Word Count 499
By Sharon Collins
The long-necked, honking-birds have finished journeying toward the Land of the Endless-Ice. The danger of river-floods is past and the humming-biters no longer feed on me and make me itch. My fingers are the color of the sky from picking berries that grow on the low bushes. The long days are very warm, and the short nights are only a little cold as I prepare to make my own journey to the Great Clan-Gathering. Sadly, I must journey alone, as Sister has been gone from me for three turns of the moon. I have wished and wished that she would return. I speak to Mother’s Spirit each darkness before I sleep. I share with her my wish. Each waking, before I open my eyes, I reach for Sister’s warmth beside me. When I find her missing still, I understand, but I am still very sad.
While I have waited for her, I have worked hard to prepare my trade-goods for the journey. For many sunrises after the mighty wave, yellow-brights swam to our beach. I wove three baskets from sea-grass to collect them and keep them safe. When I am most lonely for Sister, I spill them near the flames and watch them swallow and spit the firelight. They make me think of the small, dancing fliers that blink in the grasses after the sun as gone to sleep. I have washed each yellow-bright, and I have put the large ones together and the small ones together in their own baskets. I will trade them for a new clay bowl and a better cutting tool, one made from the shiny black stone with the sharp, sharp edges. I have also made a special basket for the yellow-brights with bumpy hides. From them, I will make another necklace and trade it for something pleasing.
I may trade it for another necklace of the pretty, white pebbles sometimes found inside the dark clams, the ones that taste the best. Or, maybe I will trade it for a firestone! I know of these magic stones which can be knocked together to create a newborn flame. Our Wise-Man had one. How good it would be to no longer fear that my fire will die. I have also my bone sewing-tools to trade, and of course, I have many white rabbit furs and even a little salt. In the time just after the mighty wave, I collected the salt drying on the stones at the waves’ edge. Mother told me the Clans of the Pine-Forest, the Grass-Sea, and the Endless-Ice, always desire salt from Clans of the Great-Water.
I feel very pleased with myself as I prepare my bundles and place them in the hide I will carry on my back. Smiling, I wrap myself in the brindled fur of Sister’s Mother and close my eyes. I will travel to the Great Clan-Gathering even if I must travel alone; even if I never have the chance to sing my own clan’s name in wolf-song.