The woman began to shake. I took her towards the stairs and up through the laundry room floor. Leaving her there would be cruel but I couldn’t sacrifice my family’s safety. Putting my arms on her shoulders I guided her to the computer chair in our basement office/playroom. Her eyes wide as she took in the technology and mixture of furnishings, toys, and books.
“What danger is this?”
“I must return.” She stood but I shoved her back down. “Hush, my children are sleeping.” Sighing, I began to pace a few steps. “What is your name?”
“Ree. Please, I must go.”
“Ok, Ree. Who was chasing you and why.” Still pacing with eyes hard on her slight nose, a slight flare at the nostrils.
“The Cavels keep the Myster’s decrees.”
“I don’t know what shurf . . . ples . . ”
“Oh, no you don’t. Not till I know my family is safe. Why are these Cavels after you? What did you do?”
“I tuk a shurtcut through tha Myster’s forest. They came out on their horses, I on foot. They act like dog vomit lickin’ up vileness. To them lone female like me is game to hunt if found in the forest. They’de pass me palm ta palm till I’m dead. They’re worse n’ dreys.”
“Wild, large, fur the color of storm clouds, they cry to the sky in ear piercin’ song.”
“Wolves?” I grabbed a nearby nature book from the bookshelf, found the picture and showed Ree.
“Yes,” her eyes frightened, “How was this allume made?”
“This picture is from a camera . . . a machine, ” I pointed to the computer which probably added to her confusion, “that captures . . .never mind.”
“I must go.” She stood and stepped into the laundry room, a lost look about her. “Do you know where my grandmother is?”
“I’ve heard she is dead. . . I’m sorry. She left many things here.” From the bookshelf I took an old book that came with the house. I’d kept it because it looked old and I liked books. This one was filled with an odd type and old-fashioned art–fairy tales, maybe. I’d only looked at it twice and I put it up high because I didn’t want the kids to tear it. The words were like old English or Shakespeare and I didn’t feel like interpreting them. So I let it sit. I remembered the old tin box of buttons I had in the laundry room. Passing Ree I went to fetch it. I gave the book and the tin of buttons to her. She opened the tin, tears filling her eyes, “I used ta play wi these sveerners. They were diff”rent than what others in Resoun use to gather their clothes.” She closed the tin and examined the book half laughing. ” My grand father gave this to grandmother. He said the stories ha’ secrets. She loved these, she’d whisper them ta me. I don’ remember any secrets. Just stories. He was killed ’cause he knew secrets. I don’ want this.” She gave me the book back.
“Stay here. Let me get my husband Kal and we can figure out how to get you safely home.”
She laughed. “No. I will stay at my grandmother’s till dawn and then go home on tha main road. No more shurtcuts. Pokey, my husband, is in the ranks. He would be furious with tha Cavels. Curse ’em. ” She explained how she and her two boys lived with her parents at the edge of their town. apparently it was a deep valley that was surrounded by rocky cliffs. A river ran through it. Most of the poor lived among the cliffs in caves or dirt and rock huts called teedles. The wealthy had stone houses with large chimneys called puffers. The Myster–Myster Vaper was like a lord over the area and he lived out of the valley with a house of high walls and three levels. The Cavels were supposed to protect Resoun but they mostly protected themselves as long as Myster Vaper didn’t need them for his own needs.
The High King was so far from Resoun he only took men for his army every spring. They served five years, all males over 20. Few ever returned like her father who made shoes, and grandfather who cut stone. He had repaired the Myster’s house, that’s when he got the book.
We descended the stone steps through the floor and went up the steps to see the door in the ceiling to the cottage. The handle opened with ease and up we went looking about to make sure all was secure. The cottage was unchanged. Not even muddy boot prints. We opened the door and saw footprints up to the door and all around the cottage. The prints moved towards the stream and into the forest. Ree examined them and then headed for the cottage. I touched her shoulder before I descended into the floor. After the door was closed it disappeared except for a faint outline. The book in my hand was warm. “Secrets,” she had said. I wonder what secrets. Yawning I climbed onto the laundry room floor closing the door behind me and watching the handle disappear. It was 3 am and I had to get to sleep . . .if I wasn’t dreaming already.
- Depth Life (abundantnurturing.wordpress.com)