Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty. - Mother Theresa
I just hope that you'll be there with me for it.
"Stable boy!Stable boy! I need your help carrying this!" a loud voice boomed through the air as Jake threw another bundle of hay into the cattle's pen. Jake looked up and sighed exhausted from his work, having been forking hay all day, he tiredly looked across at the small, black cat a few feet away perched on the wooden beam in the old shed.
"You're as lucky as ever to be a cat," he grumbled softly, sticking the pitch fork on the mound of hay with a bit too much force and then heading out the door, but not before petting the feline. It inclined it's head slightly, almost to say, I know right, and Jake couldn't help but smirk at it as he walked off reminded of the other more audacious feline in his life .
He rounded the hut and to see the middle aged, pudgy , balding man who called him, and had hired him as a stable hand. Jake had been working with the man for almost seven years, since he left primary education in the village and was told the harsh truth, if he wanted to eat, he had to work. Yet, despite all of these years that guy always yelled at him rudely, and Jake was certain he didn't even know his name. But, I guess that happened when you were practically at the bottom of the food chain, he thought lamely. He waved to the man so he'd stop screaming for him, Jake was well aware of his position afterall, he was constantly surrounded by the smell of cow manure and sheep dung, and forced to do any random odd job James Hordy gave him, he really didn't need the reminder that he was a stablehand. It was as clear as night and day, and it was what Jake had come to accept.
Jake stopped a few feet in front of his boss, despite the fact the man was about twice his age, Jake easily towered over him at 6'1, and was definitely more muscled. There was at least one advantage of manual labor, Jake was definitely well built, muscular and by most estimations very handsome, and because of that he had his fair share of girls showing interest in him, although none really caught his attention, as they giggled when he passed. His brother, Jason on the other hand took full advantage of their genes, and good looks, and was well known in their town for charming skirts off of the 19th century girls in Corte village where he lived. Most of that didn't matter to Jake though, flirty village girls, nor get rich quick schemes, like his eldest brother Jackson, liked to be involved in, really made him burn with desire. For Jake, life was just living day by day. Going to work, being paid just enough to feed himself and taking care of his father and their family cat. It wasn't even to say he was happy or content, more so just he was resigned. He long understood his place in life, he was the son of a poor miller, who's mill was broken and old. His father was sick, and mother long dead, his brothers were looked down on by everyone as completely useless, and Jake was certain, he wasn't going anywhere either, so why try. For what purpose should he think of doing more than just shoveling dung daily, the only thing he had to look forward to was his crazy,moody, audacious cat, who had a way of yanking his chain and adding a bit more fun to his life, even if it was just because he wanted to see what devious thing the cat would do next. However, aside from that there was nothing. It was 535 years after the dark age and there was a saying in the world, if you're born a pauper, you'll die the same way, that's how it's been and that's how it always will be. So, what was the point aiming for anything, when the best he'd get was a stupid mill that would break down in a few years. If he had any interest at all it would be reading books on politics, geography, economics and things like that, but the truth was that wasn't much use in his 'role' as a poor miller's kid. So he generally resigned himself to these tasks of manual labor, this would be just his life, and all it ever would be.
"Hey, carry this blasted wheat! I nearly sprained my back lifting it, take it to the shed, stableboy" Jake's boss, James Hordy shouted, not that Jake wasn't less than two feet away by now, so yelling was completely unnecessary. Jake however didn't bother to say anything, he was also aware speaking out of turn even when someone annoyed you was a good way to get fired, his brother Jackson was legendary at that. That however did not stop the sarcastic comment from flying through his head,
'You think it'll sprain your back? Imagine what it'll do to the guy you had carrying these kind of bags since morning,' Jake thought sarcastically, allowing his gaze to fall on the unnecessarily large bag of wheat. Wordlessly, and with practiced indifference, he picked it up, and threw it over his shoulder, yep, in his head, he'd think it but the words wouldn't reach his mouth. Standing up to Hordy wouldn't be worth it, and then his generally peaceful although meaningless life would possibly get worse. So, instead, Jake employed his skillful expression of indifference ignoring the immediate pain th ran up his back, as he took the first brave step forward. A traitorous grunt came from him as he adjusted the large bag on his back, and his muscles ached in pain.
'Just how many pounds did this guy buy!?' Jake questioned inwardly, maintaining his mask as James pointed briefly towards the shed he wanted Jake to rest the bag in. It was at least 20 feet away, and because of the slope, the donkey was unlikely to be able to carry the wheat bag there in the wagon, without injuring itself hence--Jake deduced, James called him. Jake sighed, resigning himself as he walked onwards, as quickly as he could manage, anxious to throw off the added weight. It doesn't matter, he chanted inwardly, as he tried to ignore the pain in his back and a growing feeling of frustration in his stomach,
'When you get back, I've some more stuff for you to do!" James called after him, and Jake grit his teeth. It doesn't matter, he chanted again, he was the stablehand, this is what stablehand did...albeit James enjoyed making him do the jobs of at least three stable hand, but it didn't matter...This was his life. He practically had no rights...and so even if Hordy overworked him, even if was doing a donkey's job, it didn't matter...he'd just have to accept it...right?
Jake dropped the bag unceremoniously to the ground, the moment he reached. Thank God, he couldn't help but breath out. This must have been the tenth large bag James had him bring in today, just what was that guy planning to do. He was being even more demanding today than usual, asking him to carry cattle supplies, fork hay, and work on fence maintenance, all in one day from 5 am to 5 pm. Jake was already more than ready to go home, and it was only 3 in the evening. Yet, in spite of everything, he couldn't help but be more than just a little frustrated at the prospect of going back out there, the way he was going James would probably ask him to clean the stables next--despite that was a whole day job!!
"Stable boy!! Get your butt out here! I want--" Jake heard James shout out. Jake could feel himself take a sharp breath willing himself not to cringe, why...?!? Is he so persistent, the man didn't know how to stop.
"Oh! Just give the boy a rest already, James--you've been working him like death," Jake heard the chirpy yet loud voice of James' wife, Sarah cut him off. Relief flowed out of Jake immediately, God, he loved that woman, he couldn't help but think. At least she seemed to have a something of a heart...she was definitely too good for the balding old man, but Jake was often glad they were together, because she was the only saving grace in his farmhand job.
James Hordy loved his wife and did whatever she asked, it made Jake both afraid of women and intrigued with them all at the same time. The way that Hordy's personality did a 180 turn when she entered the room, or more so the look of pure devotion and love, that they often looked at each other with, as if all of their hearts desire, were fulfilled in the other person. It was amazing to say the least, not that he could fully understand it, he had met many pretty girls in his village, but none caught his heart, and made him desire her: attention and love, the way Hordy and his wife seemed to be.
"But my sweet," James began, and Jake once again felt the desire to laugh at the immediate change in the gruff man's tone, "King Thomas, from the kingdom of Denver is holding a ball soon," James Hordy's words were filling with excitement as he spoke, "It seems that he can't get his hand on certain foods in his area, and so is going further afield to purchase supplies from neighbouring villages ," he continued to explain, "I need to prepare my farm, just in case he comes here, he may find my farm is useful, and perhaps may claim it as part of the land under Denver's rule--all of the farm owners were talking about it between yesterday and today," Jake exhaled slowly, as he played over the words James were saying. He was well aware of the political environment his village was in, not that he had any say in it as a stableboy, but he knew probably way more than James the Farmer. The Kingdom of Denver was about five miles from their location, but King Thomas was well known for his laws and sense of justice. He knew how to command, direct and take care of his people, in Jake's and many common folk's opinion a great leader. However, his kingdom wasn't the largest, and he was not the type to wage war unnecessarily, so he often sent out ambassadors to small villages and areas to work with the ruling Lord in the area. Some areas had no specific ruler, in which case the King would negotiate with the highest in command in the area, it could be an expensive venture, so the King generally only sent out his delegates and negotiated with lands of the most profit to him, as Jake would expect. He was kind but the King was wise. Most villagers and common folk, loved the idea of the rule of Kingdom of Denver, so to hopefully gain his attention, often they would try to make their lands seem more plentiful and useful to him, since many of the Lords and Lieges were cruel, heartless and powerful, as some rumors indicated was the case in a nearby territory.
"My, that is pretty exciting," Sarah agreed, Jake could just imagine the smile on the pudgy man's face as his wife agreed with him. He was really quite whipped." But you do realize, if you work Jake too hard now, he wouldn't be much use to you should the king purchase goods from our farm. Perhaps you should give him the rest of the day off," she pointed out and requested all in the same breath. Jake's ears perked immediately in excitement. Did he mention how much he loved this woman? " He is a very good, hard-working boy," she added in. James scoffed softly under his breath, but said nothing as he continued to strain his ears from almost 20 feet away to hear them talk.
"You," James started accusingly, a hint of jealousy in his voice," only care because you think he's handsome," Jake had heard that accusation from his boss before, and he was pretty sure it was true, but he also knew that Sarah had no interest in him besides looking, she was just as crazy about her husband, as her husband was about her...for which Jake was grateful, but Jake was also pretty sure that James worked him hard partly because of his wife's fancy for him.
"Perhaps, " she admitted bashfully, but then turned to blink up seductively at her husband, "but he's nothing compared to my hubby." Jake's stomach turned slightly.
'I'd thank you very much not to compare me to him...' Jake thought, feeling a growing desire not to leave the shed, afraid he's see some of their public displays of affection. He could definitely live without walking in on them making out again...
"You know what, I think it's about time for that boy to leave, I feel I've much more interesting things to do,"James responded suggestively. Jake's stomach turned again, but he tried to push the disturbing thought from his head as he tried to focus on him getting the rest of his day off. He waited a few more seconds, until he was sure the conversation had returned to something strictly PG before he ventured out of the shed again back to the pudgy man. James as promised, allowed him to take the rest of the day off, not before reminding him again of their early morning start time.
'As if it changed for the last seven years,' Jake thought grudgingly. James handed him a full day's wages despite he was leaving early, and Jake hurried home quickly after, anxious to leave before James changed his mind.
Minutes later, Jake was already stepping into the old mill he lived in with his father and two older brothers. Upon reaching, the family cat pounced on him instantly, with so much force he almost stumbled back.
"Whoah, Puss, aren't you overly happy to see me?" he said, suspicion coating his voice, as the cat nestled its head into Jake's chest, rubbing into him, as Jake held him in his arms. Jake frowned down at it but scratched Puss' head anyway. Puss was a weird cat...well weirder than most cats, he disliked most people except Jake's father the miller and him, he never did anything besides hiss at Jake's two brothers, and despite, one could say he liked Jake, he was never really that friendly with Jake either, unless he wanted something. Which was why it was strange he spent so much time, purring into Jake's chest. The cat nipped at his shirt lightly, then looked up at Jake's face expectantly, and Jake sighed. He knew it, Puss was hungry.
As if he'd accomplished his mission, Puss turned and jumped out of Jake's arms and led him to the kitchen, while Jake sighed in frustration before going into the top cupboard to get the cat food for him. A lot of times, he couldn't help but feel used by this cat--manipulated actually, before it use to be his dad, but since he got too ill to move, now it was him.
"Don't you think you should show affection other times aside from when you want something?" Jake tried. Puss wasn't your average cat, yes he could catch and eat mice like no other, but he was smart. Really smart, and he had a way of making sure he got his own way, with Jake, and really and truly with everybody, but in recent years he seemed to enjoy manipulating Jake the most. As annoying as he was though, Puss was probably Jake's best friend--not that he'd admit it. Weird perhaps, but Jake often shared his thoughts with the feline and it seemed like Puss would respond albeit in a proud and haughty manner at which point Jake would get a bit upset by it...although it was likely that Jake just had a very active imagination, and he should play it off as just that...if only for his sanity's sake.
"Merow," came Puss' insightful response, but from the sharp wave of Puss' tail and the fact that he choose then to turn and walk off, Jake practically felt he was saying something like, 'Why should I bother?' Jake frowned slightly. But then there were moments like this that made him think perhaps his cat was a smart, conceited and sassy ball of fur afterall, he sighed, but he was definitely better off not jumping to conclusions, it's not like it actually spoke for all he knew maybe Puss heard a mouse, and went to catch it. There was no reason to accuse the cat of anything.
Jake stooped down by Puss' bowl quickly and poured in the remainder of the cat food. There really wasn't much and that meant he'd have to buy some more with the little money he had, otherwise Puss would have to live off of mice only for a while, and based on his not so subtle message that he sent a while back, Jake recalled--Puss wouldn't be happy about that.
Jake had never been so sure his cat was weird, until when he did that, although his brothers thought it was funny. It had only been a few months before, and funds were tight, so Jake told Puss, he wouldn't be getting any more cat food, he'll have to catch mice to eat. Puss clearly didn't take it very well, because the next day he caught a bunch of mice and rest them by Jake's mouth. Jake woke up screaming when he saw them, then he saw Puss sitting patiently by his bed looking up at him like the reaper, with a look that said, "If I've to eat them, so do you?' Jake was thoroughly disturbed, his brothers although they never messed with Puss, found it was riot, but it was his father's suggestion that made him reconsider how he looked at Puss. His father didn't laugh or anything, instead he stared at Jake with serious eyes and told him, ' You should feed the cat what he wants.' Jake found that kind of devotion his father had to be almost chilling, his father even volunteered to have food cuts so Puss can get cat food. Jake decided he would have food cuts instead, but nevertheless he was shocked by his father's devotion to the cat...in fact he was downright perplexed. Since then Jake looked at Puss in a whole new light. A slightly concerned and dubious light as he wondered what kind of relationship Puss had with his father. Nevertheless, despite the fact the cat was a bit of a menace always manipulating, he liked Puss--kind of, and he knew somewhere under all of that proud fluff, Puss liked him too...probably.
"Well, that's all for now," he said as the last brown ball fell out, and Puss came sauntering back, he looked up at him expectantly, "I'll go buy some more later today, okay?" As if acknowledging him in approval, he gave a soft grunt before he looked down again and started to eat. He sighed, "I'm going to go check on dad," Jake said under his breath, before he got up, again Puss gave a soft sound almost as if giving him permission, and Jake couldn't help but nudge the cat lightly with his foot at its audacious behavior. Yellow slits looked up at Jake and narrowed in what appeared to be a glare, and Jake tried his best to glare back, before he turned away feeling stupid for glaring at a cat.
"Aargh, I'm going mad," Jake groaned dramatically, walking to go up the stairs to the back of the mill which led to the room his father stayed in. His second oldest brother, Jason bumping into his shoulder most likely on purpose as he passed, when Jake ignored it, Jason stopped a foot away from his brother and gave a throaty laugh.
"You talking to that stupid cat again?" he sneered, "You really must be," his eyes flicked over to Puss in the kitchen. Jake's neutral expression returned as he shrugged in response, only Puss ever seemed to earn his annoyance and made him flustered, for everyone else he was determined not to have confrontation even with his brother. Jason however enjoyed confrontation, and tried to rile him and Jackson up. Jake although more muscular in comparison to Jason's lean and slim build, never engaged him in a fight, although Jackson did on more than one occasion usually when he was drunk.
"You heading out," it wasn't really a question, all Jason did was go out. He would barely pass home to see their father for a few minutes before leaving again. It may seem bad but those few minutes showed just how much he loved their father, otherwise Jake imagined never seeing his brother at home unless to steal from their pantry, not that he needed it as a self proclaimed giggalo.
" I can't deny the public this for too long," Jason smirked, motioning to himself with one hand as he head out the door.
'Oh, if the public could be so lucky,' Jake thought in disgust, recalling the numerous times an angry father came hitting on their door, complaining about Jason who 'did and got rid' of one of their daughters. It was not a wonder he couldn't come home more often. Jake heard the sound of clinking coins as his eldest brother, Jackson walked/stumbled down the stairs slowly with a brown pouch in his hand, also likely going out. He on the other hand, Jake doubted was in to see their father, the three of them rarely spent much time in the same room together, especially after their mother died. Jackson stared wordlessly into the air, as Jake assumed he tried to remember what day it was, in spite of his drunk stupor. His eyes rested on Jake and he cringed as if he saw something disgusting, but Jake returned the look with a neutral one, as if he hadn't noticed.
"Don't wait up for me, brother dear--the girls will be calling," Jason pulling open the door, and Jake momentarily wondered who he was talking to, from the frown on Jackson's face he was wondering as well, there wasn't a mouse that would wait up for Jason. You'd be up for days. Jackson did something like a scoff but it failed miserably as he fumbled to reach the last step.
"So you planning to stay around here all night again, isn't that a bit pathetic, brother?" Jackson advised slurring his voice turning his attention to his youngest brother. Jake retained his neutral expression, he listened to his brother's advice.
'Isn't it a bit more pathetic, brother that you can't keep a job, walk straight, think straight or do anything with yourself besides gamble and drink?' came Jake's initial thought.
"I'm fine," Jake stated. Jackson scoffed, this time it was a bit more successful.
"Cheech, all you've got is your stupid cat, you're a waste like the rest of us might as well drink it up," Jackson accused, Jason paused at the door, and shot Jackson a glare also since he had indirectly insulted him. Jake didn't get a chance to respond, before Puss slauntered into the room, and looked up at Jackson and then Jason. There was a devious glint in his eyes, and Jake could see both of his brothers visibly tense. One sharp meaningful hiss came from Puss and Jackson all but wet his pants, as he stumbled back a bit. Jason didn't fair much better, he swiftly ran out of the house and Jackson followed after in a few seconds. Jake looked down at the little terror, as Puss licked his paw like, 'And that's how it's done,' and couldn't help but chuckle. Puss may have an affinity with harassing Jake, but he had at one point tormented all of the miller boys, Jason and Jackson however grew to develop and unnatural fear for the cat. They literally would not stay in the same room as Puss for more than a minute...another reason his two brothers were hardly home, perhaps.
"Just how do you do that?" Jake questioned, turning to Puss, who looked as if he just scoffed softly. Jake turned back, ran up the stairs then greeted his father and talked for a bit, he mentioned the king's ball and then after a few minutes excused himself when his father was getting tired, to go and run an errand. Jake went into the town area, and purchased the cat food quickly before the store closed, but before he could even consider going back home he heard the familiar sound of his boss' voice calling out to him. He sighed and turned around to see his pudgy boss, waving his hand to him...just what part of time off did that guy not get, he accused.
"Stable boy!Stable boy!" James called, almost running across the market area clearly excited to see him. Jake pulled a fake smile on his face, and looked up at his employer expectantly.
"Yes, Mr.Hordy?" he answered, when the man came right before him, a large grin on James' face--that usually wasn't a good thing for Jake.
"I met one," he breathed out, Jake raised an eyebrow, "One of the king's servants has called me to the castle to bring him some livestock, and I need you to come with me tomorrow!"
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.