The days are darkening. I bought some Christmas lights (known as “fairy lights” here, I think) and hung them up in our entranceway, where they create a golden glow. It’s been a week of grim clouds overhead and cold rain glistening on sidewalks, but the sun came out today to make shadow-patterns through the leaves.
The brilliance of scholars and artists here continues to dazzle me with tales of labyrinths and facades of the “real,” Biblical gardens and seas, pilgrimages and peregrinations. This week’s contribution to the Thresholds project also dazzles me: Reagan Dregge’s piece takes us on a mysterious journey through an unknown land. Enjoy!
by Reagan Dregge
Dear Reader, The following is a mere fragment of a much longer tale, in which a young warrior must flee from a murderous enemy. Her only hope lies across a wild and lonely plain….
Trinith rode for a night and a day without resting, her jaw set northward. Narrows broadened, steeps shallowed. The gravel under her horse’s hooves echoed off the canyon walls, and the wind wrapped around her like her cloak, cooing in her ears and whispering to her loosened hair. Rocky ground gradually gave way to burned stubble and prickly shrubs. The rusted and purpled landscape faded to mute brown and yellow-gray. The sky, which she could see more of now without the mountain crevices framing her view, was wide and round above, but pale and hazy and endless.
She followed a scant trail across the plain. She wasn’t sure whether the trail was made by man or beast. Hunched over Zephyr’s neck, her belly uncomfortably round with child, she gripped the saddle and took another swallow from her canteen. The second night, she was forced to stop, to let the horse eat and rest her own muscles. A muddy creek hedged a few strands of dead grass, and she refilled her water. In the morning they pressed on.
On the fourth day dark figures appeared on the horizon. They were people, not trees. As they got closer she could see they headed east, and there were four or five of them. She doubted they were bandits. She kept her heading, and they kept theirs, passing before her and away with little more than a stare. Those were the only people she encountered on the plain, though she occasionally found marks and remnants of previous travelers’ camps.
Occasionally the ground would rise and swell like the crest of a wave carrying her and Zephyr along. The wind blew without obstacle now, and its sound was a moan that rose and fell and rose again, bending the thorny brush and thin, twisted trees. Her face felt numb from the relentless blast, her lips were dry and cracked, her eyes stung. A cloud of birds passed above them once at dawn, raucous and shifting. Now she traveled by night and rested in the early part of the day. She was able to snare a few rabbits and one grouse. The haze never seemed to lift, but she could make out the full moon’s blurry orb through its veil. That night coyotes cackled in the distant dark, and she had to dismount to calm Zephyr’s snorting and stamping.
The days were growing shorter, and the wind colder. One morning there was a silver frost spidering across the ground. The sun rose in a clear blue sky and hovered with a lucid burning glare. Far ahead a dark band cut across the plain. They had come to the river.
Reagan loves names and words and stories. She once studied creative writing and theatre arts, but today she homeschools, writes handwritten letters, and salvages her own little house on the prairie with a husband, daughter, and multiplying menagerie (one cat, two dogs, a dwarf netherland rabbit, and a small flock of chickens). Her favorite seasons are winter, spring, summer, and fall. Follow her blog, The Grace Book, to read more of her work.