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I know why the caged bird sings [Winshire]

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Delilah Winshire wakes before the cock crows, her grey eyes snapping open to a room filled with quiet darkness. Her body has been rising earlier and earlier each day to avoid a rude awakening by the farm’s rooster, but she doesn’t mind. It gives her a few minutes to collect her thoughts and steel herself for the long hours of work to come. Today, she simply lays in bed and stares at the ceiling, instantly wide awake despite having been sleeping less than a minute ago. She is avoiding getting up, as she was kicked squarely in the thigh by one of their old buffalo yesterday, and the skin below her hip is still swollen with a bruise she’s sure has melted into deep purple overnight.

As with many other days, her mind in this hazy dusken darkness drifts to her childhood on the Winshire ranch, before the tyrant king takes control of the land. Her first five years were a blissful, prosperous time for the ranch, with ostriches and horses and buffalo stretching as far as her little eyes could see. She would name each newborn calf, stroke the ewes with loving hands, play tag with the chickens and roll in the mud with the piglets. Her father often tosses her in the air with his rough hands, causing her to scream with laughter until her mother chastises him to put Delilah down, she’ll get sick for Gaia’s sake!

They pay fealty to House Hildebrand, who are gracious lords, every one of them. The agricultural dynasty often hosts celebrations at their manor, and Delilah remembers hating the feel of that old calico dress on her skin, and her mother tugging her wild brown curls into braids. Still, she loves running around the spacious estate, and is the fiercest child among the bannermen houses. She bosses the other youthlings around, even those older than her by several years; with her stubborn chin and bright eyes, Delilah Winshire is not one to be tamed. Her father laughs at her when she inevitably returns to him with mud all over her dress, having wrestled one (or several) of the Hildebrand children into the dirt. Well, he chuckles, Did you at least win?

She always does.

Edited by roboblu

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