence only children knew. She kissed her mother’s forehead.

“Everything will be alright, mother.”