Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Traveling Through the Mist

"Stay near me, Penny. This summer mist will get heavier as we descend into the valley. I don't want to lose my girl."

"Yes, Papa." Penny chose her steps carefully, treading over the moss-covered stones. She trotted along, nearly running in a effort to keep up with her father's long stride. Penny paused here and there to inspect a delicate flower or swath of new green moss and then jogged ahead, falling into the wake of her father's steps.

Listening to the chatter of the boys behind her, she smiled to herself. They're always talking about wild beasts and curious creatures, about how brave they would be in a hunt. But I would bet my grandma's opal pendant that they would turn tail and run at the first sight of a Daonna. Then we'd know who it is that carries true courage in their hearts. Penny was stirred from her thoughts by a rustling in the brush somewhere along the path and she froze, clutching her father's hand.

"It's just a rabbit, Penny. See there, it's headed back into the bushes. Perhaps back to her babies." Papa smiled and squeezed her hand before continuing down the trail. Penny peered into the darkness under the verdant bush and was startled by two glowing orbs staring back at her. The eyes blinked causing Penny to stumble back and land in the dirt. Jumping to her feet, she dusted off her backside and, with a final look at the rabbit's warren, ran to catch up with the group as they passed around a bend.

The mist closed in around Penny as she scurried along. The trees loomed high over her head, disappearing into the low-lying clouds that hung heavy in the air, blocking out the faltering rays of the summer sun. Shivering, Penny climbed up on a mossy log and squinted, trying to make out the silhouettes of her traveling partners. They had disappeared.

Penny blinked, tears burning her eyes. They're just up ahead. If you stay to the path, you will find them. Jumping off the log, she darted along the trail, straining her ears for her father's voice but she heard only her pounding heart. Suddenly she skidded to a stop and turned around.

Coming through the mist a giant shadow towered over her. A Daonna trod along the path, his boots thudding on the dirt path, twigs snapping under his heavy tread. Dashing out of his way, Penny took refuge under a leaf of a trailing ivy plant that had taken root in a boulder's fissure. Her pixie wings quivered and then, chancing discovery, she took flight, zipping between the trees, searching for her father and brothers.

"Daonna! Daonna!" she squeaked as she tumbled at their feet, pointing behind them. The traveling party ducked into the safety of a hollow log just as the giant lumbered past.

"My courageous, lucky Penny," her father whispered, smoothing her tussled hair. "Those humans can be dangerous."

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

“Why is summer mist romantic and autumn mist just sad?”
― Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle


500 words inspired by the above picture and the words "summer mist" from the quote above. I was also inspired by a hike we took last spring along a similar path. As we stopped for a water break, my eyes caught sight of miniature pixie homes hidden among the mossy logs, delicate flowers and tall grasses. No pixies, though...they're excellent hiders.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Neighborhood Watch

Well now, Officer, I don't know. Let me think. You don't mind if I have a seat do you? These old bones don't hold me up like they used to. Just shove that stack of magazines off to the side and rest yourself. Ahh...that's much better. 

I pride myself on knowing my folks and I don't imagine that anyone living here would've done such a thing as that. My husband and I started overseeing this building forty years ago. After he passed, my grand boy came to live with me and help keep the place up, but I still mind the people.

Let's see now, there are "The Bobbsey Twins" up on the seventh floor. Of course, that's just what I call 'em. They're a mischievous pair. They think they've fooled these old eyes by pretending there's just one of 'em living in that studio apartment, but I know there's two of 'em sharing the space. They might think their matching freckles and ponytails have fooled me, but one hums and the other chews her nails to the quick. However, I don't think they'd do such a thing. They don't cause any trouble, they're just poor.

Then there's Mr. Faraz. He was a professor for years. He's very private; I don't know that we've spoken more than a handful of words, but he's always polite, bowing and smiling. He's up on the fifth floor. You'll know his place by the smell of curry wafting out into the hall.

I know it couldn't be Mr. Pelko on the fourth floor. He hasn't been out of his apartment since he moved in. He has a terrible disease. What's that called? Agora-something-or-other. Poor soul. He hired Danny to shop for him and run errands. Best thing that could have happened to that sweet boy. Seeing as his father doesn't seem to much care about what happens to him, at least Mr. Pelko looks after him. They're good for each other.

There's that young couple up on the second floor, but they have their hands full with that new little girl. Oh, they longed for a baby for years and years. It broke my heart to watch them pine away for a little one, knowing they would be such good parents. Finally they adopted sweet Kotahi. I once heard another tenant remark that she was "damaged goods", what with her limp. Made me so angry, I refused to renew their lease. She's their little princess, she is.

Of course, Old Lady Robel wouldn't have done it. She's too busy with her birds in the courtyard. She shuffles down to her bench every morning with her pockets full of birdseed. I can always tell where she's been, following the little trail of seeds she leaves behind. She's lonely, but for the company of her little feathered friends.

Then there's...what's that? Well, if you've gotta go, I'll keep your card here. And I'll keep my eyes open for any curious characters.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.


500 words inspired by the above picture and the cozy-noseiness of neighbors. I was struck by the thousands of stories tucked away behind those windows and how they might be woven together.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Rite of Passage

Orman heard the twig snap under his boot and froze. The sudden sound startled a family of starwings in a nearby tree, sending them to flight. Orman grimaced. Heart thudding, he slowly exhaled and took another tentative step. Orman listened for a moment, but the Boska Forest was silent again. Relieved, he tightened the strap on his pack and resumed his cautious trek between the towering copac, skirting their roots that threatened to entangle his steps.

To his left, briefly illuminated amidst the shifting shadows, Orman spotted the silver vine, partially buried under fallen leaves. Approaching the clearing, he slowed his steps and carefully surveyed the surrounding landscape. Convinced he was still alone, he knelt by the mysterious cord and removed his glove. Taking a deep breath, he placed his hand on the vine and then abruptly pulled away, stumbling backward. The vine pulsed. It was alive.

The hoarse cry of a tulang from somewhere overhead startled Orman again and he sprang to his feet. As the massive bird took flight, Orman chided himself. Too many tales about the terrors of the Boska Forest have made you soft. The stories told around the evening fire are only that. Stories. You're no longer a boy. Or at least you won't be after today. Orman peered into the gloom and allowed his eyes to trace the vine as it disappeared into the forest. He knew he was close now that he had found the salapi vine. All he had to do was follow it to the heart of the forest and claim his prize. And then return to the village, of course. With one last look over his shoulder, Orman set off to complete his task, following the silver cord deep into the forest.

Jogging through the trees, Orman leapt back and forth over the salapi vine as it wandered over the path through the copac trees. As he stopped to catch his breath, he marveled at the silver vine. What sort of creature awaited him at the end? Images filled his mind, frightening creatures brought to life around the crackling evening fire, woven together by the village storyteller: the borgue, the vulturan, the kalaman. But, what about Styrga the Bold or Mirmark the Strong? Orman reminded himself. They conquered their fears and the creatures of forest. Their blood courses through your veins.

A shout from somewhere ahead stirred him from his thoughts. He recognized the voice as belonging to Remere, his boyhood friend. Unable to discern if the cry was one of victory or fear, Orman broke into a run, his pack thumping on his back, stumbling over the salapi vine as he navigated the last few yards to the heart of the forest.  Breaking through the wall of copac, Orman was stunned by the sight. His veins turned to ice as he realized the fireside stories were true.

Clenching his jaw, the young hunter drew his dagger and charged the beast. And joined the legends of the evening fire.

Image courtesy of Unsplash.


500 words inspired by the above picture. This is my first attempt at something akin to fantasy. It was a challenge, but fun to write outside my comfort zone.