Baby Bean is Growing

 BabyFruit Ticker

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


(I'm trying out the name Naida for my fire and water / Romeo Juliet story for the water character. The name means "water nymph.")

Naida paused and looked down. Far below her, on the forest floor, a figure lay prone in the soft fern bed. His hair was wild and bright as sunlight, and his clothes were strange, made of some pale material the color of clouds. Fascinated, Naida headed for the nearest tree trunk and down towards the ground.

As a rule, her people rarely visited the forest floor. To them, it was a place of death, a portal to the afterlife, and the realm of the dead. Naida herself had been down to the earth only once with her brother when their mother had died. She had not liked it. The trees towering above her had made her feel claustrophobic, and so little light filtered down to the earth level that the plants there were strange and alien to her. She had felt pity for the men whose job it was to dig her mother's grave, for she knew they visited the earth almost every day.

The tree she was in did not have a public access way to reach the earth, and she was forced to make her way down by dropping herself from limb to limb, and then climbing down the knots of the trunk. Her leather tunic scraped the bark as she shimmied down the last few inches, and her feet touched the spongy soft layer of earth beneath the ferns.

Looking around her for the first time, she realized she had lost her bearings. Having back-tracked to the nearest trunk, she was now unsure of where she had seen the strange figure. A voice in her mind told her to climb right back up to the canopy and be on her way, but another voice, a stronger voice, urged her to go on.

Timidly, she stepped away from the trunk in the direction she guessed the figure lay. In the late afternoon, the forest at this level was quite dark, and she felt somewhat afraid. She had occasionally seen strange animals that lived on the earth roaming the forest below her, and she did not know if any were dangerous.

Before long she felt very lost. From this vantage, all the trees looked the same, and she could see none of the familiar landmarks by which she navigated far above. She had almost convinced herself to give up the search, when she saw him.

His body had been partially obscured by the tall patch of ferns in which he lay. She rushed towards him and knelt down by his side. From above, she had assumed he was one of her own people, but at this small distance, it was plain he was not. His clothes were foreign to her, his skin dark brown and weathered, and his fiery hair like none she had ever seen. Gently she prodded his shoulder, hoping to wake him. He groaned softly and shifted, but did not open his eyes. As he moved, she gasped. His side closest to her was a mass of blood pouring from a ragged, ugly wound.

"Hello?" she said, shaking him again. "Wake up. Can you hear me?" He groaned again, and his eyelids fluttered open. Naida gasped.

His irises were a dark, deep red like a setting sun, but the rest of his eyes were completely black.

"You," she whispered, recognizing him instantly as the man from her dreams. How could she not have seen it before? The hair, the face, the high cheek bones and strong chin. She had seen that face more times than she could count in her mind, in her dreams. She felt she knew this man as well as she knew herself.

And he was lying on the earth, bleeding, maybe dying.

His eyes stared up at her, blinking rapidly, not really seeing her, then they fluttered closed again.

"Don't move!" she cried. "Stay here! I'll go for help." She leaped up and began to run, but she had already begun to wonder who would help her. Her brother would be suspicious. He would want to put the stranger in a prison as likely as a hospital. Others might react the same way. Only she was familiar with him, knew him, and she could hardly communicated that in a way they would understand. Desperately, she stopped and stared around her.

Not far away was another trunk, its mighty roots spreading out in all directions. She rushed towards it. Between two of the largest roots was a space that had collected a mat of leaves and branches across the narrow space at its top. The result was a small space, wide enough for two people to sit, and deep enough for one person to lie that was dry and sheltered.

Naida sprinted back to the man, her heart racing. She took a deep breath to steady herself and held her hands out above his body. For a moment, nothing happened. She frowned and squinted, increasing her effort, and his body shuddered slightly and began to rise. It floated to no more than a few inches above the earth, but it was enough.

Slowly, carefully, she moved across the forest floor, his body parting the ferns like green water, as she took him to safety and shelter.

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