“A-ha!” Swooping a gloved hand into the undergrowth Rafie pulled up a glorius specimen of a Hedgehog mushroom. She admired her treasure for a moment before placing the fungus gently into her basket.
Sunlight streamed through the canopy warming the air, making the afternoon pleasant. Rafie had already filled the small wicker basket, but, enjoying the atmosphere, she carried on around the narrow forest path. Birds chirrped from all around, insects buzzed, her boots crunched fallen twigs. The path snaked around trees, patches of wildflowers released their intoxicating scent into the air. A sleepy peace washed over Rafie.
Some time later Rafie reached the oldest tree in the forest, as large around as her own cottage and taller by many times. Squirrels darted up the tree at her approach, flowers and plants quivered as unseen creatures escaped to their hiding places. Five strides took her right up to the trunk, its deep brown bark was almost smooth, many branches stuck out far above her head, full of deep red leaves. She placed her basket by her feet, after straightening and removing a glove she rubbed her hand over the trunk, a common ritual, bringing comfort to both woman and tree.
For over twenty years Rafie had lived on the edge of the forest, drawn to the area by this tree. Her sensitivity and openess led to a quick friendship and over the years they had become family.
“Do you need anything today, Lady Time?” Rafie closed her eyes, slowed her breathing and listened.
Above Rafie’s head leaves rustled, a branch creaked and something fell with a thud behind the tree trunk into the soft ground.
Slowly Rafie opened her eyes, adjusting back to the light, removed her hand and moved to investigate. Raking her eyes over the ground she searched for the fallen object.
It took only one pass to spot the item, a yellow egg the size of her head. It shone amongst the dark undergrowth. Carefully, Rafie scooped up the egg, it was heavy, cold on her ungloved hand. It was slippery so she cradled it in the crook of her left arm and went back to talk to Lady Time.
“Do you want me to take this somewhere? Look after it?”
Leaves rustled but only those which faced the way back to her cottage.
“Home?” A question, but not really, she could feel the answer, she was to take the egg to her house and wait.
A gust of wind rushed away down the path swaying all the trees.
“I’ll do my best.”
Egg and basket in hand Rafie made her way home, the air cooling.
When Rafie emerged from the forest evening was turning to night, dark blue sky smeared with the reddish pink of the setting sun. Her cottage glimmered in the waning light, smooth white stone topped with dark brown thatch. Her garden expanded around her house, bordered by a low stone wall. Behind her dwelling sprawled a wildflower meadow and far on the horizon a village visible only as a silhouette against the sky.
With her hands full Rafie backed into her door and leaned an elbow down on the handle, the door swung open.
Despite there being no light and the counters being completely covered with plants, bottles, clay sculptures and scraps of cloth, Rafie unerringly placed the egg gingerly on top of a pile of fabric. Turning her back on the egg for the moment she walked over to the wide fireplace, placed the basket of mushrooms next to the pile of logs and set to building a fire.
The fire and candlelight filled the one room cottage with a flickering glow, light bounced off pots and pans, illuminating herbs handing from thick black beams in the ceiling. Dusting off her hands Rafie stood, a great huff of air escaped her as she gazed at the mysterious egg.
“What are you?” She walked around a chair and leaned on the table where the egg now sat.
Rafie wondered whether the egg might want warmth. She picked up the yellow egg, cloth bedding and all, transfered it to the rug in front of the hearth.
Rafie eased herself into a plush armchair, kicked off her boots and pondered the new addition to her home. How long would it be until it revealed itself? She gazed until her eyelids and head grew heavy, still in her walking clothes. In the chair in front of the fire Rafie nodded off, and the egg began to shake.
To Be Continued…
This story is set in a world of my own devising, one in which I plan to set many stories. This particular story was only meant to be a short practise piece, however, as I began writing I realised I wanted to expand it a little. So here we end and next Saturday I will post the next (last?) part. Follow along and see where this takes us!