Wednesday, September 26, 2007

a story begins

September 26, 2007 - Wednesday

a story begins
Current mood: relaxed

Here's the beginning of a story. . . I intend to continue it but haven't done so thus far. It's unedited, but I thought y'all might enjoy a peek. We'll see if it turns into anything. :)

Uneasily I watched the woman under the trees. In no hurry, her eyes scanned the ground as her fingers ran lightly through the undergrowth. Only the lightest touch- almost a caress- stirred the leaves and flowers, and then she would move on. Finally her roving fingers stopped and held some leaves gently for her inspection. Satisfied, she began pinching the tops off the plants and dropping them into her basket. I wondered what the plants were, and why she wanted them. Certainly her behavior so far did nothing to disprove the stories I'd heard at school. Some of them were wilder than others, but all of them claimed she was a witch. I hadn't expected to run into her out here, so near my secret spot, but upon reflection I realized we were actually not far from her little house. Gosh, maybe I was even on her property- I had no idea how much land around her cabin she actually owned. No wonder nobody ever came out here.

I'd actually been snoozing when she must have arrived, drifting between conciousness and my own wandering thoughts. It took me a moment to notice her presence, but luckily I was well hidden and had not moved. While her back was turned I'd cautiously raised my head to peer through the honeysuckle. She was moving away from me now, so I breathed a little easier. I didn't much care to be discovered, especially not by her. Even though I knew most of the stories were total garbage, there was enough uncertainty in me to make me cautious. Feeling a little silly at my superstition, I rationalized that she was a stranger regardless, and a reclusive one at that. Far better to avoid a confrontation out here so far from help.

She did sort of look like she was from an earlier time- she wore a long sleeveless cotton dress that laced up the front, with a pretty elastic gather between her shoulder blades. There was a fringed scarf tied around her waist, and her silvered-auburn hair was pulled up into a wispy bun. Her arms and shoulders were brown and freckled. She was sweating a little in the afternoon heat (as I was), and when she stood to stretch she turned her face to catch the quickening breeze. She studied the horizon for a moment, and eyed the clouds above. Just then I heard a low rumble of thunder, very far away. Shoot. I didn't want to be discovered, but I didn't much relish the idea of getting caught up here in a downpour either. These summer thunderstorms could be really dangerous- just last year, some kids went to the hospital after lightning struck a nearby fence. The hailstones alone could be enough reason to head for shelter, and soon.

Luckily she must have had the same idea as me, because she picked up her half full basket, quickly scanned the woods around and then started down the path. I waited quietly until I figured she'd be out of earshot, then stuffed my book and water in my backpack and squeezed out from under the branches of my hideaway. The breeze was already growing stronger, causing the woods around me to shift and sway. I heard another rumble of thunder, this time much nearer. The storm was moving fast. I usually love that wild, electric feeling in the air that precedes a good summer rainstorm, but this afternoon felt different somehow- much more ominous. Everything was dark, and the branches seemed to hurry me along. "Go, go, go, hurry hurry" the leaves seemed to whisper. Almost against my will, I broke into a run and flew down the mountainside, not stopping until I'd leapt the old barbed wire fence, hurried through the elementary school's gate and trotted through the schoolyard to the street.

No cars were coming, so I crossed and cut through the Woolfolks' property. The air was heavy with rain, and it was as dark as a moonlit night. The windchimes on the Woolfolks' deck were ringing crazily. I walked now, catching my breath so I wouldn't look too harried when I got home. The wind felt good. What had got into me? It was just another summer storm- they were a common occurance in North Carolina in the warmer months. I guessed the woman in the woods had spooked me more than I cared to admit.

I rounded the patio at the back of Mrs. Johnson's yard and slipped through our own back fence. Just as I set foot on the deck stairs, there was a huge clap of thunder and the clouds opened up. I scooted the rest of the way up the stairs and into the kitchen, but not before the downpour had drenched the back of my shirt. Shutting the door, I shook the water out of my shoulder length, sandy colored hair. Mom glanced at me from the kitchen table, where she was working on her laptop.

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