Lukos slammed from the cabin, the
flames of the fire recoiling in response. Aeliana stared at the door,
strong and permanent.
"Your tongue is sharp, daughter."
Bekka emerged from her bedroom, eyes wary.
Aeliana crossed her arms. "You
never discouraged it."
"Lukos is a good man."
"He was wrong."
"You were wrong."
Aeliana's heart sank. "What shall
"She knows the location of all of
the words ever spake."
"Scribes tell of a magical place,
rarely encountered, but tragic and beautiful." Bekka gave her
child a shove. "It is your only hope."
For three days, Aeliana searched the
woods, poking around abandoned cabins; looking beneath the footbridge
cobbled together with magic; wandering beneath the jack pines where
matsutakes grew. She found Esther curled in the depths of an ancient
oak, her face as cracked and solid as the heart of the tree, so that
the tree and the diviner seemed as one.
Esther woke immediately. "You seek
the Place of Words."
"How did you know?"
Esther unfurled herself. "What is
"We are allotted only a certain
number of words in this life."
"I fear I've squandered mine."
"We squander much of our lives."
"I want to gather up my words;
spend them more carefully."
Esther began to walk, Aeliana
following. "Words are the map of your life."
"Words are dangerous."
"Can be." Esther allowed.
"Bitter words. Honest words, when dishonesty would have been a
kindness." She fished among pine needles until she brought up a
mushroom. "Words can be good."
"Hurts may be unintentionally
"Deliberately as well."
"You can spend your life studying
on your words, looking for nuances and meaning." Esther stopped.
Choose wisely, my child," she said before vanishing into the
Aeliana peered. The words of her life
lay before her, a cord serpentine and scaled. She gathered up the
shimmering end, words last spoken with Esther. Further up, the cord
was dull and black: Her argument with Lukos. Perhaps she could remove
the dull parts...
The trees sighed deeply, the branches
wept. A voice floated on the wind. "The cord cannot be broken.
Take them all or none at all.
She'd take them all, then. She began to
wrap the cord around her hand. Angry words. Kind words. Words
reclaimed, set in store for future use, better use. The ball
grew heavy. She set it on the ground and began rolling it, now left,
now right, accumulating more words, unspeaking words spoken,
rendering her past mute. Where she told Lukos of her love. The words
she used to tell her mother about the night...She closed her eyes,
Aeliana sighed and began unrolling her
words, spreading them upon the ground.
The jack pines sighed with relief and
the wind carried Esther's laughter.
Tomorrow, she would go to Lukos and
speak proper words, words that would be added to her cord at the
Place of Words, words that would shimmer and gleam with promise and
Kelly Garriott Waite on Google+
This was written for this week's Write on Edge
prompt, a combination of a picture and this quote:
“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”~ L. P. Hartley: The Go-Between (1953)
Labels: flash fiction, Write on Edge