Featuring the Suggestions of Whitney Tittle.
Scander McAllister rose with the ringing of his alarm and shut it off. He stretched and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. Another day had begun. Everything promised to be perfectly normal, from the way he got dressed and combed his hair, to the fact that the chickens placidly pecked at the corn he scattered for them before making his own breakfast. Scander paused a moment to check the cupboards before leaving for the day. They were looking quite bare, and he would be wanting some hearty stew come dinnertime.
Scander lifted his jacket off the hook by the door and slipped his hands into the sleeves. Immediately, he heard a popping sound as the seams in the shoulders--which had been stretched around his frame for a while now--finally gave out. Scander mentally checked it as one more thing on his list of items to pick up at the market on his way home. He adjusted the scraps of fabric around his shoulders and walked calmly down the lane to the old schoolhouse.
Scander McAllister was the primary schoolteacher for the children of Unigivla. They awaited him now as he approached and took his place at the head of the classroom. He taught letters and figures until the bell rang midday. Then all the children calmly gathered their belongings and departed to spend the afternoon helping their families around the various farms and orchards that made up the small rural town.
Scander strode down to the edge of the woods, where a particularly old tree raised its gnarled roots in the perfect proportions for a comfortable seat. Settling in the crook of a root, Scander opened his pack and pulled out the bread and cheese that served as his noon meal. He definitely felt like a hot soup in the evening... or perhaps fish. He would have to see which was the better price. Once he finished the meal, Scander McAllister brushed the crumbs from his lap and headed out to the Unigivlan Market.
A few hours later, he returned along the same road, headed home after a successful and uneventful day. It was late afternoon, and he would have time to study and read and relax at his home before his supper of freshly-caught fish. Scander traipsed through the woods, listening to the sound of his footsteps in the undergrowth.
Scander stopped; what had made that awful noise? He looked around, but the forest was still. He took another cautious step forward.
Scander blinked; the noise sounded almost human, but he had heard that there were some animals who made that sort of sound when wounded, such as rabbits or deer. He began to consider the possibilities and their ramifications.
It could be a wounded animal... which a predator or a hunter had left behind as bait for a larger animal. Scander saw himself going to rescue the animal and becoming snared for his pains.
Scander shook his head.
There! The sound couldn't possibly be more human! And yet--
It could be a band of ruffians who wailed to lure victims in, and Scander saw himself going to investigate and being robbed of his nice fish and new jacket and the remainder of his week's pay, for his pains.
Scander shook his head again. He still stood there in the middle of the lane, wondering what to do.
At last, Scander McAllister couldn't stand there any longer. He plunged into the brush in search of the source of the noise. He found it not too far in, nestled in a bush at the foot of a tree.
Scander picked it up and cradled it in his arms. It was certainly nothing like he expected, and nothing he was even remotely prepared to deal with in any way at all: A baby boy, abandoned in the forest. Where had he come from? Who had left him, and did they intend to come back? Scander couldn't tell. He held the baby till it quieted, then Scander McAllister pondered what to do.
The 2013 Suggestion Box Series:
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