Word Count 499
Chapter 20 – Inspiration
By Sharon Collins
In this time of cold winds and raging storms, I am ever grateful to live with Yysha and my children in her cave above the waves. Yysha knows the magic of fire and its warmth and light are generous gifts when the nights are even colder and darker than the days. The girls have done their penance and Yysha has forgiven them or maybe she has just grown used to the emptiness left by Storm’s passing. We do not speak of him or that horrible night, but I notice that Yysa always touches her lips to his clay image just before she lies down to sleep each night. She may forgive but I do not believe she will ever forget. From her earlier time, she knows the pain of being the one not welcomed.
Today, the girls and I hunt the long-ears who turn white with the cold. We each catch one. Before I can stop Frost, she eats most of hers, coating her muzzle with red warmth that steams in the sharp air. I do not reprimand her. Frost listens not. Shadow and I bring ours to Yysha hoping she would roast them over her wonderful fire. Raw meat is good but roasted fat is better we have learned.
When we return she is kneeling before the fire carefully adding her heating stones to a bowl of water and stirring in shreds of bark from the long-hair-trees. The hot smell is harsh and I feel fear. She makes this tea only when she is hurt. Sniffing again, I smell blood. Her blood. Dropping the long-ear, I hurry close. Yes, there is blood on her arm, a lot of blood. ‘How?’ I question, my mind pressing into hers. She tells me of the fall. Deep in the cave, is a warm chamber where she has been spending much time of late. I followed her once and watched as she did the strangest thing. Scraping a lump of dead-fire along the wall of the cave, she brought forth the image of Storm! Seeing the connection between the bumps and cracks in the stone, she captured the hunch of his shoulder, the hollow of his belly, and the stretch of his neck with strokes of black. In the flicker of firelight, he looks as if he might leap from the wall right into her arms.
As the time of cold lengthened, Yysha began practicing this magic often, calling forth the spirits of all creatures. Now there are long-ears, tree-climbers, forest-cats, jumping fish, gulls, and more I do not have names for. She has given Storm’s spirit many companions to play with. Today, while we hunted, she climbed upon a jumble of stones loosened when the earth shook. She reached to capture the outstretched wings of a gull along a high crack in the wall when the slippery stones shifted and she fell. Yysha finishes her tea and then takes me to see. Blood mixed with mud makes the most wonderful color.