Bryna braided her hair simply, so that the braid hung straight along her spine. She tucked the braid down the back of her shirt, and wrapped her mother’s dark shawl over the rest of her head. With a quick glance into the small looking glass, Bryna assured that each curl was tucked safely away under the shawl. Even one red strand would be a dead giveaway, because Bryna Anne was the only one in town hair quite that bright.
She pulled up the hem of her skirt, securing it carefully under the tight spot of the half britches she wore underneath the skirt. It was a tried and true method that was passed from older girls to younger girls, often giggling together in the back of the town parties. It was a way to keep hems up and out of the mud, and free your feet for whatever sneaking about you were planning to do.
Bryna tip-toed carefully around Patch, the little brown mutt that she had saved from the mud a couple years ago, and slipped into the hall. She pressed herself against the wall just outside her bed room door, leaning forward ever so slightly to check down the little alcove that led to her mother’s room. Her door was latched tight, and the light was on, which meant her mom was definitely in there. She counted to three, taking a deep breath before pushing off the wall. Six steps across the living room, then she was out the front door and sprinting down the main path. As she approached the hill that marked the town limits, she saw a little brown haired girl pop out from behind a tree. “Bryna Anne! I thought you weren’t going to show.”
“Hush! You don’t need to be shouting my name for the whole world to here.” Bryna draped her arm around her best friend’s shoulders, and pulled her back into the dark cover of the trees. “And of course, I was going to show. Honestly, Liza, do you really think that I would miss this?”
“No. Not really,” Liza smiled a great gapped tooth grin. Liza and Bryna weaved carefully through the forest to their usual spot. They climbed up the tree to the thick branch that they could sit on side by side. From there, they could watch easily.
It was late, so the army didn’t march in formation. The where in their own territory and there wasn’t anyone around to impress, so they marched in quiet jagged lines, people swapping places seemingly at random, heads close to their neighbors as they whispered and joke. Even in the low light, their uniforms seemed to give off a glow, that blue aura that Bryna gaped at as a child. She’d always liked it better when the Army was in town, but now—
“I see him!” Liza whispered, grabbing Bryna’s arm with one hand and pointing with her other. “It’s Kiley! I see him!”
Bryna followed her finger carefully, and there he was—red hair long and disheveled. The first thing that was going to happen in the morning was their mother was going to tut and set him down in the chair in front of the file place and go at him with a pair of scissors. He would complain the whole time that none of the other soldiers had their mother’s cut their hair, but Bryna knew he loved the attention.
“He’s safe,” Bryna laughed to herself, relief washing over her, “I’m so glad that he’s safe.”
Bryna and Liza watched them march until the stopped to make camp out of town. They would march in tomorrow, all proper uniforms and neat ranks. Bryna and her mother would be at the front lines to greet their brother and son coming home, for now anyway. But Bryna could rest easy tonight, knowing that her brother was safe and sound just outside the town boarders.