Posted by: endithinks | September 27, 2010

9/27/2010 flash fiction

In a tiny fishing village named Seljun, there lived a young girl whose name was Pepper.  She was seven years old and had hair the color of hay.  The village was home to sixty-five souls and Pepper was one of the eight children the village had been able to save.

Pepper loved to skip and jump rope.  She had a laugh that could waken the dead and the villagers all loved her like their own daughter.  She was in fact the village’s daughter as her parents had both passed in the flood one year after her birth.   She had grown up amongst the seagulls and the sea lions drifting from house to house as she learned every lesson the village taught her.  She was kind, noble, self-sacrificing, and a friend to any who needed her, however she could not fish.

Pepper tried to fish.  She tried every Sunday with the same results.  She cast out her borrowed line and attached it to the bow of her ship just like she’s seen the old fishermen do every day since she was born.  She had a hook on a stick, her bait, her net and she even had a special fishing hat she had made herself from seal leather and string, but every Sunday the line would come back to her borrowed boat empty.

The village used to laugh it off when she was young.  They called her “Fish Away Pepper,” and they made jokes about her fish scaring tactics.  But as she got older, the laughs started turning into chuckles, and then they stopped turning into anything.

On Pepper’s sixteenth birthday she was asleep in the house of the village medicine woman, a crone named Ash when she was awoken by a pounding on the small hut that Ash kept on the edge of the village.  Pepper jumped up and went to the door holding Ash back as something seemed different this time.

Pepper yelled through the door asking who it was and the reply was another loud rapping on the door with an exclamation Pepper had never heard before.  Ash stepped back shaking her head and told Pepper that she had better let the villagers in.

There were four of them and they were all greybeards.  Pepper had no idea why they had come, but they made it clear with a few gestures and that word again.  She asked what that word was and why they kept using it, but they didn’t reply.  One of the greybeards simply pointed to her and told her to follow him.

They came to the edge of the lookout cliff and the sun was peeking over the horizon.  The elder told Pepper that the villagers were starting to say things about her that she was starting to scare the fish away.  She laughed thinking this was some sort of maidenhood joke, but the elder stared straight into the eastern skyline and repeated the word again.  Pepper was starting to not like that word and she asked him what it meant again.

“Journey.”

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