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 Ripples (Open) 
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Stablehand
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Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2005 3:57 pm
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Post Ripples (Open)
Outside of a small cottage, nearly overgrown by forest, a shriveled woman in a thin, flower-patterned dress rocked slowly in her rocking chair. In her hands were knitting needles that moved with unexpected agility. And as she rocked, she sang softly in a language all her own. Ghwee ni hroth ha, se bathsh ghwee… Her eyes moved back and forth from her knitting to a small clump of bushes ten yards away. Ghwee sham through, se bathsh ghwee… Finally she paused her singing and said, “Come.”

The bushes gave a little shudder. The woman held out a piece of bread, produced seemingly from thin air. “Come,” she said again. And this time a small child crawled cautiously from the bushes, looked around, and then darted forward to snatch the bread from the woman’s hand before retreating hastily into hiding.

The woman resumed her singing, and rocking, and knitting. But something was troubling her head. There was something she must say to this child, but her memory failed her. Now the sunlight cast its rays into the shrubbery, and she could see the child’s green eyes gleaming as it hungrily tore into the bread. The woman’s mind groped for words.

“Child…no mama?” The child’s head lifted momentarily and stared at the woman, then returned to its meal, quickly finishing the bread. The woman tried again. She produced a large piece of yellow cheese and held it out towards the bushes. Again, the child darted forward and grasped the prize, then retreated into safety. The woman thought hard. This was important. She knew she would stay here, live her last hours in this chair. The island was changing, but she would not change. Then she remembered.

“Child…the island…hole.” She struggled to find the right words to warn the little one. “Dying. The island is dying.” The child paused, the cheese halfway to its mouth, and then turned and scrambled off, deeper into the forest.


Sun Oct 09, 2005 5:44 pm
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Stablehand
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For three days Adelia had lingered by this cottage. She was initially attracted by the woman’s singing. It was a sound very comforting to a lonely child. On the second day, the woman noticed her when Adelia accidentally startled a bird from the bush. The woman offered her food and seemed as though she wanted to speak, but no words came. Adelia accepted the food gratefully from the old woman but did not trust her enough to remain in the open. On the third day, the woman came to her chair again at her usual time, and Adelia was still there, hungering for food and companionship.

This time the woman was able to speak. Adelia ignored the question about her mother. This was one she had received all too often. She was savoring the sweet cheese in her mouth when the woman mentioned the hole and then declared that the island was dying. Adelia’s fear instinct kicked in, and she turned and ran deeper into the forest, finally collapsing against the trunk of a tree when her legs gave out.

Why was she so afraid? She wasn’t surprised by the woman’s words. She knew the island was changing. Everyone knew. Timid animals now turned vicious, and vicious animals turned scared and submissive. Some animals just seemed to disappear. Rain had stopped. Plants died, or bloomed far out of their season. Food had become a precious commodity. And the people. Adelia felt a lump growing in her throat. People were changing, too. Changing and dying.

Adelia was sure there were more signs she was unaware of. She had heard rumors of a hole in the middle of the island, as had the old woman. Then why had she run? Why was she so scared? Something about the woman’s words had turned the rumors into facts for Adelia. And she didn’t know what to do.


Sun Oct 09, 2005 5:45 pm
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Stablehand
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Adelia had decided. She must see the hole for herself. If the island was dying, surely this hole was the cause. The hole had created a ripple effect, spreading death across the entire island. Affecting everyone. Adelia had to know that the island was dying, not just hear the words from an old woman with a broken mind.

And if it was dying? What then? Well, she would have to find a ship. Find some way to escape. Surely all the grown-ups weren’t just going to sit here and die! Surely they would make plans to leave the island. And why couldn’t she go with them?

Adelia would have to swallow her fear and go into town. She must ask which way led to the center of the island. She felt she would do better to pass for a boy. Boys seemed to have greater freedom to do as they wished. So she pulled a thread from the hem of her tunic and tied back her blond hair. She didn’t bother picking out the dried mud. Boys were thought of as much dirtier than girls, so the mud would only help her case.

She had a bit of a walk to get back up to the old woman’s cottage, and then from there another good walk to get to the middle of town. The closer she got, the more her fear grew. True, this was not the town she grew up in, but still, what if someone were to recognize her? She forced herself to keep treading the dirt road lined with cottages until she came to the main square of town. She stood looking around wearily, keeping her head down. Life seemed to be moving along at its usual pace. Men trotted by on their horses, women dragged crying children into one store and then another. Venders called attention to their produce in the market.

Yet Adelia felt that she could sense an underlying urgency in all movements. Or maybe that was just her own sense of urgency prodding at her to make a move. She couldn’t just stand on the side of the road all day. But her fear kept her rooted to the spot.


Sun Oct 09, 2005 6:09 pm
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