Lilimor gazed across the field of wild strawberries into the Great Wood. She didn’t have enough berries to fill her basket, but the fiddle called her to the waterfall within. Its song enticed, one she almost recognized and had to sing.
Perhaps she had enough strawberries after all. She stood, humming, and stepped her way through the field of white flowers, unmindful of the rich red berries that stained her feet.
Behind her, the cat growled, his tail switching. He was not as easily convinced as his young mistress.
He padded behind her, nonetheless, following her into the darkness.
Meadow of strawberries gave way to thick moss at the forest’s edge, giving way in turn to shiny pine needles and thickening gloom. Lilimor tipped her head, and changed direction, going deeper into the wood and away from the waterfall commonly used by her family in the Hold. If she could just get closer to the sound of the fiddle, its dance among the tumbling waters, she knew she could capture the tune and sing, full-voiced. And she so wanted to sing. Nothing was more important. She dropped her basket and continued.
The cat sneezed, the scent of enchantment thickening as the fiddle grew louder. He ran past her fallen basket and tried to slow the child, entwining himself around her feet. She deftly danced around him, and quickened her pace, not sparing him a glance. It was too late for him to run back to the Hold and summon help, not that the stupid humans would pay any attention to him. He pressed his body to the ground and slunk from tree to tree, keeping a safer distance as he followed.
A glimmer of green light ahead, and a hillside appeared before them, covered in low bushes of white flowers, from whence a waterfall slid, oily, thick and slow, over knife-sharp granite and disappearing into a blackened pool sunk several feet below ground level. The waterfall undulated out of a cavern twenty feet up in the hillside, its waters–if that’s what they could be called—rubbimg against the granite rocks with a reedy, sonorous wail. No fiddle, this, but the deep sounds of an underground cello.
Lilimor climbed the hillside, the better to see what her ears could hear. Her humming grew louder, her mouth opening to the song, and she leaned into the waterfall’s source, extending her hand to the smooth green hand reaching for hers. Her mouth opened joyfully, her sweet voice splitting the darkness as she sang her life’s song, the song of her own end.
The cat pressed deeper into the bushes, white petals showering over his trembling body as the cavern snapped shut and the hillside rumbled and flattened. A shaft of sunlight broke through the canopy of trees and lit a circle of white flowers barely crushed by the slight weight of the child lying on her side, hands folded under her pale cheek, her berry-stained feet a contrast to the brilliance of the flowers. Her breath barely moved the delicate blooms that softly touched her closed lips.
Rising slowly, poised to leap at the slightest hint of danger, the cat padded over to his mistress and sniffed her honey-blonde hair, touched his nose to her lips. He rubbed his muzzle against her elbow and bumped a hip against her knee, and at last curled himself against her cool belly to wait.
© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2017)
Carrot Ranch Prompt (12/21/2017): In 99 words (no more, no less) include white flowers in your story. This is a repeat prompt, but one that has an ability to be emotive. Humor, drama, irony — go wherever the white flowers lead.
For those who want a bit more, here’s a 99-word sequel: The Journey Back