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November 22, 2019

Fiction: The woman in the sun

This week's Words for Wednesday prompts are two photographs taken by Bill Dodds. For more Words for Wednesday, visit Elephant's Child's blog here.

Photographs by Bill Dodds
Fiction: The woman in the sun

He found her again among the overgrown dried whitegrass. She stood with her back toward him. A light wind was rearranging her long black hair. Her red gown was a faded hue under the bright summer sun. She turned around and her beauty astonished him again. Her pale face was almost translucent.

He rushed forward uncertain of what he wanted to do only that he needed to be near her. But she faded away. He turned about looking and looking but she was gone.

Whether she was real or not, he was not certain. But she looked exactly the same as in his grandfather Edward's paintings. The woman in the sun - she was called. Edward had said she only appeared on sunny days. And here she was and here she left.

But as he turned back to return to his cabin, she appeared again about three meters from him. He thought he saw a smile though it quickly left her face.

She pointed toward to her left at a tree that faded upward into the clouds. He ran toward her without thinking. But she was gone before he reached her.

The tree was a giant. He was not certain it had an end. The tree trunk was rough to the touch. Its long white bark was peeling and revealing dark spots. Beneath the tree, there was a pile of white rocks. He bended down. Was something buried here? Beside the rocks was a piece of long, rectangle wood stuck to the ground. Most of the letters had been rubbed off. What were left were: DOTUY.

He lifted the rocks and put them aside. The area around it was all dried but the dirt where the rocks had been, appeared fresh. He pulled out his small knife and begun to dig.

Sweat dripped down his face. He wiped at his forehead with his shirt sleeve. The sun was high above beaming down directly where he stood. As the time whiled away, a strange urgency kept him digging. He was certain there was something buried here.

He heard thunder and wondered if it would rain. He lifted his face toward the sky. It was getting dark. Sunlight that fell on him was dimmed. He shivered in his long-sleeve shirt and jeans. But he kept digging. There must be something here.

The sky grew dark and the sun disappeared. He sat down on the ground. He was exhausted. Bits of moonlight fell on the dirt at his feet. He looked up at the tree. It faded into the darkness. Why did the woman led him here? He should not have followed her just because he was curious. And because she was a beautiful woman.

An owl was calling his name: Wren, Wren. He looked about for the owl but he could not see it. A light laugh rung out in the silence. He stood up and found he was deeper in the hole than he thought. He looked around for a way up but climbing was his only option. He dug his knife into the dirt wall and tried to pull himself up but he tumbled to the ground. Something soft fell on his face. He wiped his cheek and found dirt. He looked up. The ghost woman peered down at him. There was something ugly about the way she sneered. He started to stand up but something hard struck the top of his head forcing him back down. The rock landed beside him. He glanced up but she was gone. Dirt kept falling on him as if invisible hands were at work.

His head ached and his vision was hazy. Dirt kept falling on him, over and over until he felt like he was under layers of heavy quilts.

"Hey! Are you alive down there?" There was a chuckle and then, "Hey, can you hear me?"

He opened his eyes to slivers of bright lights.

"Look, just reach out and feel for the ladder and climb up. You'll be fine."

He tried lifting a hand but he could not move. He was weighted down by the heavy layers of dirt.

"Did you hear me?" There was a groan. "Don't make me go down there." There was another groan. "Oh, alright. I'm coming down! You'd better not be dead."

The heavy layer of dirt was removed from him. He looked up but all he saw was a bright light.

"Hey, don't make me do all the work, alright?"

He nodded. Strong hands pulled him to his feet. Then they grabbed his hands and placed them onto something solid. "This is the ladder. I hope you know what to do because I'm not carrying you up."

There was some shuffling behind him and then a slap on his back. "Hurry up, will you?"

He moved one leg at a time making sure he was steadied before moving onto the next step. Back on the surface, he crawled toward the giant tree and leaned against it.

A flashlight turned off and then another one was turned on.

His head ached but he could make out the woman standing there with the flashlight on her belt.  "What— I mean, who are you?"

"Kris. Kristen Climb. Funny, isn't it?"

He didn't know what she meant. "What's funny?"

"My name - Climb. I carry a ladder with me all the time. Don't you think it's funny?" She let out a short laugh. "No, it's stupid. I don't actually carry a ladder with me all the time - just to this part of the woods. Some fool or another always ends up in some hole because they follow some beautiful woman thinking she will lead them to some paradise. Is that right in your case?"

He scoffed. She was right. Dead right. "Yes. I was a fool."

"Didn't you see the sign?"

"What sign?"

"That sign." Kris shifted the flashlight toward the long rectangle wood with the missing letters. "It says— well, it should say, 'Do not touch the rocks if you want to live' but I guess the paint got washed away. Well, anyway, you shouldn't be here. It's private property."

"I'm sorry. How did you know about the woman?"

"Oh, she was my great-great-great-great— Wait, was that five? No, great-great-great-great-great grandmother. Yes, she is a ghost but she is a vindictive ghost. Some man ditched her and married another some hundred years ago. Now she is hell-bent on taking revenge on every man that comes along. Poor grandpa! I mean, poor great-great— Oh hell, you know what I mean."

"So you do believe she is a ghost?"

"What else can she be? She's supposed to be dead. If someone who is supposed to be dead kept wandering about, don't you think she's a ghost or something like it?"

"You saw her?"

"Of course I did. How else would I know about her? Shouldn't you know this? You grew up on the Island, didn't you?"

"I moved away when I was five. I came back to find out what happened to my grandfather." He sighed realizing he had almost fallen victim to the same fate.

"Oh. I suppose you've found your answer now?"

"Yes, sadly."

Kris nodded. She pulled out something from her overall pant's pocket. It was a paper bag full of long black strips. "Want one?" She put one into her mouth and held out the bag.

"Sure." His whole body ached as if someone had hit him with a truck but at least he was alive. And hungry. He took a piece and put it in his mouth. It was like chewing on leather but a little bitter and a little salty. It made him thirsty. He wanted to spit it out but was too polite to do so.

Kris laughed. "Its licorice, home made. Takes some getting use to." She put the bag back into her pocket. Then she pulled a flashlight from the other side of her belt and turned it on. He could see her face in the light - it was full of freckles and lose red hair. She turned off the flashlight and held it out to him. "Take this. You'll need it."

He took the flashlight. "Thank you, Kris."

Kris nodded. She bit off the licorice and put the piece into her mouth. "I must get going." She wiped her hand on her pants. The light on her hat flickered on. She reached into the hole and pulled up the ladder and swung it onto her shoulder. "I'll expect you to fill up the hole again unless you think it's funny for people to fall in." She chuckled. "Goodbye, Quentin Wren." She turned and walked off into the darkness.

He bit off his licorice and stuffed the rest into his pant's pocket. Where was the ghost? He looked around him. He could make out nothing in the darkness. It was quiet, eerily quiet.

Kris knew his name. How? Climb - he had heard of the name before. There were some Climbs that had been their neighbor when he and his mother moved in with his grandfather some thirty years ago. He wondered if he had ever met Kris but he could not remember much about those days.

He placed the flashlight on the ground and grabbed some dirt and threw it at the hole but then he spotted a shovel and picked it up. Kris must have left it or was it the ghost? An owl was calling his name again. He sighed and began shoveling.

10 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. @ Christine: I think so too. Thank you for stopping by, have a lovely day.

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  2. I'm glad he got out, that's an awful way to die.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ River: Oh yes, that would be an awful way to die.

      Thank you for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  3. Normally when people her an owl call their name they die. I'm glad our hero survived.

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    Replies
    1. @ Uglemor: I didn't know that about owls, I just decided to add it. Anyway, that's something to know.

      Thank you for stopping by, have a lovely day.

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  4. I love how you wove the pictures together. I like licorice and will remember this story when I chew on it. lol

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    Replies
    1. @ nothoughtsnoprayersnonothing: I don't much like licorice but I like the idea of them.

      Thank you for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete
  5. Original little story! Also, you know me and ghosts LOL.

    At one time, I even expected Kris to be a ghost too - a good one. And one who could become corporeal again if need be 😉.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ Roberta: Actually, I didn't intent for Kris to be anything but a real person, although I like that she accepts ghosts are real.

      Thank you for stopping by, have a lovely day.

      Delete

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