Obligatory Flashback: Achievement Unlocked!
Michelle plucked an apple from a tree before heading for the barn. She took a bite. The apple was crisp and sweet, not mealy. She crunched it while she walked. Some of those apples would make a good a pie. If she had flour to make a crust. And sugar. And butter. And a number of other ingredients....
The barn was a classic. Painted bright red, with wide double doors currently standing closed. To one side was a fenced pen containing several hogs. A handful of chickens roamed freely. There had to be a coop somewhere around but Michelle didn't see it at the moment.
She paused at the sight of several goats, also roaming freely.
Michelle stood over Belle, one of the goats she'd helped Ceirdwyn feed and care for over the last year. The sword Ceirdwyn had loaned her felt slippery in her hands. Her breath came faster than it ought, and a knot in her belly refused to relax. "Why am I doing this, again?" Michelle asked.
"Two reasons," Ceirdwyn replied. "I'm teaching you to fight for your life. You're pretty good now at sparring. But sparring is nothing like actually fighting. Real combat is bloody and dirty and unpleasant. You need to get used to that. Second, you're of a generation who grew up thinking meat comes wrapped in plastic from the supermarket.
"It doesn't. It comes from animals, living animals that are killed and butchered. You need to know how to do that. You may not always have the luxury of buying your food."
Michelle knew all that. She just didn't like facing it. She looked at Belle again. She swallowed hard and raised her sword. "Michelle," Ceirdwyn said.
Michelle glanced at her, hoping she was about to be reprieved.
"Don't let your squeamishness make this harder for Belle. Do it cleanly."
Michelle nodded jerkily. She focused on Belle and raised the sword....
It had been remarkably easy--physically. The blade had sliced through Belle's neck with ease. The goat never knew what hit her. Michelle had gagged, then turned away and retched at the sight of all that blood, and from the knowledge of what she'd done. Ceirdwyn had known what she was doing when she didn't let Michelle eat breakfast.
Ceirdwyn waited patiently for her to finish, then began instructing her in the fine art of butchery. Michelle had hated it, and Ceirdwyn for making her do it, for a few days. But the lesson had sunk in. When the time came that Michelle had to butcher any of these animals, she could and would.
But not today. Today she explored the barn, where she found several cows waiting with evident impatience to be milked. "Poor dears," she said, petting one. She found a small stool and a stack of empty pails, sparkling clean and possibly never before used.
She settled in next to the nearest cow and began milking.