BRIGHT/INUDATE: Yellow-Brights By Sharon Collins

Word Count 50
By Sharon Collins
Towering waves lashing the cliffside frighten Sister but not me. I know they cannot reach us. I love watching the flashes turn night into day. I love the echoes that boom and bounce off the cave walls. Tonight the storm is more terrible than any I can remember. I am wild with the joy of it. Sister is wild with the terror of it. Singing her fear song louder and louder tying to drown the keening winds, she paces and pants until she is exhausted. I draw her close and wrap her mother’s fur around our heads. It dulls the sound and we sleep.
In the morning, the cloudless blue invites us out. Grabbing my gathering-basket and clam-bowl, we answer. How strange the world looks; I barely recognize the dunes, all flattened and rearranged. Wandering onto the beach, Sister and I notice bits of yellow-bright bobbing along the water’s edge. Glinting gold in the white sea-foam, they remind me of Sister’s eyes in the firelight. Churned from the sea bottom by the wild wind and waves, I think how lucky we are to spy them first. I know they are called Amber, but Mother always called them yellow-brights. First-Wife wore a magical necklace made of them. Only she was allowed, as they are so very precious. Suddenly an idea forms; I grin and shout over the screeching gulls, “Sister, help me! We will have something better to trade than salt!”
Leaping and chasing the floating pebbles, she splashes salty water everywhere. At first, I am unhappy to be so wet, but then I think that maybe this game is a good idea. Sister is beginning to smell like old fish. Tossing our brindled cape aside, I plunge into the chilly waves with her. Together, we play at being seabirds, floating and diving and scooping. Sister snaps at the yellow-bights with her sharp teeth; I with my fingers. I capture and toss mine. Sister dashes and drops hers. When we tire of the game, we collapse onto the warm sand, our noses nearly touching the glowing, golden pile. As the salt dries on my skin and Sister’s fur, I pick bits of seaweed from the yellow-brights and arrange them, biggest to littlest. I am thrilled there are so many, as many as ALL my fingers and toes AND Sister’s claws! Some are round. Some are flat. All are smooth and beautiful and weigh nearly nothing. Dropping them into the basket, I imagine how pleasant my trading pack will be filled with bird-bone sewing tools and precious yellow-brights instead of heavy salt and smelly dried fish.
Realizing I am hungry, I rise and brush away the sand, but I can do nothing about my sticky hair or Sister’s stiffening fur. So together, we search for clam-bubble-holes and our very late breakfast. Clay bowl full, we start the trek back. On the way, I run Sister through the waterfalls shimmering off the cliffside. The rains have swollen them to a pounding strength, enough to hurt my head, but I endure the brief pain to clean the salt from my hair and Sister’s fur. She growls at the hissing walls of fresh water, but for fear that I may disappear, she follows.
Later, seated by the fire, warm and dry, I peer into the largest yellow-bright, big as a gull’s egg. Rolling it round and round in my hand. I enjoy its warmth and the way it swallows up the firelight. Thinking Sister will also enjoy, I rub it back and forth along her muzzle. We both yelp when the yellow-bright crackles and spits the fire back out. I fear we are burned, but strangely, we are not. I do it again. This time only Sister yelps. I laugh and rub it along my hair. It crackles and spits sparks at me as well. “Magic…” I whisper as an image forms in my mind. I see myself arriving at the Clan-Gathering leading a full-grown She-Wolf, pale as moonlight. And we both wear necklaces of precious amber fit only for a Headwoman and her Sister.

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