goatkeeper

The mountain is her father, and he sent her mules to guide her. That’s what she tells everyone. It’s easier than the other.  Besides, they all already know the other.

Her mother hates both of her fathers. She hates the mountain because she worries Mya will fall and be found crushed among the rocky base weeks later. And she hates Robert because he left Mya behind.

“I knew better than to hope he’d take me with him,” Mya had overheard her telling old Sal the goatkeeper. Mya had been smaller then, hadn’t sprouted tits and loomed tall over all the other girls because her fathers were both taller than anyone else. “But the girl? He loved that girl, and she loved him and Ned–Lord Stark brought his bastard home with him. I suppose a king is too high up for that, but it crushed the girl.”  Among the rocks.

Mya keeps to herself mostly, except for Randa who had taken a shine to her when they’d been girls together.  Her father had thought that his girl playing with a king’s bastard was a good thing before he had realized the king gave two shits about his firstborn and tried to end the connection. Randa wouldn’t have it though, and Randa always got what she wanted.  It was Mya who gave her the name Randa. It was confusing. Myranda and Mya, and Randa had a long enough name to cut it short.

“You could come into my household and be my handmaiden,” Randa had said before she’d been wed.  “It would be nice to see you when you don’t smell all stinky from the mules.”

But Mya had shaken her head.

When she’d been a girl, her father had thrown her into the air and she’d giggled.   He’d kissed her nose and her cheeks, and she’d begged him again! again! to throw her.  So long as she lived, she’d love that feeling of fast air all around her, and that was something her father couldn’t take away from her.  Only winter and being Myranda’s handmaid.  The mules even stunk less badly on the mountainside.

Everything stunk less on the mountainside.  And when the wind whipped through her hair and she closed her eyes, for a moment Mya could smile and pretend she was falling into her father’s arms again.

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