Idy tried to sit up, but she was unable to. Her head throbbed and her limbs burned. She wondered where she was. Slowly her heavy eyelids lifted. The light of the moon shone through the cracks in the roof. The attic, she thought. Idy tried to push herself up from the mattress, but she couldn’t. Her throat and lips were parched. She needed water.
“J-Jacob,” she stammered, but there was no answer.
“Ja-cob, w-water.” And then she remembered; Jacob was gone. She was alone in the attic. Idy struggled to her elbow, then slowly raised herself. A wave of dizziness hit her, and she closed her eyes until it passed. Having missed her lunch and dinner, she knew she had to drink. She crawled off the mattress, and stopped to catch her breath. Then inch by inch, Idy crept to the wooden bucket. Using all the power she could, she lifted herself to her knees and tipped the bucket to her lips to drink. The cold water felt good. She dipped her hands in to wet her face, and felt something smooth and cold at the bottom. Even in the dimness of the night, Idy knew it was Jacob’s egg.
Idy lifted the egg from the water, and held it to her heart. “Please,” she whispered, looking up through the cracks, “wherever he is, take care of him.” She wiped away her tears, cracked the egg open, and drank it. After stuffing the shells between the slats of the floor, Idy crawled to Jacob’s side of the attic. She’d sleep on his mattress tonight.
No one woke Idy the next morning. The sun was shining bright when she finally opened her eyes. Idy sat up alarmed. Why was she on Jacob’s mattress? Then the memory crashed down on her, but her eyes stayed dry, and her heart hollow. She forced herself out of bed, and got ready to begin her day.
The house was eerily quiet. A lone tin bowl of grits sat on the counter, and Idy hungrily reached for it. Huddled near the warm stove, she ate the cold, tasteless clumps. The back door swung open, and Idy jumped.
“So Princess Idy has decided to get out of bed,” Fay sneered.
Idy had no patience for Fay’s niggling this morning.
She ate her grits, then washed the tin bowl and set it on the counter to dry.
“Ignoring me won’t make Jacob come back, you know.”
Idy inhaled deeply, but said nothing. Fighting with Fay wouldn’t make him return either.
Pulling her shawl tighter around her shoulders, Idy went to the barn to begin her chores.
Mr. Renard was there, but ignored her. Idy was glad for it. She couldn’t so much as look at the man.
“Give me a hand here,” Mr. Renard said several minutes later. “Grab the log and set it over by the wall.”
Without making a sound, Idy placed both hands beneath the log, but was unable to lift it even an inch.
“You lazy girl. Put some elbow grease in it!”