One Word prompts yesterday and today: oak and shower
Sunday Scribbling prompt: hunger
Nissa woke to rain dripping off the leaves of the ivy that had grown lovingly around the giant old oak. She had curled up in the cradle made by roots that had wandered out and down through the cool dirt. Leaves that had fallen over years and velvety moss had made this a favorite summer spot to daydream. Daydream and watch the old man work his garden. She had spent more and more time here lately. Her mum had changed and while she was never mean, she was just sort of not there. Nissa couldn’t really put a name on it, she frightened her. She used to sing while she worked and she would hug Nissa and chase her around the yard laughing, more like a sister than a mother.
These days she just went through the motions. The house was clean and supper was cooked, but she never smiled or sang and when she wasn’t working she would sit at the table and stare at the fire as though she were waiting for something. She never spoke unless you asked her a question. Nissa shivered though the shower that had blown up wasn’t cold. She sat up and scooted up closer to the trunk where she could watch the rain but stay dry . The smell of the rain on the dirt, honeysuckle from somewhere nearby, and the wet herbs in the garden filled her nostrils and she closed her eyes and breathed it in. She felt much better out here, away from the house and her mother and whatever it was that seemed to be hanging over their heads like a dark and heavy cloud.
She heard a door shut and opened her eyes. The old man was sitting on the porch with a bowl and hunk of bread. Her mouth started to water and she realized that it had been hours since breakfast. “Are you hungry girl?” said the old man. “There is plenty if you will come sit.”
She hesitated. She always felt safe and peaceful here and her instincts had never brought her harm. She liked coming here and if he told her to stay away she would have nowhere else to go. She weighed all that against her empty belly and stood up and walked to his porch. “You are Nissa.” He said. She jerked her head up in surprise. He had not only known she was there but he knew her name as well! “I am Simon.” he said and he held out a bowl of stew to her. She took the bowl, thanking him and he gestured to a seat and another piece of bread. She sat down and they ate in silence. She mopped up the rest of the liquid in her bowl with the last of her bread and sighed in contentment.. Simon handed her his bowl and asked her to set them in the washpan in the house.
She stepped in the room and it took a moment for her eyes to adjust and then they widened in curiosity? Delight? She didn’t know where to look first! There were drawings and stuffed birds, carvings and odd stones of all shapes and colors. She remembered she was holding the bowls and carefully put them in the tub of water. She backed towards the door, wishing to explore but not wanting to be rude. “Who was this Simon?” She wondered.
When she stepped outside, Simon had his eyes closed and his head leaned up against the wall, The rain had stopped and the sun showed wrinkled skin, translucent and almost glowing from within in the sunlight. His white hair was long but braided and he smelled like Rosemary. She sat down in the sun near him and he began to tell her about the plants in his garden. She had been watching him tend them, trimming some that got too adventuresome and pulling weeds from around others that seemed to prefer their space. He often hummed and sometimes spoke quietly as he cared for them.
“There is a heartbeat to the earth and if you listen carefully, you will hear it beating in a garden. The seasons have a rhythm all their own and the earth will speak to you. Whatever you give, you get back so much more.” He told of plants that were for healing, plants that made food taste better, and some that were for love and beauty.
“I like the ones you can eat, the best.” Nissa told him. Simon smiled and said that the earth would feed more than just your belly. “That may be so,” Nissa said, “but it’s hard to think of anything else if you are hungry.” She looked away from him as she said it.
“Then you may come to this garden anytime you wish.” Simon said.
“Will you teach me how things grow?” she asked..
“Yes child, but it is work and you have to be willing.” He smiled seeing more than she knew. Simon saw that she was strong and brave and would not be able to resist a challenge. He had dreamed of a child for the last few nights, and of something dark that she was running from. He couldn’t see clearly yet, just what it was. He only knew that he must help her and that he had to go slow so that whatever it was would not awaken before he had taught her enough to help him defeat it.
“I can do anything you ask me to do.” she said proudly and maybe a bit defensively. She had her chin stuck out as though she was daring him to disagree. Simon just smiled and said “Then I shall see you tomorrow.” Though she didn’t want to, she squared her shoulders and headed towards her home. She didn’t want him to know how scared she was of going back to her mother and she was afraid that he would find out that something was wrong there and send her away. She would show him that she could help. She would make herself indispensable and then he would never send her away and she would have a place to go, to be, to grow. She even whistled a bit on the way home. The sound died on her lips as she reached the house. She quietly slipped around back and through the window into her room so that she wouldn’t have to see the vacant stare in her mother’s eyes. She quietly wrapped herself in her quilt and as the sky grew dark, she huddled in the corner of her bed and finally fell into a troubled sleep.