Morning came early this day, disturbing a blanket of darkness. It approached as a ball of molten fluid, something like an egg yolk providing a spectacular point of view.
Silhouettes evaporated alongside the tree-banked shore line, while an overview of the island showed undulating fields of green, a ribbon of spruce colliding with ridges and valleys, sprinkled with pot-shots of water holes, some larger than others.
Stretching limbs are the only movements in this peaceful estate, as two humans, one a man, and the other, a woman, unravel themselves, from a bed of moss they lay on throughout the night. Both are attired in a one piece light-green material.
It clings to their bodies as an outer layer of skin, protecting them neck to toe, from clutching branches, piercing mosquitoes and wayward rocky soil in addition to any bacterial attachments.
The man is named Papa.
The woman is named Mama.
And their Family is interspersed nearby.
Their four siblings no longer suckle, and their growth into maturity already established them as independent units. Training in self-reliance is constantly tested as they pursue new trails; often reminded the Family is their source of strength and protection.
They too are garmented in the same fabric, self-regulated, insulated from cold and coated with water resistant fibers. Openings in their suits provide for natural needs.
Sareen is a girling of sixteen seasons.
Walo is a man-to-be-son of thirteen seasons.
Tei is a middle son of almost eleven seasons.
And E‚lo is a child-son of nine difficult seasons.
Sareen thinks about the forest. It goes on forever. What adventures will mar her thoughts today? She is impatient. Cantankerous. Too often her vexations are directed against her younger siblings.
She has spent the nighttime, apart from Mama and Papa, with her back firmly against a tree, her usual sleeping position. To follow her own path is her middle name. What wild beasts lurk in these parts cause anxious moments as they overtake her thoughts?
Walo is unsure of himself. Being the eldest of three male siblings is too much of a burden. He does not enjoy the responsibility of caring for younger ones.
During the nights he alone among the siblings remains a few feet away from the sleeping forms of Papa and Mama. Security is his mantra, making sure he never strays too far from the shelter of the Family.
Tei is the quiet one. He discerns before making any decision and his lean-to is methodical, one slim limb placed carefully at a time, creating a firm shelter. His slanted roof is covered with spruce boughs stick ends facing the sky.
He doesn‚t mind drifting afar from the Family. He is a quiet protector; words are not his passion.
Tei enjoys responsibility and adventure. His sleeping habitat is usually in the crook of a tree, where he can spy out the countryside. He is the unofficial sentry a siren of urgency should there be any potential threat. So far the only assailants are hordes of winged blood sucking creatures desiring the remainder of their rich blood.
E‚lo is the self-declared leader of the sibling males, even though they disagree. He continuously leads them into danger. Whether it is running away to seek higher levels between a ridge or climbing slender tops of wavering birches.
He continues to be a serious concern to the Family. However their love for him is unquenchable. He brings substance into their daily lives.
After returning from ablutions, the six Family members gather in a circle. There is no need for speech, since they can communicate through reading thoughts. And a cacophony of arm and facial movements accompany their intermingling gestures, each sibling anxious to make their point heard.
‚Enough‚ comes quickly from Papa. When such a thought formulates as a command, siblings listen immediately. It is not allowed to dare question his authority. Mama also has such esteem among Family members.
Breakfast is eggs from their chicken roost, and bacon from the cellar dug out. Flat stones become their stove and the fire the result of friction fed to dried grass, and birch bark. Larger wood limbs are collected to sustain the hot fireplace.
After enriching their bodily needs the four siblings escape into the domain of their separate space.
Within eyesight four creatures observe:
a python licks his lips then slithers towards Sareen; a poisonous spider leaps in short hops towards Walo; a bear crouching in the shadows has plans for Tei; and an eagle drops like a stone heading towards E‚lo.
Papa and Mama are fully aware. Their senses are acute and all they can do is to be patient. Knowing their offspring are in danger is the most unpleasant of task as their siblings learn to sustain themselves away from the Family.
How else are they to grow in wisdom and be capable of having a Family of their own? The waiting will not be long.
The python is a rambling belly of in-satiated hunger. The creature is a whisper of movement as it gathers its eighteen-foot bulk, and squeezes delicately between stalwart trees, closer ever so closer to S who stares off into the distance.
Thoughts discover its mind, as Sareen directs a question. ‚Why must you play games with me? You know you‚re not allowed to cause me harm.‚
But this time the python coils itself in an aggressive stance and hisses menacingly, with its own thought patterns. ‚But you are too far away from the Family for them to be of help,‚ and lunges awkwardly at his prey.
Sareen easily ducks the creature‚s thrust, and the flickering tongue, which tries to wrap itself around her ankle. She trips, rolls and runs screaming back to the safety of Family.
Mama and Papa surround their sobbing child with loving arms. All the bravado and obstinacy Sareen recently had disappears, as she is swept into their security and comfort.
Walo had a short snooze and awoke feeling eyes staring, at him. Yes, somewhere in these deep woods is an intruder. Over there, no, here‚then his nerves turned to stone as he looked at his pant leg. A spider, the kind Papa explained could paralyze him in a few brief seconds.
If only‚a sneeze began to build. It came as a wind tunnel and erupted out of his mouth in a tornado of wind rushing against the surprised spider and flung it into the bushes. Walo turned and ran quickly to Mama and Papa, to safety with the Family.
Tei was sure there were steps following his. He had turned off the main trail from where the Family had their dwelling, and began exploring the edge of a river. He looked for any tracks that had dared come near their encampment.
The creatures of the forest knew Mama and Papa possessed certain skills of great proportions. And they easily defended the family on previous encounters. He moved very slowly when he finally saw the curved claws of a giant Ursus, where it moved across the water in the direction of his home. Now his skin shrunk with fear and thoughts muttered.
E‚lo is short for a sibling of his age. He busied himself pushing down rotten trees. He enjoyed listening to the crash of limb against limb, and their accompanying echoes. Suddenly his whole body shook as he spotted a furry creature, larger than the last one the Family watched two moons before.
Then Tei came into view, and both images were frozen in time as the youngest of the siblings realized the danger Tei was in.
In fact there were both in danger. Suddenly Tei spotted E‚lo and with thoughts of ‚There‚s much danger here,‚ not realizing he was rushing straight towards the huge creature as it now stood its full height, blending with the bushes and preparing to attack.
High above an eagle with a full expanse of ten-foot wings moving with the wind began its descent. It swooped closely over the landscape in full flight towards its victim. E‚lo did not comprehend the danger for himself and his older sibling. An extreme moment came hurtling towards him in the shape of deadly fury.
E‚lo sent warning signals to Tei, who now noticed the bulk within the shadows of the spruce tree and halted his running while he pondered. He had seen the flying wedge of feathers heading straight for E‚lo and thought-shouted ‚Earth!‚
It was all that was needed for E‚lo to flatten himself just as drooping claws from the winged creature singed the hair on his head.
At that precise moment of flying over the fallen E‚lo, Ursus stepped into the open prepared to charge Tei and was immediately struck in the back by the eagle, its talons striking deep into flesh.
Everyone was yelling and screaming; some through fear-thoughts, other sounds quite feral. Without hesitation the younger sibling allowed Tei to half-drag and carry him back to the security of the Family. In the background, a twisting, snarling combination of fur and feathers was left to sort itself out.
‚Well done‚ were thoughts of praise evaporating fear each sibling kept, hidden knowing Mama and Papa had much worry in their hearts. ‚Well done,‚ Papa repeated, as he explained the strength and security the Family provided, since no creature of the forest would ever come to their enclave.
As evening folded each knelt side-by-side, giving thanks for another day of survival.
¬ Richard L. Provencher
Dear Readers: Richard and Esther co-authored many Kindle e-Books, available on Amazon.com. This busy activity has been very good therapy for Richard who has recovered about 90% from his 1999 brain-aneurysm stroke, Our New Web Site is: www.amazon.com/Esther-and-Richard-Provencher/e/B00O8K9UKE. PTL.
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