For just Jot It January, a quick write to explore the Pied Piper and one who got left behind. From Kaye’s prompt “Seasonal” (Kaye @ https://kayespencer.com/blog-2/ ).There’s still time to join in on reading or sharing your own writing. Visit the comments section here for others’ responses to Seasonal.
He leaned his head back and felt the warm sun cut the chill on his face, and the chill of the stone bench he sat upon. He’d gone to the mountain just before sunrise, still hoping for entrance after so many, many years. It was his seasonal visit, for no one now could remember the exact day, only the time of year. They’d hurried to erase all records and smudge retellings, in shame of their greed and their short-sightedness.
Someone – not him – had placed a stone bench at the very spot where all the children had disappeared. The bench was immovable, and some blamed the fae. Here he sat, at the right time of year, year after year, watching the world change while it still stayed the same, whenever he felt the strongest pull and heard in his heart the trill of the pipe. And he felt it often, these days.
Decades had passed and memories grew dim. Interests changed as the modern world encroached; people with more leisure had time to walk and even climb the mountain. They came and stayed in the village inns – there were two in town now – and enjoyed a bracing breakfast in the morning and hearty stew and ale at night. In clement weather in all seasons but winter, hikers arrived with their jingling coins, their vacation-only walking boots, and their bottles of wine: wine that was consumed at the mountain’s summit and dashed over its cliffs, or unpacked on the grassy flats half-way up, along with small sandwiches and berry tarts. At least the picnickers cleaned up after themselves. They all came for the legend, but easily forgot in their delight of no rats nor other vermin to spoil their adventures. It was magical to them, he supposed.
He dragged the burlap bag across the bench and toward him and slung it over his shoulder. Time to make his rounds. Those broken bottles weren’t going to gather themselves. Wedging his crutch underneath an armpit, he levered himself to his feet and sighed, squinting against the risen sun. Not this morning, then, but perhaps tonight, after the sun set? He would wait for the promise of the full moon.
© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2023)