Kay was one of those they’d Banished. Like prisoners in the old days, or the mad or the homeless, the Banished were as good as dead. In the eyes of the law, anyhow. They had no right to roof or food or love, no right to speak (in public or in private places), no right to what they’d earned or grown or given birth to. Less than prisoners they were, less than slaves. They stood mute and blinking in the fields, like cows.
They gave her children to her husband and his new wife. Gave them her clothes, even, and what goodly things she had: two rings and a silver bell she’d worn at her ankle when she wed.
I met her walking. Found her loping at my side, and felt her reach for me, pull my hand onto her belly to feel the words pinned across her skin. She was candle-wicked, like me. One of the damaged; one of the damned. I stopped and held her hand to my own marks: the same strange phrase circling my wrist, like an earthworm swallowing its own tail.
‘They Banish you?’ she said, and I said nay, there was no need and laughed.
‘I had nothing to claim, and nothing to relinquish,’ I said. ‘Was just a child when all that started.’
‘Where you walking to?’ she said, and I said nothing. Who knew where we were headed, or when we’d all arrive. Only the nubbins in our skin. Only the Candlewick could say.
This is the second post from a work-in-progress called (tentatively) ‘Candlewick’. You can read the first extract here.
The story is being written for submission to an anthology of stories called Defying Doomsday, which will be an anthology of apocalypse-survival fiction with a focus on disabled characters, to be published by Twelfth Planet Press.