Meera wonders if she could use her hands as he does. If she could play god and be the creator of the garden, instead of only the moon. Forever watching high up in the sky from her tower window. Doing nothing but rising and setting, reflecting the sun’s brilliance but never daring to cast any light of her own.
The gardener works with his hands. It’s strange how watching him is like watching a man work with his hands for the very first time in her life. Like watching spring blossom after twelve years of hard winter snows. He digs in the dirt and never wipes his fingers on his tunic. His whole body drips sweat, but he makes no move for the shade. He’s not allowed to, she supposes. Locked into his duties.
Meera glances over her shoulder to her ladies in waiting, bound to this tower with her. Sewing, reading scripture, tending the fire or their lady’s curls. Each locked into her duties, as Meera is herself. Though she’s very well aware of the freedom she has. She can walk the grounds if she so chooses. She can pluck flowers and keep them, for the gardens are hers. She can visit the chapel on a whim or request that the ladies take her hair down and fix it some other way. Everyone else must act around her or her family.
But under the guise of freedom she is held fast to these grounds and pays a daily price for the acceptance of her sex as being the weaker. The fragile. The delicate. The fair.
They tell her that her monthly cycles will start soon. She will be a woman. Her body will follow the moon as the tides do. This is what makes the moon more than just the midnight sun, but also a friend. A midwife and sister. She brings blood, water and life. Watching the garden now, Meera longs to ask if this means that the sun takes life, but she learned long ago that ladies do not speak unless spoken to. It was something she found difficult as a child. She’s rather good at it now.
Even the ladies and gentlemen of court remark what a good wife she will make, how well she has been brought up in the arts of ladyship. She is so very well-groomed and pretty and obedient. Meera occasionally overhears people making the same remarks of the best trained ponies and hunting hounds.
“See how perfectly this one’s been broken in? Every bit of fight worked out for him. He’ll never go anywhere. Never look right or left. We’ll get a good penny for him when we sell him to breed.”
"See how still she sits when we brush her coat. Have you ever seen such a fine specimen?”
Meera wonders how much they’ll get for her. A treaty, perhaps? A kingdom? Warships and men to row them. Maybe they’ll buy time or barley for her father’s people. Maybe no one will want to pay anything for her at all.
It’s sort of funny how that last is the most comforting thought among the lot.