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Children’s Stories

 

SINGING UP THE SUN: Excerpt from my Writers Digest 2016 award-winning short story

18203-wdan-awMi-la hiked the jagged mountain peaks with ease. Slid her nimble toes across the stones. Leaned over the edge. Through a parting in the clouds she glimpsed the land far below, Teacher SoLa’s words whispering in her mind: Place of chaos…  From such a distance that place looked calm. Like a blanket of green. A blanket can cover many things. Hadn’t SoLa taught her that?
A small shiver ran through her. There could be things down there she might not want to know. But that shiver held curiosity too. Twisting her long, black braid with nervous fingers, she peered through the clouds again.
I’m Mi-la, she wanted to shout to anyone who might be down there. If she could have shouted. She touched the scar that circled her throat. Backed away from the edge.
Instead, she practiced the formal blessing signs SoLa was teaching her, a language of the hands. To help mend the life-web, spread all form of blessing. Mi-la’s fumbling fingers tingled as she drew the symbols in the air. Spirals, lines, overlapping circles, intersecting squares… Oh, I drew that last part backwards. How would she ever master these complicated signs? So, she made up blessings of her own. To sky, to cloud, to stone… To blade of grass… And for chaos place below.
The cree-cree of a cliff bird soaring high above distracted her. Mi-la looked up. If I could only make a call like that…if I could fly like cree bird…  What did it see so far away?  But the bird never came close enough to share its secrets. Never followed her to the mountain garden or the lake, even when she left a trail of algae cake crumbs for it. But maybe if I–
Come… come… SoLa’s melodic Mind voice beckoned her.
One last curious glimpse below, then Mi-la turned away from the edge. Scrambling over a low ridge, she hurried down into the valley, following SoLa’s Mind-song to the Sacred Grove where her frail, aged teacher waited for her.
Algae, SoLa conveyed in Mind, Mi-la’s next task for the day.
Algae… Mi-la hid her grimace with a bow to her teacher. Then she ran—out of the grove, across the meadow, feeling the cool wind, her arms outstretched like a cliff bird, and only slowing as she neared the lake. A lake so wide, so deep, so still, it mirrored light and rippled sound. But Mi-la could make no cree like cliff bird to send the water rippling, no buzz like bee.
She pondered her reflection on the water’s surface. Traced the scar that ran across her throat.
Injury. That’s the word SoLa had used. And, Before you came here.
Came here? From where? Oh, how she had pestered SoLa for an answer. SoLa had only filled her mind with assurance that she was not to worry. For, here in mountain sanctuary, she had no need of outer voice—only to learn and listen. But that hadn’t been answer enough for Mi-la. And her hands fluttering with questions only got her teacher’s familiar reply:
Your answers will unfold to you in ways most appropriate for your understanding and learning . . .

 

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