TITLE: For Sparta
GENRE: Historical Women's Fiction
Her mother's words echoed in the dark of the bedchamber, athough they had been uttered weeks before. Be happy for him. Or act as though you are. Melaina's duty was made quite clear on that day during the month of Karneios when she and her brother turned seven. For that was the age Niko would leave forever with the army and train to be a soldier. Now, that day had come. And now, her duty haunted her.
Melaina squirmed on the hard floor and leaned her sweaty back against the wall. The summer air hung heavy in the room, hot as a brazier being fed fresh coals. But it wasn't the heat that had kept her awake for so long. She had sat on the floor all night, avoiding her bed and hoping to avoid sleep. The same nightmare about her brother had invaded her dreams the last two nights in a row, and she wouldn't chance it again. Was it an omen? She swiped at her wet cheeks.
Be happy for him. Or act as though you are. Those were her two options, her obligation to her brother and to Sparta. Yet while the first rays of dawn pierced the black night like the bronze of her father's spear, Melaina failed miserably at both.
She sniffed, halting Niko's snores across the room. He sat up and rubbed sleep from his eyes. Never again would she see that familiar head of loose dark curls before anyone else in the household.