The Worrywart and the Cave

Today’s Word of the Day prompt is GALLERY. I was dismayed when I saw this word, wondering what I could ever write about a gallery. My only thought being art gallery, until I checked with Merriam-Webster and learned that an art gallery is only #4 on their seven-point list of definitions.

The preeminent meaning is: a covered promenade or corridor.
The second is an outdoor balcony, porch, or veranda
The third is a long, narrow passage, even a subterranean passageway in a cave or a mine shaft. Ah! A twinkle’s coming through…

One definition is: “the highest balcony in a theater commonly having the cheapest seats
b : the part of a theater audience seated in the top gallery
c : the undiscriminating general public”
This variation brought to mind an expression we teens used half a century ago:
“No comments from the peanut gallery.”

Now that I have a wider range to work with and the twinkling of an idea, I’ll begin my response to the prompt.

The Worrywart and the Cave

“Just discovered it last week and went through again yesterday,” Ozzie told his sweetheart, “It’s absolutely gorgeous down there, and no one else has found it yet. Come on, I’ll show it to you.”

Polly frowned. “Are you sure it’s safe? What if we get lost?”

“The path is easy to follow and I’ve got a great flashlight. Trust me, it’ll be perfectly safe. Listen, sweetie, being a worrywart is a drag. You can’t always think about what might go wrong or you’ll never try anything. You’ll miss out on LIFE. Come on, let’s check it out.”

A few hours later they parked in a secluded spot not far from the cave entrance and set out on their spelunking adventure. Polly grabbed her purse as they left they car.

“Surely you’re not going to take your purse along? It’ll just be a weight you don’t need.”

“I’m not leaving it in the car. Someone might steal it.”

Ozzie rolled his eyes. “There’s no one else anywhere near here. You worry about the silliest things.”

“I’m taking it. A girl never knows when she’ll need a tissue or something.”

Fifteen minutes later the couple was deep inside the cave. Polly followed Ozzie through the gallery with a little stream flowing beside it. “Don’t you think we should have brought another flashlight, just in case,” she asked.

Ozzie groaned. “This has lots of power left. Stop fretting and enjoy the scenery!”

A moment later the passageway opened up in front of them and they saw the most beautiful display of natural architecture. Ozzie’s flashlight played on the stalagmites and stalactites in intriguing formations. “And here we are. Didn’t I tell you it was awesome? Nature’s limestone gallery in grand display!”

Polly gasped. “This is so amazing!” She looked at the clear pool of water beside the ledge they stood on. “That must be the purest water ever. Do you think anything lives in there?”

“Can you imagine anything living in this kind of darkness?” He shut off his flashlight.

“Now, aren’t you glad you came? You wouldn’t want to miss an adventure like this.”

“Oh,” Polly squealed. “Be careful. It’s so black!”

“Absolutely devoid of any light” Ozzie spread his arms enthusiastically. The hand holding the flashlight bashed against the cave wall. There was a metallic clunk and a splash.

Polly screamed. “What was that? Ozzie, turn the light on!”

“Uh… That was the light. I banged my hand on the wall and lost my grip.”

“Oh, no! What’ll we do? How will we find our way out?” Polly’s voice rang with terror.

“Not to worry. We’ll just turn around and follow the ledge back out again. Easy peasy.”

Polly heard Ozzie moving and guessed he’d turned around. She squeezed against the cave wall to let him pass.

He brushed by her. “Just follow the sound of my voice and we’ll be out of here…aaah!” Polly heard a big splash, then a lot of floundering.

“S-s-slippery. I…fell in,” Ozzie gasped in the darkness. More splashing. “It’s deep…and so cold. Where’s the ledge? I can’t find it.”

Polly sighed, then groped in her purse and pulled out the little flashlight she always carried. She clicked it on and the cave was dimly lit. She set the light carefully on the ledge and reached into her purse again.

“Grab hold of this and hang on,” she ordered, tossing Ozzie a length of nylon rope.

A few minutes later he was sitting on the ledge, dripping wet and shivering.

Polly picked up the flashlight. “We’d better get out of here. You’ll want to get changed.”

Ozzie nodded and shivered some more. Then he got up and stumbled along the gallery behind Polly.

As they made their way to the car, Polly suggested, “Maybe we worrywarts are such a drag because we haul along all the things we might need in an emergency?”

“Yeah. I don’t suppose you have a towel in there, too?”

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