I woke up.
The old quilt was comfortably heavy upon me and held me gently in the straw stuffed bed. I could see where the pitch had become thin between the boards of the rough cottage. Dried and drying flowers hung in bunches above me. A bee was trying to coax the last memory of spring from a yellowing white flower before the pervasive chill could not be ignored anymore.
A second aged voice followed the first. “Oh ho! So she is!”
“She’s worse than awake. She’s aware.” The third voice, also age-scratched, but also wise-deep. This is the one I’m going to have to be wary of.
Small strong hands patted my feet from over the covers. “It’s okay, dearie. You had a spell and needed to rest.”
Smaller and stronger hands patted my hands from over the covers. “No troubles here, dearie. The Outside can’t come in Here. You’re safe.”
Even smaller and greatly stronger hands covered my face. “In fact, dearie. Shouldn’t you go back to sleep? Rest while you can. The Work will resume when it does.”
All three patted their stations three times lightly. Despite all my efforts to resist, I was lowered into a deeper dreamless sleep.