This flash fiction friday was inspired by a Pinterest find. I have no rights to the picture, and no idea who drew it, so I’ll merely link to it. I humbly suggest you look at it before reading. Click here to see my inspiration piece.
It was a sharp, bright, cold day in October when the whispers disappeared.
Suddenly everyone in the village could only talk loudly and roughly, even the kindest and most courteous people. And according to the messenger crows, things were the same across the countryside.
Marianna, of course, felt she must do something. So she darted into the lane before her mother could yell for her to help fix tea.
She met Ben at their usual place, but it’s not easy to form a secret plan to save the world when obliged to shout at one another, so they wrote it all down, and then ate the scraps of paper.
Two days’ journey away, they came to a shop sign that read: “Farley and Sons; We Sell Whispers Here.”
Excited, they each turned over carefully hoarded silver coins for the tiny white flowers that the grubby man said would soften their voices.
It worked, and they whispered about frogs, and games, and dreams softly on the Moors that night, cautious lest the jabber-wolf should hear them.
All was well ’til 2, when Marianna’s eyes flew open to a dark patch in the brilliant white of the stars.
She bolted up. It was a jabber-wolf, slowly drawing Ben into its claw range with honeyed words, for the creature could only eat a willing victim. She dropped her flower at once.
“Ben, wake up!” She cried at the top of her lungs.
“Silly girl,” the creature hissed softly. “It only works if you hold the flower! And then, ONLY it works.”
She looked at Ben in horror. His flower was gripped tightly in his hand. He would hear all she said in whispers and if she touched him, she’d be caught too.
Grabbing desperately, she found the amulet she often fingered at her throat and ripped it off.
“This one who holds my heart, if I have his too, bring him back to You.” She breathed out the ancient prayer. And if it came out in a shout, so much better to express her desperation.
A bright light filled the dark moor as the dark shape of the jabber-wolf engulfed her only friend. Gram had said to use the charm only for her heart’s true love and not ’til she was grown. Yet here she was, 10, and sure that this boy was the only heart she’d want to hold.
The brilliant clash of dark against the light faded into a gray sort of night, cloudy but not wet. But the only thing left on the moor before her was a bold, red heart that had been Ben’s. It gripped the small white flower stubbornly and looked up at her, forlorn. She’d been too late.
A single tear pricked her eye as she reached down and took its small, spidery black hand and they walked away into the night.
As the night deepened, the green grass seemed almost blue beneath their feet and the wind began to whisper their story across the moor to the trees and the tall rushes. They rushes rustled around their feet, parting gently as the pair ascended a hill that was taller than the others. At the top they stood wearily and watched the dark sky as the wind scattered the clouds and the silver sliver of moon slipped through.
Lowering, that graceful Lady looked upon them in her glowing evening dress and smiled sadly before she began to play for them her night song.
The tune was haunting with sorrow and hope and flooded around them in a swirl of feeling.
And Marianna knew if she must stand there her whole life in the white shift that let in the rain and snow that would bedraggle her long, dark hair, she would if the hope of the song would come true and she would see Ben healed.