Chapter Ten

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I stayed for a week.

The battle below our feet--that's what I came to call it--provided us with no quiet at all. A couple of times, a shot could be heard very close to us, but nothing ever came into our territory. Birds were scarce, probably shying away from the loud noises of not only the Battle Below Our Feet, but from our own noises.

Papa quickly became irritated at the cabin after I arrived. He was never happy how it looked.

"It needs to be bigger."

"The edges are sloppy."

"No, no, NO!"

After a while, he gave up on how it looked. It was well into July now, and if he was going to get it done by the cold spell of September, then he needed to stop caring so much about it's appearance. It seemed wonderful to everyone else. No one understood why Papa was being so picky.

When we finally asked him, he said, "Because I want the best for us."

But I knew what he really meant. He wanted to prove me wrong that our cabin would be more efficient than the Indian's teepees.

I tried my best to ignore Papa's work. So, to get myself away, I took walks in the forest, no longer concerned about every twig that snapped behind me, or an unexpected shadow crossing my way. Everything reminded me of the kind, old Motavato, though.

I passed by some thyme, and my first thought was that I should pick it up for Motavato's stash. Right when my fingers brushed the ends of the soft leaves, I remembered I was in my old life, now. I no longer needed to keep watch.

Also, my eyes always caught the red paint of the Indian paintbrush flowers. I never picked them, just because I felt like they had some sort of power with them. They attached me to that small life I had below this hill. 

I never showed my family the flowers. I knew that Mallary would want to pick them, then forget they were even there, and leave them to die. Elizabeth would try and make a crown, but decided it was too hard. Joey wouldn't care. Papa would scold me. Grace couldn't see it.

Then it hit me. There was one person I could show my flowers to.

I lead Wendy into the forests on a bright, sunny July morning. The fourth of July. Wendy had just gotten done reciting the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence when I stole her from our party. She seemed happy to finally get some alone time with me.

When I showed her the flowers, she didn't reach her hand out to pick it; her fingers lightly brushed the petals on the top, and she smiled. "They are pretty." She said quietly.

I nodded, and knelt beside her. Suddenly, I felt like a big sister again. "They have special powers, you know." Wendy's eyes became big as she gasped and observed the flower more. "Except, you cannot see it. They are portals, you see."

Wendy's mouth shaped into an O. "What do you mean?"

"They are portals to a place, where everything has a meaning." I tried to think of what Motavato would say. "Where you can paint with these flowers, and your imagination becomes real. Where animals jump from color to color, splashing through the orange waters. Drinking from the waterfall pens."

The wind made the flower sway. Wendy's hand went away from the flower. "Really?" She asked. "That world seems so...amazing. Can we go there?"

I thought about it. "Of course," I made my voice into a whisper. "But right now, there is a battle in this perfect universe. We cannot go until the fighting has stopped. Perhaps, this battle will be too harsh. There might not even be anything left."

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