Get tangled and lost in a book!
You'll get out... eventually.
You'll get out... eventually.
Note: Old stories may not be continued, at least for a period of time
Our small cottage could hold one small bed, big enough for only one person. Before my father grew ill, we used to take turns. Now my mother and I formed a silent agreement that we would sleep on the floors until he got better. If he got better.
“Elliot?” he whispered when I entered the bedroom.
“Father,” I softly said.
“Can you remove that chair from this room? It takes up quite a lot of space.” He rasped, weakly pointed over to a corner. Other than a potted strawberry plant, there was nothing there.
“There’s no chair, father,” I gently reminded him. One of the symptoms of mad cow disease was hallucinations.
“I’m doing it again, aren’t I?” he said sadly, staring at the wall. I stood there, not knowing what reassuring things I could say. “Your old pa is dying. I can’t take care of the farm. I make things up in my head. I’m useless.”
“Charles, don’t you ever say that!” my mother burst into the room.
“But it’s true isn’t it? All I do is hog the bed and eat up the food supply. It would be better for you if I died,” my father said.
“No, father. We need you. When you get better you’ll take care of the farm again. You’ll take care of us,” I said to him.
My father’s face relaxed and he sighed. “Elliot, Catherine, sit down here. Bring the pebbles and sticks. Let’s play Sticks and Stones.”
This was a game we often played when I was younger. It brought back memories of innocent childhood, when there was no plague and the biggest problems usually had to do with money, not death.
The objective of the game was to depict a single word using twigs and pebbles so that we could guess what it was. My mother was especially good at this because she was born with a natural gift of art. Unfortunately, being in a poor family and married into an even poorer one forced her to put aside her dreams and work in the fields.
As we played, my heart felt like it was being squeezed. What if I never see my family again? What if I leave and my father dies? These thoughts haunted me for the rest of the night.
When I finally fell asleep, my dreams were plagued by cows and cures.
* * *
Very early the next morning, I gathered my few supplies consisting of a change of clothes, my mother’s prized hair ribbon, and a small butter knife into a worn, burlap sack. I couldn’t bring my heart to take any food… my family needed it more than I did.
I looped the silky, midnight blue ribbon around my wrist so I could have a piece of my mother with me. I could almost see her deep blue eyes shimmer with pride when she occasionally wore the ribbon. It gave her a youthful beauty, erasing the wrinkles of hard work etched into her face.
“I’m coming back soon,” I whispered at her sleeping form.
I wrapped my dad up in his blankets, and adjusted his mattress to make him comfortable. I let out a long sigh and retreated from our cottage. I stumbled through the long grasses of the quiet edge of town, the smell of bread being baked wafting through the air from Racquel’s bakery.
Despite my better instincts, I stopped for a moment in front of his bakery. I inhaled the unmistakable scent of blueberry pie. I wondered if I would ever get the chance to eat my mother’s notoriously delicious pie. My mom hadn’t made it in years because of the lack of food and money.
I thought about the warm texture of the flaky crust that crumbled in your mouth and the tart taste of blueberries as I walked towards the small wood area. I could see a blond head at the edge of town. Already the memories of home were beckoning me to turn around… but home didn’t have blueberry pies. Not anymore. Not unless I got the cure.
“Psssttt,” a figure wrapped in the morning fog hissed.
Startled, I tripped over myself and fell on the floor. Teagan loomed over me, her black cloak making her more intimidating than usual.
“Hurry up. We need to get to the woods before people start waking up.” She hefted her bag over her shoulder, which was bulging with stuff. Hopefully food, because the thinking about pies was making me hungry. “Nikolas should be here about now.”
I was trying to forget about him, hoping that maybe he just wouldn’t show up. Maybe it was just my old prejudices, but it didn’t seem like he would provide anything other than a burden. Then again… his sister… everything about Nikolas sent my morals and my instinct at war with each other.
“Hey! I’m here now!” Nikolas’ sandy hair was almost a beacon under the moonlight. He ran to greet us, sporting a small satchel.
“Shh! Could you be any louder?” Teagan whispered harshly.
“Sorry, ma’am,” he apologized.
Teagan wrinkled her nose, “Don’t call me ma’am, it makes me sound old.”
“Stop saying sorry.”
“Are you done?” I dryly asked. There was no time for this nonsense, my dad could die any moment’s notice.
“Hmph,” Teagan huffed.
“Did you bring a map?” I asked her.
“I did.” She rummaged around her bag and pulled out a map. It was crisp and new, with only a few wrinkles on it. She shook it out and began marking different points along a path. “We’re going through the Sunshine Woods, two days at most. Then we walk through Requose to get to the Meadow of Multorum, which is where the cownip is.”
“Wait, can I ask a question, Teagan?” Nikolas said. “Why do we need cownip?”
Teagan rolled her eyes. “Haven’t you been listening to me? We need cownip to sedate the violent cows. It’s too dangerous to go to the cows directly.”
“Wait, we need to go to the cows?” Nikolas questioned, finally showing a hint of apprehension.
“For the love of Ettion!” Teagan exclaimed. “Yes! If only…” I tuned her screeching voice out as I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a vague shadow of someone in the fog.
Kaylee C. (Cow Chron. and TSC)
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