Friday Fiction: Returning to the Big Rock

Here's another peek at the story of Phoebe.

(Phoebe and Maseppa have left Granny's house because her daughter's family is moving in with her. Although Phoebe knew they were not going back, it hadn't sunk in...until now. See The Big Rock if you want to read about the first time Phoebe is there. )

(I found this picture online, and I got goosebumps.

It's Phoebe's rock!)


Phoebe didn’t want to gather herbs anymore. All she could think of was Granny waiting on the porch steps. Suddenly, a worse thought came. If we don’t go back to Granny’s house, I won’t go back to school! It’s not fair. Why do we have grub around in the woods every year? None of the other children do. Her face grew red, and her eyes burned as the angry thoughts rushed into her mind, like the water rushing over the Falls in the spring. It’s not fair! I hate digging for roots. I hate riding on that bumpy old wagon. I hate Maseppa!

She threw her basket down and stomped over a fallen log and through some sharp hawthorn bushes that scraped her cheek. She trampled the faces of some tiny white star flowers and blue asters, but she didn’t care!

She stood before Maseppa with her hands on her hips, tears streaming. “Maseppa,  I hate you! I don’t want to dig for anymore of your dumb roots! I want to go back! I wish I was Granny’s girl! I want to go to school with Joey and Hector and Gabe and Penny…” She stopped.

Penny wouldn’t be there ... nor Gabe. She had forgotten already!

She turned away and ran. She ran and ran until she couldn’t run anymore. Flinging herself on a bed of soft sphagnum, she sobbed with her whole body. Butch’s wet nose nuzzled her shoulder.

“Leave me alone!” She pushed him away.

He backed off a step and cocked his head.

“Do you hear me? Go away!” She threw a stick at him.

He yelped and trotted off.

Soon the anger subsided, the tears fulfilling their cleansing duty. Not yet ready to go back, she followed the deer trail up the hill to the big rock. Scrambling up its steeps sides, she noticed the crevices were wider. The top of the rock was split into three parts, and the stone was blackened like it had been burnt. She reckoned it was hit by lightning.

A honking overhead made Phoebe look up. She knew it was the gray geese flying south for the winter. She watched the V float on the winds and wished to go with them...somehow. Their cries seemed to be calling her.

Phoebe always felt sad when the wind turned cool, when it blew the yellow and red leaves to the ground. The flowers had gone by, and the birds that had sung to her were traveling south to warmer places. Squirrels and chipmunks worked furiously, hiding nuts and seeds for the winter.

Everything had a place to go, a place to belong; everything... everybody, but Phoebe. Oh, she would never go hungry or freeze. Maseppa would always take care of her, but she wanted a home, a place to go back to when you are tired, cold, and lonesome. She felt like something was calling her…like when Maseppa said, “Ond├ás”… but she didn’t know where to go.

She looked at the far away mountains and wondered how far California was on the other side. Her hair whipped around in the wind. Closing her eyes, she stretched her arms wide. Her dress snapped like the sheets on the clothesline. She could almost imagine herself flying high above the trees. She opened her eyes again and sat down.

Hugging her knees, she curled into a ball against the wind. The sky was grey and cold like pewter. She sat there for hours thinking about Granny and Penny and Gabe. She thought about Zeke and wondered if she would see him again.

Then she didn’t think.

She watched the sun slip down the sky like a copper bead. She didn’t notice the wind had died down and a fog was filling the valley. Its thick grey blanket enveloped all but the tops of the darkening hills. A damp whisper of a breeze made her shiver.

She looked over the edge of the rock and couldn’t even see the floor of the forest. Gripping the rough stone, she dropped. Her foot twisted as she landed, and she gasped in pain. Crouching with the wall of the rock at her back, she rubbed her sore ankle. The fog wrapped around her. She couldn’t see the trees. She couldn’t even see the top of the rock. She tried to listen for the stream, but the fog muffled everything like a woolen scarf.

Limping downhill, she held her arms out before her, walking blindly from tree to tree. She smelled woodsmoke hanging low in the thick air. She heard the whistle of a phoebe. A phoebe wouldn’t be calling around here at night. That must be Maseppa. Soon a yellow firelight shone through the gloom. She was almost there. Butch must have heard her, for he started barking.

As she stepped into the circle of light, Butch gave one short “arf” and wiggled close to her in embarrassed happiness. Maseppa’s eyes met Phoebe’s and filled with relief. Seeing her limp, she settled Phoebe before the fire and fetched a soft blanket from the wagon. As she washed and wrapped the foot in healing leaves, Phoebe’s heart melted in shame.

“I’m sorry I was disrespectful to you, Maseppa.”

Maseppa looked up, and her dark eyes glittered with tears. “I sorry I not make good life for you.”

“Oh, Maseppa. You are very good to me.”

~ ~ ~

Next week, I'm taking a trip back to Hoag's Corners, where I lived for a few years. I'm going to wander the same roads that Maseppa and Phoebe traveled. I'll take lots of pictures and notes.  I'm hoping to come home with more ideas and dreams than I can that they will spill out into my writing.

For more great stories, go to Karlene's Homespun Expressions . Be sure to leave some comments.

If you haven't already done so, please vote for my Smory "A Squirrel Got in the House"

1 comment:

Stina Rose said...

Home is where the heart is. I'm glad that Phoebe learned a little of that lesson. By the way... you're smorie is supper cute!


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