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As Dark Longs For Day

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“I know this is a strange thing to ask, my Lord,” I whispered, sewer water rushing past my knees and the first sunlight I’d seen in a month flickering overhead. “Especially as it’s the precise opposite of what I asked you for two years ago. But if you could see fit to make my breasts smaller, right now, that would be a great help.”

I pressed my hands outward against the narrow stone passage that led upward to freedom – via the smallest hole you ever saw a human being fit through. But fit through it I would. The alternative was dying in the dungeons of the Bishop Sebastian. Didn’t know if he’d leave me in there to rot of starvation or fetch me forth to be hanged, and didn’t intend to find out. Already I’d slithered through vents and tunnels they thought nobody was small enough – or desperate enough – to manage. I was on the verge of being the very first prisoner ever to escape the bishop, and no trifle like this was going to stop me. 

As I climbed upward, bare feet slippery against mold-covered rock, I muttered to the Lord – under my breath, but of course He can always hear – “Just think of the benefits to you, Lord. Smaller breasts for me means less attention from men. Fewer opportunities for me to sin. And as I’m weak and liable to fall prey to every opportunity for sin I’m given, wouldn’t it make sense to not to give me so many?”

He must have heard me, for I found that with a great deal of twisting and turning, I was able to push myself out and through. Like a fish I flopped onto the ground, laughing out loud for joy. The birds I’d named myself after circled overhead in the sky.

I was free. Free! From the bishop’s keep! They’d talk about “the Raven” for a hundred years or more. Sing songs about me around the fire. I liked the idea.

Breathing hard, I rested my hands against my heaving chest – then spoke to the Lord once again. “I see that in your infinite mercy you chose to make the passageway bigger and leave my breasts the same. Don’t worry, Lord. I’ll put them to good use.”

Not that any man would be paying attention to them, or me, in my state – not nearly so pert as I was before the bishop’s guards threw me into the dungeons for poaching. (The trap wasn’t mine – I was stealing the hare from the one who’d truly poached it, and in so doing teaching him a lesson – but the soldier who caught me at it had no head for the finer points of the law.) Not much to eat in the dungeon, and none of it good. And I’d swum out through a sewer. Any man who’d come after me now was one I’d as soon have no part of, least of all the part he’d be offering. 

I decided to have a wash in the next stream I came across and then see what the day might offer in terms of clothing, food or money left unattended. 

And I admit, after a few lonely weeks in the dungeon, surrounded only by slatterns and paupers of my own sex, the thought of finding a good-looking fellow once I was back to myself – well, it was pleasing.

But isn’t it always the way? You go forever without meeting a man, and then you meet two at once.