The story so far… Old Wives’ Tale
The little girls, now awake and mewing, tried to lift their heads to search for their mother. She was softly singing a lullaby her mother sang to her.
The way the babies were joined, just below their fifth rib, they always held each other in a close embrace. Now, awake and cold in the dark, their free hands reached up, hoping to find Amelia.
Amelia picked up her little girls. The two of them together weighed less than a single baby at their age. Barely 10 months old, they were already tempting fate. Conjoined twins usually died at birth, or lived mere days. To survive this long, in the dead of winter, was as miraculous as their birth.
Holding them flat against her chest, she wrapped her shawl around them. They reached out with their free arms, and brought her into their circle. With their faces close to hers, they nuzzled her cheek. Amelia laid a hand on each of their heads, her fingers instinctively searching for their soft spots, needing to feel the comforting beat of their hearts.
Charles would be home soon, and she knew what he expected of her. She just wanted to hold them close, just one last time. Warmed by their tiny bodies, she fell asleep dreaming of her babies walking, running, dancing, as two little girls.
The slamming door woke her. Charles was home from the travelers’ camp, drunk and angry.
He was ashamed of his women folk. His deficient wife gave birthed to an unholy child. The other travelers were wary, some whispered, most simply shied away. Some few others, cruel and heartless, openly jeered and taunted them.
Charles had let it go on long enough, and demanded Amelia do something about it. She failed, again. Here she was, coddling them like they were real babies.
Nearly tripping over her woolen coil, he picked up the cord, wrapping it around each tiny neck. Amelia tried to rise, to protect her daughters, but he was too strong…. and they died in her arms. Killed by their own father.
For years after, Amelia had nightmares of the event. Her little girls, Emmy and Jessie, looking to her, their eyes filled with fear before the light was extinguished from them.
Charles wrestled the babies from her arms, taking them away into the dark cold. Later, he returned to tell her they would remain hidden until spring. When they traveled east to Tennessee, she would have the burden of carrying their bones to their new home. A punishment for disobeying him. She had to learn that he was in control.
That night, as Charles slept off his drunk, no dreams haunted him. Amelia sat awake missing her babies, longing to feel them still asleep in her arms. She knew then that she would avenge them. It may take years, but one day Charles Parker would pay for the evil he did.