Keric's Family

    Keric slipped into the barn. He wandered to the back store room to get some fresh grain for Spirit. As he fed the horse, he thought of how different he found chores to be now. It used to be that he would do whatever task was given to him. Now, he actually took the time to appreciate the hard work he did. He looked up at the horse, smiling. “It’s this whole family thing, you see,” he said to the horse, as he mucked out the stall. “A few years ago all I had was myself.”

    The horse shook his head, almost as if he understood what the boy was saying. “Sure after I got here, I had Lady Rissa and Lord Lihrarryn. But they are priests. Priests are supposed to be kind to you,” he hesitated, “well most priests.”

    The horse pricked his ears forward, almost encouraging the boy to continue. “Family on the other hand is different. At least I am starting to learn that it is. I’ve never had family before. I barely remember my mother and I never knew my father.” He paused, lost in thought for a moment or two. Trying to remember the woman that had given birth to him. He shook his head amused, as an image of Lady Lizzie flashed into his head. He saw her holding little Alysanna. He laughed, startling the horse.

    “Maybe Alysanna is right. I guess Lady Lizzie is my mother now.” Keric didn’t even think twice about communicating mentally with a baby, who was only a few months old. Keric lifted the water bucket off it’s hook. “I’ll be right back.” He pat the horse as high up on the shoulder as he could reach. Keric carried the bucket out to the pump outside to fill it for the big horse. He carried it back into the horse’s stall. “It’s very strange having family. I don’t know what to expect.” He paused to look at the horse, “I guess that’s the point, isn’t it? I knew what to expect as a slave. Maybe I’m not supposed to know what to expect.”

    He reached out to pull the rope attached to the hay chute over the manger. As the hay tumbled into the manger, Keric heard the surprised squeak of an animal, as it fell down into the manger with the hay. Spirit pushed his way forward to start on his dinner. “Wait! Stop Spirit! It might be a rat.” Keric eased himself past the horse to look in the manger. He blinked in surprise at the enormous kitten eyes staring at him. “Huh. Well you certainly aren’t a rat.” He reached into the manger, picking up the kitten. He chuckled, as he tried to clean the hay and horse slobber off the kitten. “You are a mess.” He grinned at the horse. “Yup, you never know what to expect from family.” He looked at the kitten, “I think you need a family too. Just like me."

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