What follows skips ahead of the part where Juena’s unnamed replacement starts taking the tribe in a direction Jansa doesn’t believe (now dead maybe) Juena would have.
“She’s poisoned your thinking. All your thinking!” Sweeping her arm in a half circle for emphasis, Jansa enjoined the polite onlookers in her angry conversation with Shelt. Her rage disallowed eye contact with any one individual in the group till she caught the attention of Tinna at the edge of her gesture. Tinna’s unexpected appearance and gentle face cooled Jansa’s mood some.
Shelt gripped her arm and forcefully turned her back around to face him. He held her hands at her waist for a moment. Jansa mistook his contorted visage for matching anger—this is where he would smack her of course. Instead he sighed.
Jansa realized she’d just seen him make a decision. Then he dropped his head and sighed again—his actions held a strange clarity she’d never experienced before. This time he formed words in preparation for speaking to her. Even before he leaned in and whispered long and definitively she knew it would be devastating.
In later years, Jansa could never recall what happened before or after this moment. This moment however lived sharply and more believably in her memory than many more recent ones. Jansa could describe the thin high clouds in the blue-grey winter sky like a poem, name the tribespeople and place them in order as they surrounded her, angle the sun along the horizon by it’s timorous warm on her neck, and mark the instant the [some bird] stopped whistling in the bush. But now her arms drooped and she stumbled but didn’t fall to the ground when the news was finished.
Her life became a shattered clay pot. She could find all the pieces. She could line them up neatly. She could identify where each belonged and how each joined with another. She could not rebuild it. She could not make it carry water. Jansa wished he’d hit her instead.
Word count: 310