Written with my Thursday night group with the prompts: charisma often glitters, fished, kind of like entering heaven, clear lake, exciting day, apprenticing one’s self to a human, lives in the mountain, don’t burn yourself, relationships, notice what you notice, laughter broke out, magic, a tall woman
A tall woman lives up the mountain in a cabin she painted sky blue with yellow trim. I’ve seen her coming down in her khakis and olive drab jacket to fish in the lake at the bottom of the trail, not the clear lake crowded with tourists, but the cloudy one, no bigger than a puddle that stretches like a figure eight around the redwoods and pines.
Mama didn’t believe me when I old her I’d seen her fishing. “No fish in that pond,” she told me. “Plus it’s dirty as week-old bath water. You’d be looking to waste time if you dip your line in that water.”
Still I saw, sometimes on Tuesdays, often on Thursdays, maybe Saturdays too. She was taller than most men, with white blonde hair and cornflower blue eyes. I followed her more than once to watch her stand on the shore and cast off as quick and easy as could be, and sometimes she sat down, the pole in both hands, her eyes narrowed to a slit and she’d chant a song in her deep voice, be like something to sway to, and the words sounded Hawaiian or Spanish or like the way bright colors might sound if deep purple and fuchsia pink could sing in our ears instead of our eyes. Then as she sang, the fish would start coming and she’d catch three or four. Big fish like bass or trout, and she’d pack ‘em up in her basket and lope off with her long-legged gait.
I watched her for weeks because I wanted to apprentice myself to somebody, but I wasn’t sure who she was or what she was with her pale skin and large hands and pink painted nails. I kept myself hidden but she heard me one day, one Tuesday, early in the sunlight. “Don’t burn yourself,” she called to me. She touched the brim of her wide hat. “It’s smart to cover up.” Her voice was deep like a man’s.
I came out of the woods then and stood before her. She cast her eyes downward. “Notice what you notice,” she said softly.
I said nothing but I knew she was magic. She had a rough jaw and square shoulders like a man but she had a softness about her that was very feminine. She was a double spirit, a miracle among my people, an overcoming of duality. I wanted to ask so much, but I had no words. She leaned forward and offered me a fish, spread on a navy bandana. She was dressed modestly as if she wanted to blend into the trees, but she had a charisma that glittered. I decided to trust her. I took the fish in my hands and ate beside her.
“I’m not very good at relationships,” she said softly, “but you’ll be my friend, won’t you?”
Laughter broke out, and I knew it was the crows, amused by my naivete. I left the bones to the flock and darted back up the tree. That was enough for one exciting day.“Come again, little one,” she called in her sweet baritone. I wanted to trust her, I wanted to follow. It felt kind of like entering heaven, if heaven were here on this planet.
Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash