Monday, June 20, 2011

Challenge 35: A Place to Call Our Own

I can smell his musk on the breeze, a warm enveloping sense of calm. He is close. Through the muddy undergrowth, I run, savouring the kiss of afternoon sunshine as it pours down into the clearing I have chanced upon. Beauty is unspoilt in our wilderness. Here, anything is possible.

On the far side of the field of wildflowers, I pause beside a trickling creek. There are prints in the dirt, the shape of his toes as he leaped. The rain has just begun to drizzle down the back of my neck. In the distance, a hawk screeches as it swoops down to snatch up its prey. Where has he gone? The imprint of his passing begins to fill with water. Worms wriggle their way to the surface as the spitting becomes a torrent.

Sheltering in the hollow of our favourite tree, I feel like this circle, made by the umbrella of her drooping branches, is my whole world. I am safe and warm, wrapped up in his fur-lined leather coat and listening to the pounding of water outside. It was he who taught me where to go in a storm, how to build a fire of the dry twigs and logs we keep hidden here. I know I will find him, once this wild weather passes on. He can’t have gone far.

I drift into a gentle slumber, unfazed by the howl of the wolves. It is full moon tonight, but they will not bother me. I have my knife and know how to use it. Yet another thing he taught me.

My cheek resting against the rough bark, I dream of other days. Two miles north of here, at the base of the canyon, is a cave where we hid my new spear and a pile of nets I wove last autumn. He promised he would teach me to fish with it in spring, and Verdi’s eye is low on the horizon now, so winter is almost over. If I cannot find him by tomorrow, I will go there and wait. He always keeps his promises.

Dawn brings a frost. Blades of new grass crackle underfoot as I tip-toe out, not wanting to disturb the lively birdsong. Scanning the ground brings me new clues as to his direction. He’s headed west, judging by the lay of sticks beside the thorny brickle bush. It is a heady crawl, over a dead oak bough spanning the crevasse. He found it last year, after the big storm. It will be good as a bridge for many years to come.

He has left a bunch of wild blueberries on the other side, a reward for keeping up with him this far. I am eager to catch him up, though I know it is unlikely. I have never managed it yet, though he insists there’s a first for everything. Another day and my nose aches from the cold. My eyes are watering as I lie on my belly, peering over the cliff at the edge of the wastes. Is this what he wanted me to see? They are closer now than last I remember; dark, snaking pipes seeping black ooze as they suck the life from our wilderness. An owl hoots and I frown. It is not yet dusk, there should be no owls. I glance to my left and grin. There, tied to a low swung branch is a braided leather cord laced through a jade riverstone; a gift from my brother for completing his latest challenge. As I pull it over my head, I look for him, but there is, of course, no sign. I am a big girl now and there are many things I must do alone.

Wordcount: 619

Yay! I think this one is a bit closer to the brief - except for the part about using your own characters. I just made these two up on the spot.


  1. I know you better than that! You'll soon realise they're characters you've had all along :)

  2. Hehe I suppose you are right - I was immediately intrigued and wanted to know what they were doing in the forest and stuff... I love that about 3 am, you end up with so many seeds for stories.