Rein rushed in after his fighting practice. As always he was eager to tell anyone and everyone about the events of the lesson. As he opened the door he collided with Taina, on her way out to get some food.
“Sorry, Maina! No! Taina! Sorry! I did not see you there!” He called back to her.
Taina sighed gently. She never complained about anything, always happy and content with life. However, she did not know how much longer she could take this. Rein meant well, she never imagined that he did not. And she was very flattered that he thought she was like Maina, who she had greatly admired and loved. But she could never be Maina, she was Taina, she could only be Taina. Not Maina.
Time and time again she had pushed these thoughts to the back of her mind, yet they kept returning, and each time they returned they were darker and harder to push away. Every day she was fighting a losing battle. How many more days could she take of this torture before the thoughts finally overflowed?
Shaking the thoughts out of her head, Taina went down to the horses. Rein’s new horse, Lohomane, was standing by Siné. He was a war-horse, strong and proud. Taina stood for a while, comparing the two horses. They were not complete opposites. Neither of them complained about their work, and they were both very nice horses. Siné looked old and withered next to the tall Lohomane. Taina stroked Siné thoughtfully.
“Come on Siné. We have work to do, you and I. Some of us were born to do different work from others.” She murmured.
Rein stroked Lohomane.
“This is it.” He said softly. “This is our test.”
Rein was going for his first few days away as an esquire of the Mark. The esquires had been each assigned to éoreds with whom they would be fighting and helping with food and other small jobs. Before the Long Winter of 2758 Rohan had become overrun with enemies. Enemies were still present in the land. Rein was looking forward to chasing them out.
Taina looked at her brother as he sat on Lohomane. He was wearing their father’s old armour. It was highly polished. Rein looked so grown up, so distant. This was a part of Rein’s life that Taina was not a part of. He did not even feel like her brother anymore. Just a stranger, with whom she had casually exchanged a few words. She knew nothing about this side of him.
Over the course of the next year Rein went away a few more times. Each time he returned he seemed more distant from Taina and her mother than the last. He never talked about his experiences to them, saying only that they `were not for the ears of women’. He spent more and more time with the other riders and he barely spoke when he was at home.
It was during the year after that Rein was eventually made to see how much this was affecting his mother and his little sister. He never would have realised the extent of it. His mother was growing weaker and weaker. Her illnesses were lasting for longer and longer periods of time. They had become almost unbearable for Taina, who would sit by her at night, watching over her as she cried out to the two daughters and husband she had lost all those years ago. Tears would run down her cheeks like little rivers. What haunting dreams she became lost in Taina could never make out, or find out. For, whenever her mother woke up, she remembered nothing.
Taina had kept quiet about these illnesses because she did not know what effect they might have on Rein. He, after all, had the full experience of Helm’s Deep. He had been there when Maina and Kaina had died. Not too long ago he had had some similar dreams. She did not want those to return. However, as a direct result of this, Rein never knew the full extent of his mother’s illness.
Taina was tired, having stayed up all night with her mother. She busied herself in the kitchen area. After a while Rein came in. He sat down on a chair without saying `hello’ to Taina. He was half lost in his dreams of when he might be a mighty warrior and do many heroic things. Taina put a bowl of food in front of him.
“Thank you Maina.” He said distantly.
Taina never knew what caused her to lose her temper as she did. Maybe it was because of her lack of sleep, she did not know.
“I am not Maina!” she said quietly, deadly.
Rein was suddenly fully aware of everything that was going on.
“Oh, yes, sorry Taina.” He replied carelessly.
Taina whipped around.
“Is that all? You mistake me for a sister who has been dead for nearly eight years almost everytime you talk to me! And all I get is a careless apology! When are you going to realise I can never be Maina!”
Rein was shocked, he had never seen or heard Taina like this.
“Oh … well … I am very sorry, I did not realise …”
Taina cut him off.
“There are a lot of things you do not seem to realise, Rein! For one thing, you do not realise how much it upsets mother when you do not talk. She thinks you are angry with her. Night after night I have sat with her, listening to her call out to you for forgiveness. She is very ill for a lot of the time now, but you never seem to care! She cries out to father, Maina and Kaina, asking them to come back. You did not know any of this! There is one reason only, you never talk to me! And when you do, you call me Maina!”
Taina’s voice had got higher and higher as all of her anger came spilling out. She stood, catching her breath, her face red, watching Rein. Suddenly she seemed less like Maina and more like Rein himself. Rein could not think of a word to say to her. He could now see things from Taina’s perspective. All he could think of was one thing. A voice was playing in his head, round and round.
“Look after mother and Taina.”
He had failed. He had failed Maina, he had failed his mother and he had failed Taina. Unwanted tears came to his eyes. Taina was suddenly by him, with her arm around him.
“I am sorry, I did not mean …” she said quietly.
“No, you were right. I have been ignorant. Is mother still ill?”
Taina nodded. Rein made his way to the small room in which his mother slept. He sat down by the bed and put his hand on her arm.
“Mother, I am so sorry.” He said gently.
A silent thought followed it.
“Forgive me, Maina.”