(The beginning's at the end...)
Just after sunrise, and seagulls wheeled and screeched overhead, rising and dipping in the shifting air currents. She smiled wearily and waved as the black beater chevy with the broom handle wedged in its tailgate rattled heavily over the ferry loading ramp, to make its first drop off in the nearest major city.
“Shoulda strapped that bundle into the truck bed. That payload’s gonna roll.” She turned back to the lake, took aim, and lobbed her last fistful of magic pebbles at the the gulls. By will and wisdom, she had the last laugh.
She dragged his body, heavy from too much wine and elixer from the pebbles of Lethe, over the chevy’s tailgate and threw a rug over him. He would be chilly once he woke up and, confused about the emptiness of his memory of the past three months, he would need some creature comfort.
She chuckled wryly, grateful for her preference for short, slightly-built men...it made situations like this one much more manageable. Shawn would be waiting by the ferry landing to finish the job. She slid behind the wheel and coaxed the engine awake.
“I lurve you more than life itself,” he chanted, crossing his eyes comically. “I will never, ever, let you leave my sight, for you were made for me!”
She took a small sip from a jelly jar of cabernet, and pushed the half-empty bottle in his direction. He had refused to take her hints that it was over, and even a direct statement went unheard. He was beginning to frighten her.
“Seriously,” he clumsily grabbed her chin, “I will never let you go.”
She knelt in the rich loam at the edge of the trickle of water. Tiny, but powerful, the stream was said to be directly sourced from the underworld kingdom. Those mindful and wary of legend and practice could safely draw upon these powers to effect small changes, when other, more direct methods had failed.
“By thy will and thy quiet strength, I implore your aid,” she whispered, as she submerged her hand, palm up, in the sulphur-scented water. “You who know the true wishes of my heart, guide me to the clearest path.”
The stream belched forth a scarlet frog, which hopped into her palm, its throat swelling softly with each breath as it held her gaze.
She lifted the frog toward the dark canopy of trees, “By thy will and wisdom.”
When she lowered her palm, it held only tiny, scarlet pebbles.
She stepped out of the outdoor shower, skin raw from the hard-bristle brush and ivory soap, and hard water run so long it had grown cold. Whippoorwills warbled from the nearby meadow and a single woodpecker drummed on old forest, filling and warming the early morning silence. It was this, more than the shower, that made her feel clear and pure in purpose. She would visit the hidden stream tonight.
She had to start making smarter choices.
Liz Husebye Hartmann
Pam Brittain’s Challenge: Write a story about anything you can think of. The catch is, the story must hop, skip and jump backwards.