4. The Path Before Us

The path before me is uncertain and treacherous. I’m full of a combination of excitement, fear and anxiety. I’ve placed my fate in the hands of the Universe and lately my life has taken a different direction than I ever expected.  I reach into my satchel and feel the crystal that shows me different surroundings behind me when I look, I feel the magic book with the beautiful dragon embossed on the cover with all the spells written within. Do I dare even try to begin to learn these spells?  I’m an ordinary woman, I’m not special, I’m not magical. But it is intriguing nonetheless.

20160808_193628Suddenly across my path a dog confronts me, he has one blue eye and one brown eye. He grins at me with a silly grin, his tongue hanging out to one side.  He looks like a clown.  He runs up to me and greets me by jumping up and placing his front paws on my legs and barking loudly.  I laugh, he’s a funny dog. I wonder where he comes from. There’s no one else around and no villages or towns close by, we are alone. Alone here in the forest, just him and me. The shade of the trees is welcome on this path, it is turning out to be a hot, summer morning and it’s going to be a long journey.   I look down this path and see that it seems there is no end.  I begin and this silly dog follows, I name him Oberon. With him at my side, I am not so alone.

 

 

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3. Discovery

The morning comes none too soon, the cave floor is hard and damp. My body and head ached from lack of sleep.  Even though I had tried to rest, the threat of the return of the dragon had occupied my mind all night long.  As the dawn slowly lit up the interior of my temporary haven, I notice the drawings on the cave wall, it looks like a map.  I can see the cave where I am now and the familiar shape of the river and the waterfall.  I also notice there are 5 stars drawn on the cave wall map and one located right where I am, the cave.  What did this mean?  The light from the morning was getting stronger and now I can clearly see.  I look around, there is nothing else drawn on the wall of the cave, I look on the ground and suddenly spy something.  There at the back of the cave covered in dust is a book!  Picking up the old leather bound book and wiping off the dust, I see that the cover is embossed with a picture of a flying dragon and the title reads: “Magickal Spells and Transformations”.

I pick up the book and study the cover, the dragon is beautiful and even though I had been chased last night by a dragon, the one on the cover of this book is amazing and entrancing. This dragon had been lovingly carved into the leather, each detail was evident, every scale visible, the long curving tail wrapped around the title and its strong wings were widespread.  It is a magnificent creature to behold.  I carefully open the ancient book.  Each page is handwritten with beautiful drawings of plants and animals.  The author of this magic book was very talented. Pressed between some of the pages, I find leaves and flowers of some of the plants mentioned in the book.  In the margins are notes that the author had evidently written to themselves to remember certain things or things not to do during the incantations.  As I scan through the book, I noticed that there are stars drawn on certain pages in the same handwriting as on the cave wall.  On the very last page of the book, I find the now familiar map.

2. The Chase

Looking over my shoulder as I run, I see a glimpse of the yellow eyes, the flash of a sharp fang, and feel the heat of the dragon’s breath getting closer and closer. “What did I do? Why is she chasing me?” I run faster and faster, finally, I find a narrow opening in the rocks and dart between them to find myself safely hidden in a small cave. My heart beats so hard; I know the dragon can hear me, but no, the large female dragon doesn’t realize that her prey has once more eluded her and passes the cave searching for the intruder into her domain. I sigh, my knees are weak with fear, my body trembles, I can barely stand as I slowly slide down the cool wall of the cave and down to the musty cave floor. I close my eyes; I wonder how long I should remain hidden. Should I wait only a little while longer? I listen closely and hears rustling in the forest.  Maybe it would be wiser to just stay put and wait until morning.  In the light of day, I can better see where dangers lie, figure out where I am and maybe, just maybe discover what made the dragon so angry.

In the air a crimson dragon circles above searching, her strong wings carry her on the currents. It’s a moonless night, the air is crisp and clear. Where did that woman go? The forest was too dense and the night was too dark.

1. Reflections

As I sit here on this rocky outcropping next to the waterfall, I feel the refreshing mist of the spray on my skin and the shade of the trees cools the air around me. Suddenly I hear a cry above, a shadow silhouettes the sun. I look up but it’s not the feathery wing of a bird, but a much larger wingspan, a leathery wing with sharp dangerous looking talons at each end. A serpentine tail flows like a kite behind the dragon that doesn’t see me yet.

Quickly I duck behind the boulder at the edge of the stream. I wait for the dragon to glide silently into the horizon of the setting sun.

Suddenly a glimmer appears in the quietly trickling stream. The sun has hit the water at just the right angle and it sparkles in my eyes. Catching my attention to the reflection in the water, I noticed there is something lying on the bottom of the river bed.

Checking to see if the dragon has decided to return and feeling safe that it has not, I wade into the stream. It’s not deep, only to my calves, but it’s icy cold and swiftly running. Carefully getting my footing I wade to the middle of the stream, there lodged between the bases of two boulders in the river bed I find the object of my search, the object reflecting the sunlight. It is difficult to grasp, its slick and slips through my fingers as they begin to freeze in the cold water. I need to get out of this stream soon. I’m so cold!

Finally, I feel it begin to give way, and I pull it from the water, its round but thin, shiny and about 3 inches in diameter. It looks a little like a mirror, but not exactly. It’s got clear blue tinges of color. It seems to be made of some sort of crystal. But, when I look at it I can see my reflection, I see myself and the sky above. Is there a shadow over me? I turn around quickly, but there is nothing there. Maybe it’s my imagination.

It begins to get late, I’m cold and wet. I have to find shelter. I need to make camp somewhere safe and out of sight from the dragon. I want to study this disk more closely. This disk, this strange object gives me tingles, every time I look at it I seem to see myself a little differently each time. Every time I look into the disk I see more than I expected, the landscape changes behind me as well. What’s going on?

Photo: Lair of the Bear Park, Gunnison, Colorado. Photography by Candace Stauber, 2015

Political Commentary, Short Stories, & Poetry