Sarah woke up with that feeling. She reached out, but the other half of the bed was empty. Levy had already left for the smithy. She resigned herself to the fact and got up. She dressed slowly, stretching long and hard, tensing her body, but the feeling only got worse. Well, there’s always tonight, she thought.
She ate quickly, then started the day’s chores. The feeling dimmed some, but it continued to flare up through the day. She worried. What if he didn’t want to?
Halfway through the day it hit her. Nightfruit! That way he’d have to want to!
She hurried to finish her tasks, and then grabbed her staff and started across the field. She had seen some growing by the fence, near where Greta, Levy’s sister-in-law kept her herb garden. She hiked through the field, enjoying the warm sun. She thought of the soon coming night. She hiked faster.
She reached the fence, but no amount of searching would find a single nightfruit. She realized from the amount of marks in the area that the cows had probably been eating them. No wonder both cows had had calves. She looked up, and saw Greta in her garden.
“Good day! Lovely, isn’t it?”
“Yes.” Replied Sarah. She walked closer. She hesitated shyly. “I was looking for an herb, but I think the cows ate it. Do you know where I might find it?”
Greta stood, hands on hips. “Depends. What are you looking for?”
Sarah blushed lightly. “Nightfruit.”
“Ah!” Greta grinned. “I usually get that on The Outcrop. It’s a climb, but it’s worth it!” She giggled. “I shouldn’t think you’d need it, though, only being married a week.”
“Nine days, and it never hurts to be sure.” Sarah smiled back.
“Thanks.” She turned to leave.
“It’s just in good fruit, too. I gathered some just this week.”
“That explains your smiling face then, doesn’t it!” Both laughed at that.
Sarah started off towards The Outcrop. The Outcrop was a monolith that jutted up in the woods between Levy’s property and Greta’s father’s property, to the east. Sarah had to walk for a half hour to reach the woods, and another ten minutes to reach the foot of The Outcrop. When she got to the bottom, she looked up. And up. And up more. The top of The Outcrop was hidden in the blaze of the sun. Is this really worth it? she asked herself. I know Levy won’t need it. She then shrugged. It might be fun, she thought, and started climbing.
Five minutes later she was thirty feet higher, and several degrees hotter. She paused to look around. She saw further up a likely place to find nightfruit growing. Nightfruit liked a thin but rich soil, with shade. The rock above could easily provide that. She kept climbing.
She found a path that led along the face of the rock. It was rather wide, with grass growing sparsely on it. It soon narrowed, and eventually disappeared. She climbed up higher, by means of a few cracks in the rock, but soon had to back down for lack of further holds. She walked back down the rock, fingering a few, recent tears in her skirt. She found another path, one that led in the other direction. It led up to a wide, mossy ledge. A small pool of cold water lie there, fed by rain and a small seeping spring. She drank the water, and rested on the moss. She lay there, wishing she could have Levy there, in the cool fresh air. He was working, however, hammering hot iron, working off the last year of his apprenticeship. She would be alone all day. She got up, and continued to climb.
She found what seemed to be a path, scuffed onto the bald stone by occasional use. She followed it up. It was steep, and the sun was now hot, and there was no wind. She hadn’t gotten too far before she was sweating heavily. She followed it up to a small ledge that ended in a sheer twenty foot cliff. At the top of the cliff, just hanging over the edge, she saw a leaf, one she recognized. There were cracks in the cliff face, but they were small and far apart. They also were, unfortunately, the only way up. She pulled off her boots, and hoisted herself up with bare toes and fingers.
Sarah had worked as a metalsmith for years, but after a minute or two of climbing she found her arms aching. Her calves were cramped, and so were her forearms. What was worse, she was only halfway up the cliff. She paused for a moment to rest. She looked out from the face of the rock. She was already higher than the treetops. She could see her house in the distance. She looked down, and shut her eyes tight. A night with her beloved husband was the furthest thing from her mind.
Finally she urged herself back into movement. She struggled upwards, and finally pushed her face level with the tiny shelf. All it had on it was a thin layer of moss and the nightfruit plant. Hanging down pendulously from the bushy green leaves were two red fruit. They looked so ridiculous that she would have laughed had not the pain been so great. With enormous effort she reached up and plucked one of the fruit. I got it! she exulted. Now all I have to do is get down.
When Levy got home that evening, he opened the door to his house and looked around. He was fairly well off, and actually had two rooms, a main room and a bedroom. The bedroom curtain was closed. A cold supper was waiting for him, as had been the case the few times he had been late before, and he proceeded directly to work on it. The meat he ate first, then the potatoes and bread. Partway through the meal he noticed a bowl upside-down in the center of the table, as if covering something. He waited until last to move it, expecting it to be a sweet of some sort, as his young bride had occasionally made before the wedding. When he lifted it, however, the red nightfruit gleamed seductively in the lamplight. He stared at it for a moment, then snatched it up and hasten into the bedroom.
He undressed hurriedly, while softly calling Sarah’s name. When no one answered, he carefully lie down beside her warm form. She did not move. She was so exhausted from her efforts she had fallen sound asleep. He gently shook her, but to no avail. So, he kissed her gently, and fell asleep as well, the nightfruit forgotten in his hand.