Make Belief Studios ~

December 8, 2007

chapter 06

Filed under: 01 Into the Hive, Gilded Providence, Story, WIP — Tags: , , , — Saturday @ 11:35 am

It was another warm day and birds were singing to each other like broken records. Occasionally even screeching like a skidding needle.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had this much free time.
Well, technically I had nothing but free time since I left home, but I was always on the move. I had to get to my next destination before a deadline. Before dark, before I got hungry, before a farmer decided to look for whoever took a shortcut through his garden and creatively made jack-o-lanterns of his prized watermelons. This time I had to wait before I could move to my next destination. Makes me wonder whether there’s a difference between “deadline” free time and “waiting” free time.
Whatever.

In boredom, I even began resorting to childhood games. I’d been poking at a line of ants behind Tremarch’s house for at least 15 minutes. I had already made myself a lovely tiara out of some bendy branches from a berry bush. The local terrain had made my shoes almost as muddy as Tremarch’s boots.
Geez, old man. It wouldn’t take a month to get ready if you would actually leave your shed and get some work done.

A light bubbling in the air came from the river, a few paces behind the bushes surrounding the rear of the house. I could hear a fish jump every once in a while, snapping at whatever dumb bug might have gotten too close to the water. There wasn’t much of a breeze that day, but the shadows of the trees kept the ground cool and moist.

On the back of my hands, I could see mud prints curling up from my palms. I really don’t like the gritty feeling of dirt, but unless I locked myself indoors, it was pretty much impossible to stay clean. Springing up from my squatting position, my dress swayed itself straight, and I trudged through the bushes towards the river.

The river wasn’t really big, hardly even river size. It bent behind clumps of trees, so I couldn’t see how far it went, but it was only a couple strides across, and only got about waist deep. Which was plenty deep for Tremarch, I suppose.

I tucked my dress back behind my ankles and knelt down by its side. The dark, cool water flowed like liquid steel against my hands and between my fingers as I scrubbed the dirt away. A cluster of small yellow berries hung down from my tiara and bounced in the corner of my eye.
Sigh.
The water flexed and twisted beneath my gaze and a long face with skinny whiskers stared back at me.
A what?
“Eeeeeeeeeeek!” A pale green streak launched out of the water and viciously attacked my face! Between several high pitched yelps I shook my head back and forth.

What is it?! What is it?! It doesn’t matter! Just get off!

Cold wet slime was splattering against the sides of my face and I threw my head as hard as I could towards the ground. A slight snap and my tiara flung out in front of me. A catfish the size of my forearm bounced towards the river. My eyes were wide and my bangs sprawled towards the sky. Panting, I tried to catch my breath.

I could’ve sworn that was a real face!

With a huff I whipped my blouse up and rubbed my slime coated face in it. The rough cloth burned over my skin as it scantly absorbed the slippery film. I forced myself up and stomped over to my limp lying tiara.

Not only did I feel violated, but I had the strangest notion that that fish had tried to mug me. Which I guess it did, since it was after the berries of my tiara. The point, I mean, is that even though it was an animal, I felt strangely offended!

I scooped up the yellow spotted twist of branches and dropped them in a pocket along the hip of my blouse.
No more fish are going to rob me of my nature crafts!
Stumbling a step, I went back to the house.

Tremarch was sitting on the house porch, staring solemnly into the forest. A smile floated across his face when he noticed me approaching.
“Are you still sitting around?” Oops. That sounded a bit arrogant. “Was something here?” I noticed the ground in front of the house was more chewed up than normal. Like something heavier than me and Tremarch had scuffled across it.
“Aye. My client was just here. Charioted in from town. Says that he’ll be needing double the order this coming shipment.”
“Oh?” There was still something rather hollow about Tremarch’s expression. “Is that a bad thing?”
“Not at all, m’dear. I was just worried that my client might not take kindly to the idea of me having a guest staying with me at the cabin. Thought I was right found out when you screamed back there, but luckily the horse heard before the man. Decided it best to turn round and go home to calm ‘im down. Very lucky.”

I wasn’t aware that this was such a big deal. What could these people who hired Tremarch have against him lending his house to the needy? I guess Tremarch did say that these people specifically chose this location for him to work, but what reason would they have to isolate him?

The trees waved in the breeze.
“Sally?”
“Uh huh?” I’d gotten used to that name now. How the heck would I break to him that it’s not my real one?
“If you don’ mind me askin’, where have you come from? Who might your parents be?”

“Hehh?” I wasn’t expecting this. I’d already given him a fake name, I decided I might as well answer honestly this time. “I’m from a small, spread out village to the east. I’m not sure exactly where from here, since I was walking a long time before entering this forest. My parents are simple, I guess. We used to grow grapes and make crafts to sell.” Detailed, yet vague— the perfect answer!
“What caused you to decide to leave home and journey out here?”
Why the sudden interest?
“Nothing complicated, really!” I smiled nervously and waved my hands in innocent gesture. “I just wanted to see more of the real world, never having left the village and all. That and I wanted to get away from mom and dad. Typical teenager, right?” I tried to laugh the conversation to an end.

“Sally.” Tremarch looked serious. “I wonder if you wouldn’t give me a hand with my work. It is a double order.”

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