((WR - September)) Nobility for Dummies: A Crash Course in Manners

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Brick Aneirin Howe was never one for his studies, a fact that his mother Meirwen knew all too well as she continued to drill him on which spoon to use and when. She pinched at the bridge of her nose as she listened  to her son's latest explanation of why some part of him was bruised, battered, or broken. Sometimes it were all three at the same time because, instead of the little nobleman she were trying to raise, she'd ended up with a little monster. A monster she loved, but a monster nonetheless.

"I was runnin' wif that kid from down the street, Mam! You know the one, 'e's got the really big, poofy 'air loike you and we was runnin' to see 'oo was faster when I tripped on the cobbly stones and went slidin'. 'e got to the end of the street before me, but 'e chea'ed because I fell over. So, we's gonna go again anovver day." He holds up a skinned elbow proudly, red and raw from the small rocks he'd run over on the road. He flashed her a grin (that was too big, one of those childlike smiles that lit up his entire face, because it took up the entirety of it), several of his baby teeth missing.

As the boy went on, she watched while he took one of the spoons and placed it on his crooked nose, holding his hands out proudly, and showing her just how small of a spoon he could manage to keep from falling. One of the spoons finally went clattering to the table below him, unable to hold on much longer and seeking sweet freedom away from the young boy. The boy picked it up, crinkling up his nose as he placed the spoon back. His eyes crossed as he kept a careful watch on the spoon. Meirwen snatched the spoon away, setting it back down onto the table with a sigh. Meirwen nodded in the direction of the room they shared, unable to keep the smile off of her face. As much as she wanted these lessons to go well, she had almost as little idea of what she were doing as the boy she were trying to teach.

The room was... cozy, to say the least, almost too small for the two of them to share. The walls were bare, save for a framed finger painting of a fish that the boy had made at school. Most of the walls in their home were the same. A few small pieces of artwork (never very good, all things considered) set against an old, bare wall. But while they weren't swimming in money, Meirwen had made a point to decorate with whatever she could. The window had a set of tasteful yet worn curtains that helped keep out the light in the mornings, the bed had a large, woven quilt. Their house was a home, damn it!

She pointed at the bed as an invitation to sit as she pulled out a small tin from within their broken, shared wardrobe. Once filled with festive, holiday cookies from Winter's Veil past, the tin now housed buttons, string, and needles. The wrong tin. Meirwen sets it back with a purse of her lips, grabbing a near identical one. Near identical in that it were the same tin, but with a dent in the side, and filled to the brim with bandages and what little medicine they could scrape together. There would have been more if the little monster didn't get hurt every other day.

"Lambkin," she finally says, a glimmer of playfulness in her eyes, as she begins cleaning the injury with what little alcohol they had. "You 'ave to be more careful, we's runnin' out of the good stuff to patch you up. You can't beat no neighbor boys if you's so clumsy. 'ow're you gonna be a lil noble lad if you can't even use the two feet I gave you?" She pokes him in the nose, knowing full well that this scheme to teach him to be noble was all for naught. But it was at least a fun little way to bond with her son.

"Why're you teachin' me to be one of them stuffy nobles anyway, Mam? Not loike we's one of them." He shrugs his little shoulders, a pout upon his face. "Why I gotta act loike somefin' I'm not?"

"Because you is one," she says simply, eyes softening as he winced away from her touch. She takes one of the last few strips of bandage from their little tin of medical(?) supplies and wraps his arm with it. "Because your da's noble."

"But 'e's not 'ere!" And now it were Meirwen's turn to recoil, that had stung. Defiant. Stubborn. Too aware for his own good. "Why I gotta be loike 'im? Why can't I be loike you?" Because being like him is better for you, she wanted to say. Because being like me means struggling. But she couldn't say that. She placed her hands upon his shoulders, looking into his warm, brown eyes. But what could she say? She struggled with her words when the little boy spoke up again. "I loike you be'er than 'im, anyway."

She laughed. She couldn't help it. As much as she wanted to, she couldn't stay serious any longer. She never was good at being serious.

"Obviously, it's so you can infiltrate their ranks and become one of them," she says with another chuckle. "Don't you wanna know wot it's loike on the ovver soide of the 'ills? Come on, I can show you 'ow to talk loike one of them and you can show off for all your lil friends. Wif the funny voices, ye? The ones you loike so much? I'll put a pot of tea on and we can make fun of them togevver."

Meirwen watched as Brick's little face lit up, like a thousand lights had been turned on. Tea? Funny voices? Silly words? That was everything to him. That was why he loved her so much! He seemed to move on past their little conversation quickly, kicking off of the bed and following after her towards their meager kitchen. Kitchen? Was it really a kitchen? Or was it more of a kitchenette? It could barely fit the both of them, with a small countertop and a few overhanging shelves that they struggled to fill with much. An old, dented tea kettle is set over a fire as the two take their seats at the worn, round table that served as dining space, living space, guest space, and everything else under the sun.

The woman looks across the table at her son as a smirk played upon her lips. She holds up several of the spoons from earlier: large and small, long and short. All from different sets that she had managed to sneak away during her time as a servant in various noble homes. It was her dirty secret: spoon thief. Her voice changes, from whatever potato mouthed, street talk they usually frequented into something half resembling the sounds she had heard while working. "So, which of these spoons do you think I can hold on my nose the longest?"

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