When the River Rises and the Wind Blows High

Endless pale beach, pale river twisting through, tiny human figures in two scant groups When the Wind Blows High

Cora stretched her long neck, beak pecking the fast moving clouds in the pale sky. Twisting, she at last freed herself from her heavy, confining carapace.  It’d been necessary protection against wicked solar radiation, brought on by the forebears of those singing blessings to the thin creek twisting through desert, below.

Wind off the melting icecaps ruffled her damp feathers, coaxing the final stage of her transformation to fierce dragon, like breeze to butterfly. When the wind blew high, she would fly to find the rest of her kind.

She eyed the scant group of humans below, stomach rumbling.

© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2020)

Carrot Ranch Prompt (09/03/2020): In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about high winds. It can be on land, sea or in outer space. Who is facing the wind or protected from it? Go where the prompt leads!

***** Alternate, longer version*****

When the River Rises

“They’re so tiny. They look like ants!” Cora laughed at her own joke so hard, she almost fell off the cliff where she was perched. It was an oldie, but a goodie. How she wished she had someone to share it with. But as far as she knew, she was the last of her kind…In this region of the planet, at least.

She lifted a wing just enough to poke her beak under and scratch at the juncture between feathers and leathery carapace. Almost time to shed the shell; it had been useful in the hot, dry years, but now that water was beginning to flow from the melting icecaps, she needed to be fully feathered and ready to fly.

Her dreams had told her to head south and east, but to exercise caution as she traveled. Centuries of desert years, as well as rhythmic waves of solar radiation on a planet that no longer had any protective ozone had likely changed her people. They might not recognize her, or her them.

She exhaled a tiny flame of longing and alarm. Her dragon-kind had outlived almost all species. There was no compelling reason to expect that had changed.

Stretching her long neck, Cora again worried at the edge of her carapace, sighing as she felt it lift and loosen a tiny bit; it was beginning to itch and would need to be removed before moisture and rot set in. Once that was accomplished, she would be light enough to fly. She shimmied in anticipation, her belly feathers fluttering as the early morning breeze grew in intensity.

Settling back on her talons and turning to catch maximum wind, she marveled that any of the two-legged creatures below had survived. They were a persistent and stubborn handful, which was how the planet had gotten to its present barren state.

Every morning they crawled out of their caves to check on the winding riverflow that grew wider and a little faster each day. As the river grew, so did the number of people that ventured forth. Soon they would build a structure to capture the water and divert it to the caves. There would be ceremonies under the moon and arguments under the sun about who owned the rights to what part of the river.

Yes, they were persistent and stubborn, a little bit hateful. But they were also quite tasty. She would need to feed before she traveled.

© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2020)

Microfiction Madness, September’s photo prompt. For an extra challenge use the word, “flutter”. Stories can be drabbles or longer flash fiction, or you can write poems. Have fun.

14 thoughts on “When the River Rises and the Wind Blows High

  1. Pingback: High Winds « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  2. I really enjoyed both versions (as is always the case with your work ^.^) but the longer one’s definitely my favourite! I especially loved Cora’s introduction — aside from the subtle character and theme-building, it also reminded me of Chrysippus, the stoic philosopher who was said to have died from laughing too hard at his own joke.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m surprised those tasty humies hadn’t all been eaten by this time! I love the line, “There would be ceremonies under the moon and arguments under the sun about who owned the rights to what part of the river.” It seems to capture the human struggle between honoring and owning the natural elements. Great story!

    Liked by 1 person

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