Castles

“Maybe someday, we’ll live in the castle!” The young man, Devon, sat on the grass and pointed to the cliffs where the Baron’s towers overlooked the bay, the spires piercing the sky.

The woman, his aunt Edwina, had lived long enough to remember when there were only three of those towers. Now there were six. By the time Devon was old, there could be a dozen.

“I don’t want to live a castle,” she said. “They’re big, and drafty, and dark.”

“But they’re full of food and wine and parties,” said Devon. “And princesses.”

“Countesses, at best, in this part of the kingdom,” she said, “but I don’t care. The Baron himself could get down on his knee, and I’d stay where I am.”

“Out here on the farms?” Devon said. “With the animals?”

“I’ll take animals over barons and countesses,” Edwina answered. “Look at that castle. What’s it made of?”

His face spread into a smile. “Stones a big as my house.”

“That right, stones. And do you know why?” she asked.

“It’s gotta be strong. In case of an attack!”

“Exactly.” She faced him, now, which made him look at her. “That’s not a house, boy. That’s a glorified fort. I don’t want to live in a fort. I don’t want to spend all of my time getting ready to go to war or fend off an army. I don’t want to sleep next to a suit of armour and stare at a sword over the headboard.

“I want to live in a home. With neighbours. Who care about me, and I care about them. I want food enough to eat, a roof that doesn’t leak, warm clothes when it’s cold. I want feast days, and carnival, and music at nights.

“And I want everyone else to have that, too, not to live in a big castle and look down on them. Homes are for living in; castles are for dying in. They’re big, ugly monuments to everything I hate.”

“The Baron,” Devon said slowly, “could have you killed for saying that.”

“All the more reason to say it.”