The condemned man said nothing; instead his brown eyes searched the crowd as the noose was tightened. He caught the eye of a dark haired woman, neither young nor old, who returned his gaze with intensity. The two passed the remaining seconds until the gallows called its death toll, and the four men dropped – their bodies shaking in the high winds of the afternoon.
The crowd turned away, the entertainment of the day done. The crowd itself was meager; there were no murderers or thieves among the hanged. Debtors mainly, an embezzler - economic crimes never brought out the throngs. The dark haired woman followed the crowd, not wishing to bring more shame to herself than was already done.
Hours later, when her husband’s effects were being passed to her - his journal, his wedding ring, his clothing – did the full impact of the afternoon’s events come upon her. Her house, gone, and everything in it reclaimed … she vaguely heard the words of the official stating that she would be living in a workhouse for women in “similar states,” but all the dark haired woman could do was sigh.
She reluctantly climbed into a carriage with two other women, dressed like her in dark colors, which set off through Andorhal to their new accommodations. The three women stole furtive glances at each other’s faces. New widows all of them, disgraced, all of them, set off for a new life of hardship.
‘But wasn’t my life hard enough already?’ the dark haired woman thought to herself, running her thin hands over the dark skirt of her mourning dress.
That evening, over a dinner of bread and soup, the new faces in the workhouse said nothing to each other. They ate hungrily, almost like animals, sopping up the last dredges of their soup with the crusts of their bread. The seasoned residents laughed and carried on, already having made friends and lives post tragedy, they were long past mourning, shunning the remembrances of their past to a small table furthest from the hearth.
That night, under stiff sheets, the dark haired woman remembered.
She remembered holding her husband’s calloused hand in hers. Him sweeping her off her feet as they crossed the threshold to their home the first time.
She remembered their feet sc%!@@%@ across the dirty floorboards, as he hummed to her a tune. Her skirts twirling, he wrapped his arm around her small waist and pulled her in for a kiss.
She remembered winter mornings long after the fire had gone cold, the two of them using each other for warmth under the quilt. Sometimes making their own warmth where there was none.
“We have to make Light where there is none,” he said to her, “we may owe more than what we make to everyone in this cursed town, but we have one another. And you produce more Light than Azeroth itself could ever claim to have hold over.”
She tried not to sigh. The night of the workhouse was full of sighing women.