Disclaimer: Based on the work of Tamora Pierce


Word count – 396

A response to Tammy Drabbles Prompt 41

This time it had gone too far; and, while she was not one to give up on anything, Onua had to admit defeat. She began to pack with shaking and swollen fingers. Time was not on her side. The law was not on her side. She didn't even know where she was going to go. But she had heard that things were better in the west – that women were not the property of their mates in Tortall. It might be little more than rumor, but it was the only hope she had left.

Onua limped through the doorway and wiped her moist brow. Blood. That couldn't be good. She lifted the bread box and emptied the contents into a second rucksack. She added the last piece of salt pork and the jar of dried fruit. It wasn't much, but it would have to get her through. She exited their meager home with all she had in the world contained in two threadbare bags.

Onua took a ragged breath, suddenly aware that even that was painful – cracked ribs probably. If she did this, she could never return. It would dishonor her family – but then, how honorable could it be to let him beat her to death? For a moment, duty and self-preservation warred within her, each vying for priority. She might have turned around and tried to stay, were it not for the encouraging barks of the large hunting dog her husband had won in a card game. He, too, had been kicked around. He was a sad sight, covered in scabs and cowering on his rope. Garon had not even cared to name the creature, as if he did not deserve even the most basic care. She untied the dog while he licked her face and whimpered slightly.

"Will you cast your lot with mine?" she asked, not really expecting an answer. "We may not make it far." But the dog bit down on the heavier rucksack and began to drag it toward the road. She took that as his reply, and the two began their journey, casting one last, sorrowful look at the past. Marriage was supposed to be forever, or so she'd been told. In this case, that had to be wrong. Hadn't the point been hammered home over and over again? Lessons that came with blood and broken bones were always the hardest.