Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January Wordsmith's Speed Challenge

One small thing


Down the dirt path back of the barn and over the hill, in a little glen by the side of Lick Creek was the place I spent much of the summers of my youth. Country life is a busy life in the mornings, but once the milking was done, the milk scalded and put up to cool, the butter churned, the chickens fed, the laundry hung to dry, and the breakfast dishes wiped and put away, there wasn’t much to do ‘til dinnertime, and so I’d wander down to the one cool place on all the prairie and spend long hours there in the quiet of overhanging willows.

It’s possible to have a personal relationship with nature, if you spend enough time getting to know one place, the small secret corners and wide-open obviousness. It got so I’d know how much rain we’d had the night before from the smell of the stream as it slid past. It rained every single night back then, not like nowadays when rain comes down any old time. Lots of things have changed since then.

Back then there were amazing critters you don’t see anymore. As a girl I watched megachigs and uberants digging holes the size of dinner plates into the damp streambanks, looking for food or something to fight. One summer I caught a furmoth. His silken fur shone, his gleaming eyes glittered my reflection as I stroked his head. His burly legs were elephantine, his back broad as a pig’s. His long tongue would curl out between the cage bars, touching my hands when I brought melons for dinner.

That summer I tamed him and we started flying. The first attempts were shaky and short, but soon he was carrying me over miles of fields, swooping low and brushing the tops of the corn with our feet, spraying pollen every which way. We were free as birds, or, I suppose, moths.

One latesummer day we set out to find the edge of the vast Halfdome that covered our sky and protected our world from The Nothing. Over many hours of flying, the land turned from farm to desert, then to black rock. Dreadful excitement throbbed in my head as we got close enough to touch it. The sea-deep glass was so cold it made me scream, which spooked my poor mount. His wings clattered on the Dome. There was a chinking sound, followed by the smell of stars coming through the tiny crack he’d made. My blood ran cold, icy dread swamped my bowels. A crack in the Dome! This was beyond horrific. My mind spun as I kicked the furmoth’s sides, flying home fast full of desperate fear. Once home, I told no-one of what had occurred, hoping fiercely that everything would be fine. Just one tiny crack, how bad could it be? Nothing please change because of one small crack, I prayed. Please let everything be fine.

That night, there was no rain. Nothing’s been the same since then.


For the Wordsmiths.

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