Pythian Games

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Archive for the ‘Short Story Arena’ Category

Home Is Where The Heart Is

with 11 comments

by anita marie moscoso

Inspired By The Soul Food Cafe Writing Prompt

The Deserted Farm House

Back along on Deception Road is a little farmhouse that no one lives in.

After the house was built and then put up for sale the orchard out back died, the little vegetable garden died and all of the pumpkins and squashes and tomatoes rotted right on their vines.

Even the flowers in the window boxes shriveled up and turned to dust within a day or so after they were set out and all the little farmhouse could do was slam its doors open and shut and make the clock in its kitchen strike twelve over and over again.

The man who built the farmhouse, Travis Janosik, use to stand out at the road and wonder what the hell was going on in there, why was it that nothing could live near that place without giving up the ghost.

There was nothing about Travis that would make you say, ‘you know that killer house? The one on Deception Road? It was built by Travis Janosik” and the person you would be talking to wouldn’t reply, “ Well of course it was a strange house. Look who built it.”

No, the house turned bad all by itself and this bothered no one more then Travis. What bothered him most of all  happened when the house was two years old.

That’s when someone actually bought it and moved in.

The ‘someones’ who bought the farmhouse were the Korbar Family.

Travis use to drive out to Deception Road and park across the way from the Farmhouse and watch it. He’d see Darius Korbar working the vegetable garden or see him sitting on the porch with one of the many children he and Mrs. Korbar had and they acted like any other family living in those hills.

Unless of course you really watched them the way Travis did.

At first he had no interest in the Korbar family. His interest was in that house and what it was up to now. It didn’t have to settle for killing plants and the odd field animal that got to close to its walls. Now it had the Korbar children who scuttled around the property in their ill-fitting clothes.

At least that’s how it looked but then Travis realized it wasn’t the clothes that didn’t fit right, it was the bodies inside the clothes that weren’t right.

The children’s heads were to large for their small bodies and their hands and feet didn’t seem to be the same size and when they talked Travis felt the hair rising up on his arms and the back of his neck and that’s when he’d cut his daily vigil off.

Once Travis saw Mrs. Korbar come down the front steps with a tall glass in her hand and make her way to the garden to where Mr Korbar was working. She handed him the glass and he kissed her cheek and then she made her way back up the steps and Travis watched her but didn’t notice that as she climbed the steps her head was tilted slightly backwards and her back was straight as a pole and she never bent her knees.

It was like she was gliding up the steps and not walking up them at all.
Towards the end of the summer the gardens were dead and rotten and Mr Korbar was out there working it like it as if it were alive and thriving. The ground was water logged and moldy with green slime. The vegtables were rotting and decayed and you could actually smell it when the wind shifted.

On top of the fact that Travis was watching a man harvest from a garden full of rotten vegetables he was also sure that some of that smell was coming from Mr Korbar too.

Travis promised himself after that visit he wouldn’t go near the Farmhouse on Deception Road. Something was wrong with it, something was wrong with the people living inside of it and Travis was certain if he didn’t stop going over there something would be wrong with him too.

Of course, it was too late because that something had already happened to Travis and he found himself standing at the end of the drive leading right up to the Farmhouse the next day.

He was in plain view and Mrs. Korbar must have seen him from one of her windows because he wasn’t there for long before she came down the steps and met him with a basket of rotting carrots and maggot filled tomatoes on her arm.

“ We never got the chance to thank you for building this wonderful house Mr Janosik. Its perfect and we love it so.”

Travis was looking into the basket of dead and decaying vegetables and he said, “ How could you love it so? Nothing can live inside of that thing…”

And Mrs. Korbar said, “ Well, Mr Janosik nothing does…”

 

 Photo By: Littlejack

Written by Anita Marie

July 6, 2009 at 12:22 am

Circus Memories (5)

with 3 comments

Adjusting her satchel diagonally across her neck and shoulders, she found the wet coolness of the satchel’s outer material felt good.  Somehow, this day seemed a lot hotter than when she set out. The plastic lining of the satchel and the plastic zip bags should have kept everything within dry.

 

She scrambled up the embankment, as well as an overweight older woman could scramble, arriving at the top somewhat out of breath and with dirty sappy hands from grabbing at the shrubs for some balance.  She arrived at the top, repositioned her clothing and satchel.  Whew! Now, where am I? and where is that music coming from?

 

 She looked around and listened.  A path ran along the stream bank with the music seeming to come from the right.  OK, let’s go and see what we see.  As she ambled along the pathway, she took note of the trees and wild flowers.  Among the familiar flowers, some seemed to be those of the Ozarks, and some from her living in the Northeast.  But some were entirely different.

 

So very different!  Wonder what they are? On the way back, if there is a way back, I’ll look closer.  Follow the music.  Reminds me of the circus figures I made for Essie for Christmas.

 

 

I sure enjoyed researching, drawing then painting and cutting out the figures.  Fun designing what to use and how to do it.  Two layers of oaktag (now called poster board) glued together was the perfect thickness so the figures could stand up.  Tried to get the same stuff Dad had used on my set years ago, but no longer available. 

 

It was so nice to hear that Essie enjoyed playing with them.  She really enjoyed my putting her face on the horseback-rider’s body.  I remember all the fun I had playing with my figures Dad had made for me.  Now I was making circus figures for my granddaughter–the Wheel of Life.  So many good memories for me and I hope, for her.

 

The path moved away from the stream and now joined with another.  Three children were ahead, probably coming along the other path, hopping and skipping along.  The music was louder and now she could clearly hear the brass band playing marching music.  Anticipation and memory quickened her blood.  She remembered her first visit to a circus at Madison Square Gardens in New York City in the 1940’s.  The overwhelming sights and activities in the arena upstairs—truly a three-ring circus—and the overwhelming sights and smells while visiting the animals in the basement of the Garden.

  

 The whole trip into the City with my family was exciting: going on the bridges over water and into the tunnels under water to enter Manhattan.  So many new things to experience.  And the wonderful circus music making your body move like a puppet on a string.  She couldn’t help skipping and moving to the music she now heard. 

 

One of the boys stopped and turned around to look at her.  She could hear him say in the honest/cruel manner children sometimes have: “She’s old.  Why is she coming here?  And why is she skipping?  She looks silly.  Let’s get out of here.”  He grabbed the shirt of another child and they started to run away. 

 

Momentarily deflated, she hung back as they darted ahead.  Now it was her weight and her age that occasioned some ridicule for being different.   As a child it was being too skinny, dressed in mostly hand-me-downs from cousins, too shy and quiet.  Later it was being too good and smart, then having children and staying home to be with them instead of working, then… then… then… always something.  But now it doesn’t bother me the way it used to.  I know my own worth and why I was like that and the struggle to overcome all the odds.  I know who I am and where I am going.  Well, I may know the essence of who I am under all the who’s I can be, but I may not know where I am going right at this moment.

 

She came upon two objects nailed to a tree: one was a circus poster that caught her attention.    

 

 

 Yes, that is who I need to be right now.  A young girl who can skip and run and even… maybe…  ride a beautiful horse, just like that.  I always loved to ride horses, but I may be too large for one now.  But a young girl would be perfect, like Essie.

 

She moved off the path into a clearing behind some bushes.  Looking around, seeing no one, she closed her eyes and thought of her granddaughter’s face on the bareback-rider’s body: slim, young, agile and enough balance to stay on the horse as it pranced around the circus ring.  This will be great!   Finally a chance to really ride horses and yet be so graceful.  I see myself on a beautiful white horse, just like that one.  Flexible enough to leap from horse to horse yet mature enough to be responsible for the care of the horses.   Yes…

 

Yet as she could feel her body shift into its new shape, and the pounds drop off, she suddenly remembered the other sign on the tree.  “LEMURIA” 

 

What did that mean?

Written by thalia

June 15, 2008 at 1:09 pm

An Old-Fish Story (4)

with 4 comments

Where were they going?  And why are they all going together?

 

She turned around and scrambled even further along the ledge.  Many varieties swam by: trout, bass, crappie…   Oh, and there’s a catfish.  Don’t usually see them all together.  I wonder if there is a gar although they are not usually in fast moving streams but in brackish backwaters.  I remember being so surprised when I first saw an alligator gar and how it looked like an alligator with its long snout with a double row of needle-teeth in the upper jaw.  I read up about them and their average size of 3-7 feet.  That one reprint in the paper of 10-foot long gar caught in Mississippi in 1910 was amazing.   

 

Gars are a primitive species with fossils found going back to the Cretaceous period about 145 million years ago to about 70 million years ago. What would it be like to have a direct line back for so long? But they are so ugly.  That’s unkind.  I bet they consider themselves just fine, or even VERY fine.  And the gar would be large enough to carry my satchel.  Good thing everything is in plastic-zipped bags – just in case.  

 

She sat on the ledge, feet dangling into the water, well aware that if a gar was present it might bite her leg thinking it was a flopping fish.  Gars, so old yet still around and surviving well around here and further south.  Do they have awareness or any sense of who they are?  The skeleton picture of the gar showed teeth in a bit grin, or so it seemed.  Like the wolf dressed as the grandmother in Little Red Riding Hood.  What big teeth you have…

 

Before she realized, she slid into the water, satchel, scales and all.  Other fish darted away obviously aware that gars eat fish and even crabs.  She understood their reluctance to travel close but it still hurt her even though she knew gars were solitary fish.  She always seemed to want to connect with any and every thing.  She could sense the difference between “her” feelings of being different and the gar’s acceptance of being who he was.   

 

The slight wriggling motion of the gar swimming made her nauseous for a few minutes, then it felt natural and free.  It was much easier to move through water than to walk through air because of gravity.  And the rhythm of swimming was quite soothing.  The feel of the water as she glided through actually felt very sensuous on her skin/scales.  Do fish interpret that feeling as sensuous?  Maybe not, since they don’t know of anything else and know nothing to compare it to as I do.

 

She could see a narrowing in the cave wall where the fish were heading towards and then disappearing into.   Ok, here we go!  A dark passage with spotlights on the side, here and there, as sun shone through.  Possible outlets for springs.  Springs are a good source of wells for farmers and settlers.  Are any of these hot springs?  There are many hot springs that were used and still are, for healing and pleasure, in the Ozarks.  Even Native Americans gathered here to recover and bask in the warm, soothing waters.  

 

One sun-lit area loomed larger than the previously seen ones.  It was off to the right side where the main tunnel divided.  She decided to check that one out as she saw some fish heading over there.  She swam to the same area and was suddenly outside.    

She popped up close to the surface but still retained the gar body, remembering that gar have an air bladder so they can breathe air for as long as 2 hours.  Being close to the surface to draw in air also made them vulnerable as an easy target for bow-fishermen.  But she wanted to see if anyone was around before surfacing and shifting.  Seems clear. 

She wriggled onto the pebbly bank and checked to ascertain how well the air bladder worked.  As her tail, flipping her ashore, caught the light’s reflection, she thought of how some Native American tribes, like the Seminoles, Creek, Chickasaw, and Cherokee participated in ritual dances and song surrounding the gar, and many liked to collect the gar scales, which were hard like armor.

 

She lay still, now breathing air.  She watched and listened.  She could see the other fish moving along further with the current of the stream.  She could hear the sounds of water running over rocks and the usual forest sounds.  But what is that?  A hum—something else.  Just sounds like a humming  noise.  Maybe the gar can’t hear things above water the way humans would.

 

She allowed herself to change back into her regular form so as to listen better, even though she knew her hearing was getting worse.  But it still had to be better than the gar’s.  Sounds like chattering well off in the distance—people chattering and music.  What kind of music is that?  Not any popular music like country, rap, hip-hop, reggae, rock and roll, big band, or even classical. Whatever is that?  Sounds familiar in a way, in a sort of nostalgic way… like when I was a child… sounds like circus music! Real circus music!  Where am I anyway?  Where have I traveled  to?  And when have I gone to? Since I can’t go back against the current so might as well go on.  It’s been years, but I’m going to the circus!

 

Written by thalia

June 10, 2008 at 7:34 am

Forever

with 8 comments

“A circus! A circus is coming!” This was usually joyful news. Exotic animals, acrobats, people doing death-defying stunts high in the air, clowns frolicking and drawing laughs – this was the stuff that dreams were made of in tiny towns where everyone knew each other and things rarely changed.

In most towns, people flocked to the circus. They bought peanuts and popcorn and lemonade in paper cups, and they hung around the outside of the Big Top and watched the elephant keeper feed the elephants. They paid their coins and peeked in the tents of the sideshows and stared at the people who seemed so like them and yet looked so different.  They elbowed each other and joked that their Great-Aunt Edna was way fatter than the fat lady, or that this elephant wasn’t nearly so big as the one last year and you should have seen how fancy the costumes were in the circuses fifty years ago.

But in the town of Forever, people started fidgeting and muttering when the first circus posters appeared on the lamp posts, having been put up unseen, in the dark of the night. When flyers were found stacked by the school house doors, quick hands grabbed them and flung them into the nearest garbage can. And when the strains of the calliope were heard coming down the road, people locked and barred their doors. The circus paraded through a town of empty streets, its brightly painted wagons and carts reflecting off of closed window with the shades drawn tight. Not so much as a stray dog or cat crossed its path through the town.

Still the circus came, once every year, and set up its Big Top and sideshow tent and food stands and animal pens just over the hill on the outskirts of town – just close enough for the townspeople to hear the music and see the flags fluttering atop the tents. Three nights it played, whether there were warm bodies in the stands or not. Then in the middle of the night it packed up and hurried on its way, leaving only a trampled field where the animal pens had been.

 

 

“Do you think Mama and Papa will come to see us this year?” Lydia Amari of the Flying Amaris asked her older brother William as she adjusted her spangled tights before they bounded into the ring for their performance on the first night.

“No, of course not. You know they won’t. But Donald or Marian might, if they’re careful.” William was thinking of their younger brother and sister. Donald would be fifteen now, and Marian ten. “Donald might even come along this time. I know he’ll bring Marian if he can – she’s never come before.”

“I hope so. I wish we could see them, I mean really see them. I miss them a lot sometimes. I miss Mama and Papa, too. Do you think we could go into town and see them?”

Lydia had only been with the circus for a year, and for a sixteen year old, she did well. But she still missed her parents and the younger ones quite a bit.

Steven, the oldest of the Flying Amaris spoke up, “No. They won’t see you. I know. I tried my first year, too. They just keep the doors locked if anyone comes into town from the circus. You get used to it.” He shrugged, and then tensed as the ringmaster announced their act.

“And now, THE FLYING AMARIS!!!!”

Steven, William and Lydia bounded into the ring and climbed the ropes into the top of the tent. There was no more time to think of parents and siblings – they had to concentrate on midair somersaults and handoffs. After they came down and bowed out of the tent, Lydia peeked around to the side – there was a group of children peeking into a slit in the side of the tent, but she couldn’t see if Donald or Marian were among them.

 

The town was called Forever because nothing there ever changed. Oh, other towns might say they never changed, but Forever really meant it. In school, the children were taught to read, but only bland and boring things that made them never want to pick up a book full of other people’s thoughts again. And while they learned their one plus ones and twice times tables and learned to divide a pie into eight equal parts, they didn’t learn to work through algebra or geometry because these last required thinking, and thinking was scary for the people of Forever. Most especially, the children were never taught history. Children who learned history might try to do things differently from the way things had always been done and change history instead of simply repeating it day after day and year after year. So each generation in Forever did the same thing as the last, and things never changed. Except when the circus came to town, once every year.

 

“Donald, can we go tonight?” Marian Amari whispered to her older brother as they weeded the vegetable garden just before supper under the watchful eye of their mother.

“I think so. Be ready to slip out the basement window after Mama and Papa go to sleep. They can’t stay awake past eight even when the circus is here.” Donald whispered back and quickly moved over a row before their mother noticed them whispering and got suspicious.

Dinner was slow, and the rest of the evening even slower. Donald and Marian went to bed at eight, just as they always did, and so did Mama and Papa. As soon as Papa’s snores echoed down the hall, Marian crept from her bed and dressed quietly before she slipped down to the basement to Donald’s room. Donald was packing a knapsack with his clothing, a picture of the family, and his toiletries.

“Donald!” Marian hissed. “You aren’t leaving, are you?!” She looked like she was going to burst into tears.

“Yes, I am. All of the others left at fifteen, and so am I. There’s so much out there, Marian – a whole world. And I want to see it. It’s not like I’ll be alone – I’ll be with Steven and William and Lydia. And I’ll learn new things, and do things, and see things that no one in this poky little town ever dreamed about. It’s the circus, Marian, and it’s my one way out of here.”

Tears were running down Marian’s cheeks. She knew he was right. All of the others had left at fifteen, and if you didn’t leave when you could, then you didn’t leave, and you ended up doing the same thing as all the other generations of people had done forever, in Forever.

Sniffling, she let him boost her up through the window. They left it open so that Marian could get back through it when she came home again, alone.

 

As they crept along the night time streets, the two children could hear rustlings and quiet whispers as other children slipped out see the circus. Some of them, like Donald, were carrying knapsacks stuffed with the few things they wanted to salvage from their old lives. They made a silent throng as they made their way just over the hill to where the music was playing and the flags were waving.

Unseen, quiet hands pulled curtains back from darkened windows and tear-filled eyes peered out into the night as the children who could not be kept the same forever slipped away for a look at the rest of the world.

In the morning, life would go on as it always had, forever, but with a few less children, in Forever.

– She Wolf (c) 2008

Written by Jane

June 2, 2008 at 8:33 pm

Posted in Short Story Arena

Tagged with

TUNNEL OF HISTORY – 2

with 8 comments

 

I reach for a stone to drop down the well to check where the water level is.  The one I pick up is covered with seashell fossils from when these Ozark Mountains were under oceans millennium ago.  I place it in my satchel to add to the others I’ve collected.  It always amazes me that here, in the middle of the United States, there was once ocean.  Finding another plain stone, I drop it and listen.  No ‘splash’ of stone hitting water, but instead, the sound of ‘plop’ onto dirt.  OK, not a well but a tunnel as the stair-ladder indicates.  What else will I find?

  

Fixing the flashlight to attach to the side of my neck with the bandana I always carry and have used in this manner before, I free my hands for going down the narrow pieces of wood.  Turning around, I gingerly step backwards and down the first rung, using my arms to balance and thinking perhaps, I should get down on all fours and ease down.  I am no longer as agile as I once was.  I decide to use an overhanging branch as leverage to step down the second rung, then the third and fourth as I check for dry rot on each.  At last my hands can grab the wooden steps, trying to avoid splinters.  Finally my head drops below the level of the surface.  The flashlight shines brightly on the close earthen walls.

 

Ouch! What’s that?  My right hand gets cut as it moved to gain another purchase on the ladder.  An arrowhead!  When is this from?  I pry it out of the earth and examine at it.  As common as they are around here, I still thrill to unearth one.  Is it Osage, Caddo or Cherokee?  Hard to tell.  Could be from the very early days when many of the American Indian tribes criss-crossed this area either for hunting grounds or summer camps in the hills.  Or maybe from the Trail of Tears, or “the trail where they cried”, which passed through this area as over 1,000 Cherokees led by John Benge trudged through here in January of 1839.  I’ll put this into my satchel to check out later when I get back.

 

 

Finally I reach bottom.  I detach my flashlight from its cloth holder so I can maneuver the light better.  I fold up and place the bandana back into the satchel, then look around.  I’m standing in a dead-end of a tunnel that appears to slant downward from here.   

 

Do I dare go further?  I’m intrigued by all the recent TV programs on the Manhattan underground and London underground, and all the various tunnels for systems under cities for pipes, electric, water, sewer and subway systems.  Even underground cisterns as in Masada and New York City, and underground shelters in Roman times and in London in World War II – all fascinating!  Yet this is creepy, too.  Where does this lead?  What else is down here?  I think of all the stuff nightmares are made of: darkness, bugs, spiders, monsters, the unknown.  I think I should go back.

 

But what if it’s part of the Underground Railroad?  Or an escape route during the Civil War when the North/South line moved back and forth across this area?  I decide I’ll walk just a little further.

 

Cautious steps, one after the other, all going down a slight slope.  Something skitters nearby, causing me to stop as my heart pounds and I move my flashlight towards the sound.  It’s only a salamander.  How pretty!  It looks like a clown with those black polka dots on the bright orange smooth body.

 

A few more steps and I stop again as I hear another noise, but this sounds like water lapping softly onto the shore.  This intensifies as I continue along. 

 

Then I step into what appears to be a large cave with a rock ledge running along one side and expanding past a pool of water that is mostly calm but with just enough motion to create the lapping sound.  Is water flowing in?  I watch, but the water isn’t rising.  Maybe it is flowing in and out? 

 

Aiming the light so it follows the ledge out over the pool, I see some things piled there.  I climb up and walk out further a bit on the solid ledge.  An old bashe-in tin cup, maybe for getting pool water to drink?  Someone hiding out waiting to connect up with the Butterfield Stagecoach, which passes nearby?  Back here, near the rock wall, a pile of feathers interspersed with bits of disintegrating cloth… no, it’s burlap sacking.  Maybe this had been someone’s sleeping pallet… for a slave dreaming of freedom?  for a soldier dreaming of peace?  for a settler dreaming of escape?   

 

And of what do I dream as I stand here in this tunnel of history?  Of the interconnectiveness of all things, the ebb and flow of life, the weaving of patterns, the wonder of it all.  But mostly, of the even bigger Wonder beyond it all!

 

My reverie finally breaks.  A little further along the ledge, I see a pile of charred wood and something half buried in the ashes.  How long ago was this fire snapping and crackling?  What’s this?  A partially burned wooden carved fish!  Symbol of Christians being here?  Fisherman?  Fish in the water? 

 

I go to the edge and peer into the deeper part of the pool.  Yes, I see fish swimming, but they seem to be moving with a purpose, as a school of fish, from left to right.  Is that how the current flows?  I watch closely.  Yes, it is.  Yet I don’t see an opening into the cave.  Must be underwater.  I’m not a very good swimmer.  I think I’ll turn back.  This has been adventure enough and gives me plenty to write about.

 

But where are these fish going?

Written by thalia

May 31, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Into the Well

with 6 comments

 

I finished glancing through a Toscano catalog, enjoying the beautiful sculpture suitable for putting in the garden.  Most everything was too expensive for me to ever buy, but just looking always inspired me with garden ideas more suitable for my budget.  So I then decide to wander through the garden, as the various possibilities were still fresh.

 

I wander through the flower and vegetable gardens, around the huge wild rose bush in bloom, past the honeysuckle overgrowing the old fence, and roam through the back gate onto the rest of the property, all wild and abandoned.  Clumps of daisies and cluster of late-blooming daffodils poke through wild grasses and tumbled stone, evidence of caring habitation in the old homestead that had been here years ago.  Part of the local stone chimney was evident, now a haven for snakes and other critters.   Giving the chimney a wide berth, I move behind it toward a particularly beautiful setting of blackberry flowers cascading on prolific branches.  They seem to form a circle with an opening in the center, but as I walk around the perimeter, I’m not able to penetrate within.  Something smaller was needed to avoid all the thorns… Yes, a bee.

 

I throw my garden/woods-wandering satchel over the blackberries wall and shape-shift into a bee able to fly between branches to avoid the thorns.  But the overpowering fragrance calls to me to stop and collect some pollen.  And then I fly to the next flower, and the next.  Wait a minute… I’m a bee in order to egress to the center, not to stop at every flower for pollen.  It can be hard to become something and not get caught into all the aspects of that something, all the instincts and attachments.  Focus… focus…   

 

I shoot straight to the center and see a round wooden plank cover lying there, encrusted with moss in places.  A metal handle pokes out of the center, so I shift back into my overweight self and pick up the satchel.  As I glance around I think back to the catalogue I had just seen and remember one of the items for sale entitled “The Dweller Below.”  This sculpture by artist Liam Manchester portrayed a legendary boogeyman rising from beneath the streets of London through a manhole cover.

\

 

The sculpture gave me second thoughts about pulling the cover off, but really, what do boogeymen roaming the city-streets of London have to do with a well in Ozarks country.  Grunting, I pull off the cover and peer within, expecting to see water below.   Instead, there are stairs leading down into blackness.  What is this?  Not a water-well which are common around the farms here, but a passageway.  Where does it lead?  Could this have been an escape route in case of attack from rustlers or Indians way back?  How long ago was that homestead here?  Maybe it’s  more of an escape for during the Civil War when the North and South fought heavily in this area.  Part of the underground railway?  Where does this lead?

 

I pull out the flashlight from my satchel, glad the batteries were new, plus I had extra in the bag.  I tie a Kleenex on the tip of a nearby branch as evidence I was here, just in case… 

 

Written by thalia

May 25, 2008 at 3:01 pm

Out on a Ledge

with 7 comments

I was edging along a narrow path, more of a ledge really. Now, I am terrified of heights, and even looking down from the second step of a ladder gives me vertigo. Yet here I was, trying not to think about where I was while my knees turned to jelly and my head whirled.

The path here was perhaps wide enough for a normal person to walk on, if they were surefooted and careful. However, when it comes to heights, I am not a normal person. So here I was, back pressed against the wall, arms splayed out, fingers clenching the rock, shuffling along sideways. The edge was altogether too small of a distance from the toes of my shoes, and I moved as slowly as I could (which was also as fast as I could move just now.). I must have looked a sight, except there was no one else there to see me. I could be thankful for small blessings.

I came to a slightly wider place in the trail and slowly slid down into a sitting position, very gingerly and carefully. A gust of wind came by and whipped my hair into my face and I was thankful that I was sitting down. As unsteady as I was, that little push of wind might very well have sent me toppling over the edge. As I sat there and tried to catch my breath and pull myself together, I wondered how on earth I had managed to get myself into this position.

The trail had been going along nicely, up and down hills, by streams and through forests and fields, and I had been enjoying the journey. New scenery around each bend and fresh sights kept me entertained and contented, and I was quite happily striding along.

Then, suddenly, the path had changed, and in the space of a few steps, I found myself on a narrow path that was climbing ever higher. I was uneasy, and looked back thinking that I would turn around, but as I did, I heard a rumbling and then the path behind me was wiped out by rocks and dirt hurtling down the hill from above. I covered my head with my arms, but a few stray stones still hit me with stinging blows. When I looked up again, coughing, the path was gone and the only direction I could go was ahead.

The trail had grown ever steeper, higher, and narrower, until I was here, edging along trying not to look down, lest the ground far below me wobble and spin and pull me down to it.

I sat there for a long while with my heart still pounding and my legs unable to support my weight. Finally, I edged along on the seat of my pants, moving forward once more. At this rate, I might find a way off this damned ledge sometime in the next week or two. I didn’t think I could last that long.

Part of the path shifted underneath me, and I stopped, gulping, with my eyes closed and my heart racing. Everything steadied after a moment, and I caught my breath and swore. I did not want to be here, and angrily, futilely, wished I could throw and smash something or pound a hole in something, for all the good it would do me. Tears streaking the dirt on my cheeks, I finally used the energy from my rage to move a few more feet.

The path narrowed again, and I was sitting on it like I would a chair, with my feet dangling off into empty space. I tried to tell myself that I was just sitting on a rock, with my feet inches off the ground, but I wasn’t buying it. The sun was starting to set now, and it was growing chilly. I turned my head carefully, without moving my body, and looked ahead. The path seemed to end abruptly about twenty feet farther along.

My mouth felt like someone stuffed it full of cotton. I worked for a minute and finally got enough saliva to swallow. It looked like I was well and truly trapped. Finally, hoping that there was a path lower down, or a sudden turn, I wiggled onward. I wasn’t going to find out sitting still.

By the time I made it to the point where the path disappeared, with my slow and unsteady pace, it was fully dark out. The wind was blowing steadily and the temperature had dropped to near freezing. By the light of the rising moon, I could see that the trail did end there. There was nothing there but blackness. I leaned back against the wall behind me, fingers digging into the ground. Not only was I sitting on this ledge, I also had nothing but open space to one side of me. My head spun again.

As I pressed back, I could feel something shifting and I felt like I was going to slide off and fall. I pressed back even harder and then I did fall- but I fell backwards as the wall behind me disintegrated into sand and rubble. Then I was lying on my back on a lumpy pile of rocks in a cave, with my legs still hanging off the ledge.

– She Wolf (c) 2008

Written by Jane

May 20, 2008 at 2:37 pm

Posted in Short Story Arena