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Happy Sounds

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Before subwoofers, x box, face book and iPads we walked through the neighborhood with our heads up noticing nature, people and sounds. Melodies wafted from the porch as someone strummed a guitar, a voice lifted in song, kids laughed and played while dogs barked and chased. My happy sound is the music made by ice tea spoons swirling the sweet elixir to temper the heat of the day. The tinkling clinks poured through an open window followed by the squeak-slap-slap of the screen door. Sometimes I could hear the chirp of wood against wood of the porch swing and rocker before story time began. Happy sounds. What’s your happy sound?

“Dear Lord, thank you for my blessings for they are many.  Please give me strength and benefit of a steady hand. Thank you, Dear Lord. Amen. Ernest, why did you have to go a break your dang foot? Here I go.”

Matilda balanced the tray of tea and lemonade and walked to the porch.  She placed the tray on the table near window.

“Doctor Duvall, when do we get to hear about the genius break though?”

“Connor, don’t rush the day.  There’s time.  We have a gorgeous afternoon, tea and lemonade, and the blessing of a breeze.  We’ll get down to business in a bit.”

“Message for Doctor Duvall.”

“Here, son, I’m Duvall.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“What’s the excitement?”

“You haven’t heard?  Well, Sir, there’s a fire, big one going wild down in Jacksonville.  Some say you can see it from here.”

“Don’t exaggerate, son.  Jacksonville is nearly a hundred-forty miles from here.”

“Yes, Sir, but that is what the excitement is, Sir.”

Doctor Duvall read the message.  “He’s right, Gentlemen.  Seems there is a grand fire raging. Savannah will assist in any way possible to help.”

“Connor, come with me.  Son, wait here. I have are turn message for you to take.”

“Yes, Doctor,” said the messenger.

“Here, son, have a chair and some lemonade.  It’s a long trek from the city.”

“Thank you, Ma’am.”

Matilda smiled.  No one called her ‘Ma’am’ except her son.

“Yes, and the Doctor is sending help.  Says you can see the fire from here. I have to find a way to get to Jacksonville.  My Joseph is there.  He went down to get work at that mattress factory.  Man passing through said they were powerful hungry for workers.  Joseph thought this could be his chance.  Oh, Dear Lord, keep Joseph safe.”

“Now Matilda, you can’t assume Joseph is in any danger.  You don’t need to go off to Jacksonville.  Joseph will send word.  It’s a long journey.”

“You can twiddle your thumbs not knowing, Gracie? Get that tray of sandwiches to the porch.”

“Yes, Matilda.”

“Mrs. Duvall, excuse me.  May I have a word?”

“Of course, come in.  What, Matilda?”

“Seems the Doctor got a message about a fire in Jacksonville.  I have to get down there.  My Joseph went for work. That fire is awful bad.  I got to go find him, Mrs. Duvall.”

“Now, Matilda.  Don’t get worked up.  Let me find the Doctor.  I’ll see what I can find out. There’s no need for you to go off the Jacksonville, I’m sure.”

“Please tell the Doctor I’m powerful concerned. Tell him I have to go.  I won’t be any trouble.  Please, Mrs. Duvall?”

“All right, Matilda.  I’m sure he’ll agree with me.”

Mrs. Duvall was a gracious figure who seemed to glide rather than walk.  Matilda fell in behind her.  At the study door, both women stopped to listen.

“I don’t care about the lecture or how far these men have come.  If the fire is as bad as all that, we have to go.  It’s our Hippocratic oath as physicians.”

“Your research is important.  This is your chance to get some help. Some of these young men will do anything to get to work with you.”

“Not at the neglect of our neighbors.  Now, ask for volunteers to accompany me to Jacksonville. There will be a great need of our assistance.  That should appease their appetite for validation.”

“Have it your way, but this is a mistake.  It’ll cost you and take years to regain your standing at the university.”  Conoor left the study, made his way back to the porch.

“Your attention, please.  Your attention.”

The thirty or so scrubbed faces of youthful medical students turned to face Connor.

“Dr. Duvall is convinced the need for medical assistance will be great in Jacksonville.  The lecture and symposium for this week is cancelled.  He is going to Jacksonville and asks that anyone interested in volunteering see him in his study.”

Before Conor could begin to apologize, you men clamoured to be first at the study door.  The crowd jostled and pushed Connor aside.  Connor turned and saw he was alone on the porch.

“Foolishness.”  He chose a sandwich from the platter and paced.  Mayhem inside caused a ruckus.

“Connor, you imbecile!  I said ask for volunteers, not send them all to the study, for crying out loud.  Keep them entertained here on the porch while I prepare. Use your head, man.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Miraiam, don’t be ridiculous, Matilda can come with us.  She will be most helpful.  Don’t worry. I’ll keep an eye on her. She own’t be in any danger. Tell her to pack her things.  We leave in an hour.”

“Gabe, you aren’t serious?  Going all that way down there. And for what?”

“A fire can be devastating, Miriam. There will be casualties galore if we can see the fire from here.  I’m going, taking some volunteers and Matilda can volunteer, as well. Spirited soul, she is.”

“There’s no reasoning with you, honestly.”

“Give us a hug, then. I’ll be away for a few days.  The university will understand.  Take this letter to Brighton, the department head.  It explains the situation.  He will have to cancel my sessions or see to them himself.”

“I will.   Here, take this.”  Miriam removed her locket and let it spool into his palm.

He kissed her once, picked up his bag and satchel and headed to the porch. Connor had the men prepared.  The stable hand had prepared both carriages and five horses.

“I’ve borrowed carriages from neighbors. They’ll be along shortly.  You can catch up.  Matilda, here, ride with me.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”  Matilda climbed in, straightened her skirt and hat; she gave a wave to Mrs. Duvall.

“Be careful?”  Mrs. Duvall called through the cloud of dust already kicked up.  She waved them off with the letter in her hand.

“Mrs. Duvall, is there anything you need before the rest of us leave?” Connor asked.

“Let me pack these sandwiches for you all, no need throwing out perfectly good food. Don’t let Gabe get too carried away.  He works to hard and forgets to sleep or eat.”

“I will.  The men will appreciate the sandwiches later.”

******************

Duvall and his accompaniment arrived in town.  The fire engine  flat-bed of a rail car.  Firemen piled on all headed for Jacksonville.  Duvall hailed the train master, “Got room for more?  I’m Dr. Duvall and these are volunteers.  We’re headed down to assist.”

“Climb on here, I’ll see if there is room in the passenger car.”

“Come on, leave the carriage here.  I’ll send word for someone to fetch them. We can take the train with the firemen.  Matilda, get my bag.  Let’s go.”

**********************

When the train pulled in at Jacksonville, Doctor Duvall couldn’t believe the devastation.  Smoke billowing, flames leaping, blocks and blocks of debris that used to be buildings.  A wretched stench hung heavy in the air.  Explosions continued.

“What’s exploding?” Matilda asked.

“Street bricks, I guess.  They’ve been drenched, get overheated and the water makes them explode.  Come on, let’s see what we can do about setting up somewhere,” Duvall said.

“Doctor, how do I go about finding Joseph?  I got to know he’s all right.”

“We’ll find out.  Right now, I need your help.”

Duvall and Matilda took a few supplies and headed for makeshift hospital.  Injuries ranged from tragic burns, broken and crushed bones, missing body parts to those deceased.

“Matilda, take this back to the train stations.  Have the station manager get this through the telegraph office.  We are going to need more help and supplies.”  Matilda ran, dodging people, horses, and various chickens and goats. Message delivered she hurried back to the Doctor when someone grabbed her arm,

“Mamma?  Is that you?”

“Joseph, oh my Joseph, you’re alive.  Thank you, Dear Lord, thank you.  Are you hurt, anything broken?”

“No, Mama. What are you doing here?”

“I came with Doctor Duvall to find you and help these poor people.  Come, let’s get back to the hospital.  Oh, Joseph, bless my soul, sweet Jesus.  Praise God, you are okay.”

“Mamma. I have to go back to the church.”

“No, son you can’t.  Its gone.  Moved all those folks out of there just in time.  Seems the whole city is afire.  Stay with me.  We have to help Doctor Duvall.

The doctor, his volunteers and Matilda worked non-stop for two days. Joseph took his mother’s arm and led her to a quiet niche he created.

“Here, Mama, sit down.   Drink some  water.  You can’t do this.  You need to rest.”

“Those injured can’t rest.  They don’t know where their family is, they don’t know their home is gone, all they have is their pain.  There’s no time for rest.”

“If you don’t rest thy won’t have you to help them.  I won’t let you kill yourself. Too many people need you.  Now, get some sleep.  I’ll find some food. You best be here sleeping when I return.”

“Joseph, be careful.  The city still burns.  It is dangerous.”

“Yes, Mama.”

Matilda slept. Joseph returned with some food but he couldn’t wake her.  He sat on the ground with her hand in his incase she stirred.  But she didn’t for eighteen hours.

Doctor Duvall came looking for her.

“Look, Joseph, look.  Baltimore got the telegraph. They are sending supplies and firemen and medical assistance.  Go on down to the railroad, round-up a wagon to haul some of the supplies back to the hospital.  I have to find a place to off load supplies and find someone to man them.  Answered prayers, for sure.  Now go on with you.”

Matilda awoke to the excitement.  Noise from the crowds flowed into the hospital.  She wandered out of her niche.  Men, women, children were hauling in supplies and goods.  She searched for Doctor Duvall but he spied her first.

“Matilda, are you okay?  You were really sleeping.  I checked on you when Joseph said he couldn’t wake you.  How do you feel?”

“Better, thanks.  How can a body sleep that long, Doctor?”

“I had Joseph put a little something extra in your water.  I couldn’t be distracted with you falling ill or getting hurt.  But look, Matilda. Baltimore came through!

We have a bale of splints, gallons and gallons of ether, half ton of bandages.  Mercy, they even sent wooden legs and coffins!”

“Well, imagine that, Doctor Duvall. If that isn’t proof of miracles, what is?  Joseph? Have you seen Joseph?”

“Oh, yes.  I put that young man to work.  You should right proud of your son.  He has quite a gift.”

“What do you mean?”

“Why, he has taken to doctoring the injured better than most men who have been in medical school for years.  He’s tended the wounded, dressing some nasty burns, setting some bones and has managed a couple of amputations.”

“Joseph? My Joseph?”

“That’s right, Matilda.  I have already sent a telegraph to University of Pennsylvania,  classes in the fall. His is the kind of talent we can’t let waste away in a warehouse somewhere.”

“I can’t pay for medical school.”

“Not to worry.  I’ll sponsor him and he’ll get a scholarship.  Joseph is going to set the University on its ear!  I have never seen such precision, calm and control.”

“Don’t know where he gets all that.  I could barely keep him in school when he was knee-high.”

Joseph came over covered in blood.  Doctor Duvall handed him a towel to wipe his face.  Take that apron off, you’ll upset your mother.  I have something to discuss Joseph.  Have a seat and drink some water.”

“What, sir?”

“I have been telling your mother what you have done these last fourteen hours.  You are a natural in surgery and you have a decent manner with patients out of their mind with pain or fear.  I have enrolled you in medical school, Joseph.  You will go to Penn State in the fall.  Don’t worry about expenses.  I have that covered. Be skeptical when some old geezer of a professor thinks he knows more than you.  You have details to learn but no one learns your surgery skill in a classroom, Joseph.  You’re amazing.”

“Thank you but are you sure?  Sounds like a lot of responsibility and studying.”

“You’ll do fine.  Now, get some rest and some food.  I hear it’s getting scarce around here.”

The mayhem of wounded continued for months.  There weren’t enough clergy to handle funerals and burials.  Jacksonville was a cinder city but the people resilient.  The able-bodied toiled and labored making a difference every day.  Workers  tied  rafts along the St. Johns’ River for single men while housing structures were arranged. The clean up took more than a year.  Doctor Duvall and his volunteers returned often to assist.  There were people and supplies flowing in from every major city across the country.  Joseph nearly two semesters under his belt returned when he could.

May 3, 1902, exactly a year after the fire there was a celebration.  The mayor declared the grain storage well to be completely flooded to stop the smoldering and regular flame break through.  With the grain well flooded to the brim, the last of the demon fire was out.  Doctor Duvall had rented an apartment along the river. He had Miriam come up for the celebration to help make up for the time he had been away.  She had never seen such devastation.

“Gabe, this is wretched.”

“Not so much now, Miriam.  The year has seen a great deal of progress.  You can’t imagine what the first days were like.  I had to be here.  I know you’ve been angry.”

“Not angry, Gabe.  Lonesome, as though that fire not only consumed Jacksonville, but us as well.  Perhaps we too have survived,” she stroked her abdomen with those words and looked at Gabe with raised eyebrows.

“No!”

“Yes, Doctor, its true.  Your soon to be a Papa.”

“Let’s name him Joseph.”

“You are certain we’ll have a boy?”

“Josephine, then.  Matilda will like that.”

“Fine, as long as I have you, you can name your child anything you wish.  I love you, Gabe.”
“And I love you, Darling.”

Five months later, they strolled around their garden pushing the carriage.  The carriage Doctor Duvall customized for Joseph and his twin sister.  No, her name was not Josephine, but Matilda Josephine.

Butterfly Soul Mates

Perched in the garden swing among the birds visiting the feeder and the butterflies flittering about the tiger lilies, Cara read from her diary.  The edges of the paper were soft and frayed by time. She brushed a wisp of gray hair from her cheek and enjoyed the sun on her face.

She closed her eyes and  movies of her past played on.  Good, bad, happy sad; all of it.  She was hiking with Roger in the Andes, then she taught others the joy of finger spinning wool from lamas.  She showed Reed how to hold a flat rock just right for skipping across the lake.  Oh the lake, she spent half her life there.  Her grandfather taught her to dress the fish they caught and how to ready them for the iron skillet he set right in the coals.

Memories like these kept her company anymore.  She sat down each Sunday afternoon to write her letters and turned sad as she skimmed through her tattered address book.  Gold stars decorated each page; nearly each name.  The stars bore the dates of the death of friends and family.  Going through her it was like a stroll through the cemetery.  More memories visited Cara that afternoon.  An old beau smiled as he offered her a bouquet of wild flowers.  Brian made her smile.  But she didn’t marry Brian.  There he was, Frank.  Her Frank.  He smiled and teased.  She loved the low chuckle he made when she tried to tickle him back.

Cara sensed a presence through her memories and opened an eye.   Sarah, her great grand-daughter  stood near her.

“Hi GrandMa`ma, let’s get you inside.  The damp has come up.  You’ll catch your death out here this late.”

“Late, it can’t be late.  I just sat down, child.”

“That’s how it feels because you love your garden. Time for your tea and dinner.”

“I’m not hungry.  Sit here with me. Let me tell you a story.  A story from my youth when I was about your age.”

“Another time GrandMa`ma.  It’s time to go in now.”

“I don’t emember when the time came that the children gave the orders around here.  Alright, let’s go.  But first look, there at the lilies, the butterflies.  Beautiful.”

“Those are dragon flies, GrandMa`ma, not butterflies.”

“Not butterflies, nonsense. I know what I’m talking about.  Frank and I used to count how many we would see in an afternoon out fishing on the lake.  Do you go to the lake, Sarah?  Do you fish?  Can you dress a fish for the frying pan?”

No, GrandMa`ma.  I don’t eat fish. I’m a vegetarian, remember?”

“A vegetarian?  You don’t eat fish.  I’ll be.  Your GrandPa`pa wouldn’t know what to do with you.”

“He had you, remember.  He aways had you.”

“Bless his heart, he was a good man. Look at this Sarah.”

Sarah’s fingers grasped a bit of cloth, near thread bare except for some stitching.  She read  the words still there in faded colors of thread, “My beloved Cara, Frank.”

“GrandMa`ma, this is so sweet.”

Sarah reached to hand it back to her but Cara was slack on the swing, one had stretched, reaching for the hand she held so many times while strolling through the garden among the butterflies.  Sarah sat next to her, held her hand, stroked her cheek and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear.

“Awe,GrandMa`ma, no.  Leaving me here on my own?  Look at you.  I  hope I find someone so wonderful to love as you did.  Let’s sit here a minute.  The butterflies will turn to fireflies and the crickets will sing.  I’m goning to miss you GrandMa`ma.  You and your stories.

Sarah smoothed the handkerchief out, traced the letters with her fingertip.  A rich loving life, completed now.  Two butterflies came and lit on Cara’s  lap.  They twitted their wings about and took flight swirling together and Sarah knew her GrandPa`pa had come to collect his beloved.

Twisted Memories

  Twisted Memories

by

       Lisa Combs

Surprises are not always welcome.  Vince waited, hoping.  She would come down the stairs to baggage claim.  He’d see her before she saw him. He could surprise her.  It’d be fun.  He wrung his hands, put a breath mint on his tongue and counted redheads in the crowd.

Gayle came down the stairs, her phone pressed against her ear.  She headed to the carousel.  A crowd gathered, the clear-the-way buzzer sounded and bags began to appear from the portal.

Vince walked closer.  He didn’t want to startle her.  He didn’t want to spook her.

It had been seven long years.  Would she recognize him?

“Gayle? Is that you?”

She turned around in surprise for sure.

“What are you doing here, Mack?”

“Not Mack anymore.  Call me Vince. I came to see you.”

“How could you know my travel plans.  I’ve been away.  How did you know I’d arrive today?”  She reached for her bag, lugged it over the curb of the conveyor.

He reached to help, hands touched, eyes met.  “Don’t.  I’ve healed.  I’ve moved on.  I can’t go back.  It was too hard, Mack.  I can’t.”

“We can do it together, Gayle.  We need each other.  The crash was not your fault.  We were hit head on by a drunk, for crying out loud.  I need you. You need me.  Don’t turn me away.

“Don’t Mack.  I can’t.  I met someone.  They don’t know the past, Mack.”

“Vince, call me Vince.  Mack died in that crash.  The coma lasted far too long. You are the only thing I remember.  There was you and me, me and you.  I know about Angie.  The doctors told me. My therapist eventually gave me the news paper articles.  Later, he included the photos.  I couldn’t remember anything except your face.  Please?”

She became self conscientious of others listening, watching.

“Let’s get out of here.”

He took the suitcase and her elbow. He led her to the car.  She slowed her pace.  She didn’t know what she wanted.  He opened the door.  She got in.  He took it slow not knowing how much she would recall.

Do you know the way back to the house?” she asked.

“Of course.  Do you?”

“Only becasue I have memorized the street names and turns.  Nothing’s familiar.”

“Why are we doing this?”

“We have to.  We have to move toward the future not hang back in the empty past.”

“I don’t like this.  It’s raining.  It makes me want to cry.”

“Tears wash away pain.  Body chemistry changes and cleanses.  Attitudes change.  It’s okay.”

“No, that’s not it.  You, I don’t like you.  You say you don’t remember.  Mack, you can’t remeber because we weren’t a family.  You made it all up.  You were injured in the crash.  I was the eye-witness talking to the police.  How did you get my name? Find me?

Vince isn’t your name.  It’s Mack. The reality is that we didn’t even know each other.”

“That’s not true.  We were a family. We married in ’87, Angie was born in ’88. You got your PhD in ’93.  We were traveling to see your parents for Angie’s birthday.  The truck came at us.  I was driving. You were . . .”

“That’s not true.”  She slapped his cheek. She placed a cold towel on his face.”

She looked at  her colleague, “Sedate him.  He needs to sleep.”

Dr. Grace, will he be okay? Will he ever adjust and be able to go home?”

“I don’t know.  This case is one all its own.  He wasn’t even in a crash.  We never knew one another.  He recalls me from delirium in the ER that night.  Some bit of memory latched on.  I don’t know what else to do for him.  I can’t perpetuate this lie, even for his sake.

“I understand the personal conflict here but you can’t cut him loose without a foothold on a reality that he can exist in.”

“Are you suggesting I give up my reality for his imaginary one?  That I feed his hallucinations with falsehoods and pretenses ?”

“No, Doctor, not exactly.  But if you allow him to recover with the idea that you’re getting better in his scenario, you are the one with the lapse of memory and the coma. He will find purpose for himself.  He  will grow strong for your need of him.  He can mend.”

“I can’t do that.  It’s not right to suggest such a ruse.  How many cases have you sat in on where the patient has no reality?”

“This is my first. But I think that you can help each other.”

“I don’t need help.  I need to go home to my real family.”

“And can you tell me why you don’t have any photos in your office of any one but Vince, here?”

“I don’t have any photos of Vince, uh, Mack.”

“Really?  Let’s go see your office.”

They arrived at her office, she opened the door, entered and looked around.  On the wall, on the bookcase and on her desk were photos; photos of Mack and a little girl.  She held her breath not believing.  She sat in her chair, and the intern administered her afternoon sedative.  She needed rest after this shock. The intern call her doctor and gave report.  There would be a chance to measure progress when she came to.  Now he returned to Vince to find him busy in his office preparing for his next patient.

“Hey, Jim, heard you were working with Dr. Mack on that crazy coma case.  How is it working in the shadow of a genious?”

“A bit scary.  He turned the tables on her a couple of times.  I don’t know how he will keep track of his own twists and turns.  Sometimes, I think he is the actual patient.”

That’s write!  I need a kick in the derriere, keep it in the chair and write till it is DONE.  I do write each day.  I have a group of shorts I have been hacking (editing) and revision spills from me as though I’d slashed data byte storage on my docs.  Time to find new writing muscle.

  • May 1 – 5   romance
  • May 6 – 12  science fiction  (not fantasy)
  • May 13 – 19  historical fiction
  • May 20 – 25  memoir bits
  • May 26 – 31  Who Are These People

With this plan, I will be more productive.  Stories will be 500 to 2000 words.

Hoist the anchor, set the sails, and away!

Been Awhile

The bloggers’ first rule is to post regularly…. and I haven’t been doing that.  I have been writing.  Now the focus is more submissions.  How do writers handle the time lapse between submission and notification?  Do writers do the multiple submission routine?  Notifying with a submission that there are other venues receiving the same story seems to mark one for easy rejection.  So here, I address my concerns for plans of submissions and how I move forward.  Short short stories should have plenty of palces to go for publication.  I feel like a ’49er trying to ‘find’ the spot to ‘mine’.  

I participate in a wonderful critique group, Wellington and West Boca.  The Florida Writers’ Association is active in supporting writers.  These people are dedicated and giving of time and expertise.  I thank you all.  Now, there are some story details for me to return to and some guidelines to address for submissions.

 

Hume hiked past lower town to the caves. He suspected he was being followed.  Trusting naught, he double around, retraced his steps.  He came to the caves midmorning but didn’t want to go straight in.  He climbed a distant chinaberry tree and scouted the area.  In a bit there was a rustling at the entrance of the cave.  He watched without showing himself.  Cardova exited the cave in a huddled low to the ground lugging something of weight.  Hume waited in silence.  Cardova stopped, looked around.

Hume observed a while longer.  Cardova made no other strange moves.  Hume decided to perchance a greeting.   He picked up a few stones and began to whistle a tune.  He threw the stones at passing birds as if in fun,  surprising himself when he struck one. Feathers floated to the ground as the bird recovered.   At this, Cardova shouted, “Is that the best you can do?”

“Well, what are you up to way out here?”

“I could inquire the same of you.  But figured you would arrive before sunset.”
“Why do you say such?”

“The orbs.  I saw you with Evie. I watched when you learned they attracted one another.  I came to the caves to  determine the significance of the markings.”

“Whatever are you talking about, orbs, markings?”

“Hume, don’t take me for a fool.  Renaissance draws each of us.   We must be on our guard.”

“I don’t follow.  Do you mean there is some destiny for which we have arrived together at Renaissance?”

“Exactly! ”

“I met you on the way as we did Evie.  Now you mention the orbs as though you have knowledge of them.  Explain.”

“I don’t believe you continue to act so.  To much has been revealed to keep the secret.”

“Ah, now, you mention secrets, do you.  What secrets do you have? Your words and bundle pique my curiosity.  What is that?”

“It’s the key to the markings in the cave.  I was poking around markings on the boulders.  I searched them to no avail.  A distraction.  I moved the smaller of the boulders revealing a hatch.  I pulled the slatted cover away, took my torch and went down.  The log was there.  Look at this.”
“Hume came close to have a look.  Coardova unwrapped the end of a log. Hume knelt.  Cardova then struck Hume at the back of the head with a club.  Hume collapsed.  Cardova took the orbs from around Hume’s neck, then drug him to the cave and dumped him into the hatch. He replaced the cover and the boulders.  “Sleep long, Traveler.”  Cardova pulled a small pouch from a leather tie on his his belt.  He retrieved the third orb.  “What a beauty.”  He knew he had to keep the three apart until the time was right.

Evie saw him come back to the Inn carrying a load.  “Hello,  I haven’t seen much of you since we arrived.  What do you have there?”

“The key, dear Evie, the key.”

“The key to what?”

“They key to unravel the fold.”

“You say the oddest things, Cardova.”  Evie moved away.  She didn’t want him to know she knew of what he spoke.  “Have you seen Hume?”

“With you this morning.  Why, isn’t he around?”

“No, I haven’t seen him the rest of the day.  I need to talk to him.”

“Think that over, Evie.  Are you sure it’s not me with whom you wish to speak?”

“There you go again, saying the oddest things again.”

Hume hiked past lower town to the caves. He suspected he was being followed.  Trusting naught, he double around, retraced his steps.  He came to the caves midmorning but didn’t want to go straight in.  He climbed a distant chinaberry tree and scouted the area.  In a bit there was a rustling at the entrance of the cave.  He watched without showing himself.  Cardova exited the cave in a huddled low to the ground lugging something of weight.  Hume waited in silence.  Cardova stopped, looked around.

Hume observed a while longer.  Cardova made no other strange moves.  Hume decided to perchance a greeting.   He picked up a few stones and began to whistle a tune.  He threw the stones at passing birds as if in fun,  surprising himself when he struck one. Feathers floated to the ground as the bird recovered.   At this, Cardova shouted, “Is that the best you can do?”

“Well, what are you up to way out here?”

“I could inquire the same of you.  But figured you would arrive before sunset.”
“Why do you say such?”

“The orbs.  I saw you with Evie. I watched when you learned they attracted one another.  I came to the caves to  determine the significance of the markings.”

“Whatever are you talking about, orbs, markings?”

“Hume, don’t take me for a fool.  Renaissance draws each of us.   We must be on our guard.”

“I don’t follow.  Do you mean there is some destiny for which we have arrived together at Renaissance?”

“Exactly! ”

“I met you on the way as we did Evie.  Now you mention the orbs as though you have knowledge of them.  Explain.”

“I don’t believe you continue to act so.  To much has been revealed to keep the secret.”

“Ah, now, you mention secrets, do you.  What secrets do you have? Your words and bundle pique my curiosity.  What is that?”

“It’s the key to the markings in the cave.  I was poking around markings on the boulders.  I searched them to no avail.  A distraction.  I moved the smaller of the boulders revealing a hatch.  I pulled the slatted cover away, took my torch and went down.  The log was there.  Look at this.”
“Hume came close to have a look.  Coardova unwrapped the end of a log. Hume knelt.  Cardova then struck Hume at the back of the head with a club.  Hume collapsed.  Cardova took the orbs from around Hume’s neck, then drug him to the cave and dumped him into the hatch. He replaced the cover and the boulders.  “Sleep long, Traveler.”  Cardova pulled a small pouch from a leather tie on his his belt.  He retrieved the third orb.  “What a beauty.”  He knew he had to keep the three apart until the time was right.

 

Evie saw him come back to the Inn carrying a load.  “Hello,  I haven’t seen much of you since we arrived.  What do you have there?”

“The key, dear Evie, the key.”

“The key to what?”

“They key to unravel the fold.”

“You say the oddest things, Cardova.”  Evie moved away.  She didn’t want him to know she knew of what he spoke.  “Have you seen Hume?”

“With you this morning.  Why, isn’t he around?”

“No, I haven’t seen him the rest of the day.  I need to talk to him.”

“Think that over, Evie.  Are you sure it’s not me with whom you wish to speak?”

“There you go again, saying the oddest things again.”

576 words for Prompt Three:

  1. Betrayal is in the air.  
  2. Relationships unravel or strengthen.