Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Suggestion Box, Vol. 3: "One Thousand Words" List #48


Suggested by: Claerie Kavanaugh


The List:
-Faith
-a rural village
-midday
-wyvern


The Result:
                              "Adventure Comes To Tea"


In a rural village just outside of Scrabster, Scotland, Cordelia Quincy sat down in her kitchen to a freshly-brewed cup of tea. She looked forward to this midday ritual, her moment of solace in the midst of the hustle and bustle of every day.

Faith Dunmore had called. She would be visiting her friend, Darren Alexander, next Thursday, and she wondered if Cordelia might like to come out and visit them, to reminisce about old times and the adventures they had together.


The eccentric woman smiled as she sipped her black tea. She almost missed those days of keeping watch, hearing prophecies, and dreaming of the fulfillment of her family’s legacy. Now that it was over, she found it almost difficult to resume normal life in the quiet countryside, where the most exciting thing to happen was someone’s livestock getting loose and going for a jaunt two farms over—and even that did not happen often enough to keep the restless woman happy.

“Why can’t there be more dragons in the world?” she sighed. Perhaps she would accept Faith’s invitation after all.


Cordelia crossed the kitchen to the blocky white plastic telephone hanging in its cradle mounted upon the wall. As she picked up the receiver, her eyes roved over the garden outside—

And the grubby young boy disentangling himself from the wisteria.

Phone call forgotten, Cordelia charged out the garden door. The boy must have seen her coming, because he was halfway across the yard by the time she reached the threshold.

“You!” Cordelia cried, because she didn’t know how else to get his attention, “Stay! Wait!”

The boy disappeared down the dirt path leading through the forest behind her house. Cordelia stopped and winced as a sharp rock menaced her bare feet. Some part of her considered going back to the house for her shoes, but the part that won out was the part that threw caution and sensibility to the wind and took off down the forest path.


“Wait!” She called again. “I’m a friend! Why are you running?”


Where had he gone? Cordelia could see small footprints in the mud. Evidently, the boy had more practice at hiding his body than covering his trail. She soon found him, huddled in the crook of a tree, high up out of sight of most people—but Cordelia never considered herself “most people.” She stopped and watched him hold very still as if he hoped she didn’t actually see him.


“Hello,” she called.

“Go away!” he grunted.


Cordelia only smiled at him. He couldn’t have been more than twelve years old, and she rather liked his unruly mop of nut-brown hair.

“If you didn’t want me to follow you, then you shouldn’t have cut through my yard,” she noted brightly.

The boy hung his head. “Didn’t know it was yours.”


“Well, it wasn’t the forest, so it had to belong to somebody. You’re just lucky it wasn’t Mr. George’s; he probably would have shot you for trespassing.”


The eyes came up, pointed at her so keenly that she could almost make out their smoky blue color, even from this distance. He looked pained.


“Poor thing,” Cordelia said softly, “are you hurt?”


“Not me.” The blue eyes disappeared, and the boy looked like he wanted to shrink again.


“I am Cordelia,” she moved on, still standing under the tree. “What is your name?”


The eyes came out again, a bit mystified at the way she persisted in talking to him.

“David,” he murmured.


“Would you like to be my friend, David?”


The confusion ran deeper still. “I suppose.”


“Don’t you want to be friends?” Cordelia raised her eyebrows innocently.

“Been just fine without ‘em,” David said, with just a hint of sulk behind his words.


“Oh!” Cordelia’s expression widened in shock. “Don’t you have any friends at all?”


David sat up, still on his perch, but he let his feet dangle, swinging them easily in the air. “Got me one friend,” he said proudly, “and that’s plenty.”


Cordelia smiled and gestured back to the house, hoping she read him correctly. “Well, David, I was just about to have some tea. If I offered some to you, would you be friends with me?”

David wrinkled his nose and giggled. “Don’t like tea,” he said.


Cordelia smiled wider; progress was progress! “But surely you know what comes with the tea, don’t you?” she backed up a few steps.


Sure enough, David dropped down to the very lowest branch, to stay near her. “Don’t know what you mean,” he said, in a voice that told Cordelia he might be imagining that very thing right now.


“It’s never just tea,” she assured him. “Sometimes there are sandwiches, or biscuits, or cakes—or all three.” She was backing up steadily now, and he was following, step by hesitant step. She saw the way his eyes bulged and his mouth danced at the thought of food. The poor thing probably hadn’t had a decent meal in a long while—terrible shame for a growing boy!


“All three?” he repeated.


“Yes.” Slowly, Cordelia held out her hand to him. He was close enough to touch her now. “Would you like that?”


David was in the act of raising his hand when—

“My friend,” he dropped his hand and glanced back toward the forest. “He might not like it; I told him I wouldn’t leave.”


Cordelia wasn’t about to lose this boy who positively reeked of adventure. “Your friend can come too!” She promised.


David grinned at her, and the blue eyes danced under the shaggy curls. “No, he really couldn’t,” he said, snickering at some hidden joke.


“Why not?” Cordelia very much wanted to know what the joke was.


“He’s hurt, and that’s why I’ve got to stay.” David planted his feet, and he wasn’t about to budge an inch further.


Cordelia dropped the pleading demeanor and became at once more firm. “Now then, David,” she said, gesturing behind him. “We are in my yard; are you coming in or not?”


David looked around in surprise. He never realized they had moved—and she had brought him all the way out of the forest without forcing! He sighed. “Oh all right—but only for sandwiches and cakes.”


Cordelia grinned and marched toward the house. “You shall have them all, my lad!” she cried.



[…]



“That was delicious, Miss Cordelia,” David murmured, wiping the crumbs from the corners of his mouth. “Now I reckon I better get back to my friend before—“


The sound as if an entire house of glass collapsed on itself rang out through the streets. Cordelia flinched and cringed in alarm, but David bounded to his feet. Outside, people began screaming.


“Oh no,” David muttered. “I knew this was a bad idea! I knew he would come looking for me!”


“Who?” Cordelia flew to the window to see what was the matter.


“My friend!” David cried.


Cordelia stood outside her front door and surveyed the source of all this chaos. She smiled; her wish had come true, after all!


“Why, David,” she prodded the stricken young boy beside her, “all this time, you never once told me that your friend was an actual wyvern!” She couldn’t take her eyes off the magnificent creature--nor the dark-colored wound in its side.


David glanced at her with apprehension. “Will you help him, then?”