The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was MORASS — rather like a cross between a MARSH and a MESS. 🙂
This prompt led me through trees to a low, muddy spot where spring runoff collected and stagnated until the June sun evaporated it. There I spied a young lady lost in this unfamiliar land and heard some of her plight. I sat down and whacked out this story, but then we went to town and I never got it posted. Now here I am finally with my response to the RDP.
Ginny wandered through the scraggly poplar woods for hours hoping to find a trail, but all she found was a morass of mud and rotten leaves, a low spot where winter snows had made a shallow pond. She realized the only way around it would mean fighting through willow and dogwood thickets. These had sprung up over the years as birds and beasts, attracted to the spring pond, had dropped around it seeds from their fur or feathers.
Sadly she turned back to the dry ground she’d just traipsed through, then decided to try circling part of the quagmire. Another time when she’d been with her brother when he’d taken his oxen to a pond for a drink, he’d pointed out a trail through the woods. He explained how deer and other animals made trails like that to watering holes. “But beware,” he warned, “because wolves use these trails, too.”
Perhaps animals had made a trail to this pond. She gathered up her long skirt again and began to make her way around the clumps of brush. It didn’t take long until she did discover a narrow trail. She thought about those wolves. Or even deer.
“Mother deer can be very protective,” Herb had said. “You don’t want to pester one guarding her fawn, or you’ll feel her sharp hooves.”
For a moment she gave in to the despair she felt about this her whole situation. Anger flared, too. It was beastly of father to gamble away everything they had! Now mother was in a pension for impoverished gentlewomen and she’d been shipped off to Canada, a nuisance to Herb and his new wife. And now she’d made things worse by getting lost in this forest.
She considered her options: turn back and keep wandering, lost, through the woods until they came searching for her–or some animal did her in. Or she could take this trail and pray it would lead her out of the woods and she’d meet no vicious creatures on the way. She felt the urge to try. She had no clue where it would lead her, but at least she could walk on the path’s packed ground instead of crunching over layers of leaves and twigs. Hopefully it would lead her out of these smothering woods.
Following the trail for what seemed like an hour, she reached a clearing. Some homesteader had cut down the trees here for his stove; only the stumps remained. Part of clearing his 160 acres. And father on, she could see a green field, maybe his very first crop coming up.
Ginny threw up her arms in a gesture of rejoicing, and resolved to never go wandering in these woods again. She may not like being here in Chesterville, living in a four-room house with her brother and his wife, but she wasn’t ready to die, either.