This is the last TIWC challenge! It has been sooo fun, and a really good writing exercise, as well! And I hope to participate in another writing camp in the future!
Get comfortable… this is a long one… 🙂
Janice hung her head and dragged her feet as Rose led her in the direction of the orphanage. What were you thinking? Her thoughts taunted. Escape from the orphanage? No way.
Janice noticed the cave where the Spera lived as they passed by it. He had been so kind. She hated to leave all his plans undone. Suddenly, something in the cave opening caught her eye. What? Janice shook her head in confusion, blinking.
The Spera was standing in the cave opening.
What in the world was he doing there? He nodded towards her, a serious expression on his face. Then he shot out of the door (Janice hadn’t known how fast Speras were!) and latched abruptly onto Rose’s leg. She shrieked, letting go of Janice’s hand.
“Go!” the Spera shouted, clutching onto her leg with all his might, as she swatted and tugged angrily at him. At his word Rose turned sharply around, but the Spera wouldn’t let her budge, and Janice was making a mad dash toward the lake.
Wait! What about the Spera? I can’t leave him there! Janice thought. She whirled around.
“No,” he said, seeing her, “Run. NOW!” So she did run—all the way back to the water.
Finally Janice stumbled onto the shore. She peered out over the lake, but to her dismay, the boat was nowhere to be seen.
“No,” she breathed, straining her eyes across the water. “No, no, no, no, no.” The boat had already left. Her journey was void, and the Spera’s life, for who knows where Rose had taken him by now, was wasted. Janice felt a sudden wave of rage. All this for NOTHING!
She shouted angrily, storming around the lakeside, punching the air, and yanking out grass with all her might. Then she stopped, her fist clenched so fiercely that her fingernails pinched her palms, and her knuckles were white. Her grip loosened, and Janice collapsed onto the ground, sobs racking her body. It’s over. It’s done. All is lost.
“There, there,” said a voice. She could feel someone patting her back gently. “Why are you crying? It’s alright. It’s going to be okay.”
The voice. It was familiar. Could it be—? Janice raised her head.
“But?—But you? How?” Janice sputtered through sobs and tears of joy and relief.
He shrugged, smiling. “I’m a good runner. Oh, and Rose? She won’t be bothering you anymore. She was too shocked, and a bit frightened, by your strange, tiny friend to go looking for you again. She’s probably halfway to the orphanage by now, preparing to ask for backup.”
“But the boat—it’s gone!”
“Did you forget? I’m a Spera. I help people on their journeys. Naturally, I have a canoe in my cave.” Janice beamed at him. They would save the children from that evil orphanage after all!
. . . . .
In no time, Janice and the Spera had retrieved the boat and were rowing across the shining lake. Pine trees lined the shore in the distance, growing smaller as they moved away from them.
“Why did you come?” Janice asked, breaking the peaceful silence.
“What do you mean?”
“You said that your kind is not very strong. Will you survive out here?”
The Spera paused, his eyes staring into the distance thoughtfully. “After my family was gone, I decided that I never wanted to leave the cave again. It’s not that nature kills us, it’s just that we are more easily overpowered by other creatures, and that we respond to change and emotion differently than other creatures might. We are more prone to get sick from worry, or other challenging emotions, and sometimes we can’t recover. I don’t know how I, myself, survived the loss of my family. But I knew I never wanted to risk leaving my home again. Sometimes I would wake up and take a moment to appreciate the fact that I’m alive. But then I met you, the first traveler I’d seen in a long while, and I was moved by your determination and eagerness for your cause. I realized, then, that though I was alive, I wasn’t really living. I would rather be here, working for a good cause that I believe in, than cooped up in a cave all my days, feeling sorry for myself.” Janice nodded soberly, and they continued across the lake in silence.
Finally, a small thread was visible, laying on the lake’s horizon. Janice stood up in the boat in excitement, trying to keep her balance while looking at the precious strip of land. She beamed. Her parents were so close! The kids from the orphanage would soon be rescued! They were soon upon the shore, and Janice jumped out of the canoe when they docked, nearly capsizing the wobbly boat. Then, she remembered the Spera and helped him out, too. He knew the way to Jacksonville, so they didn’t need to find someone to ask, and the Spera could hardly get Janice to sit down and eat something before they left. It was only a short while before they made it to Jacksonville. But what they discovered there was the opposite of what they expected.
The town was in ruins. Black rubble and ash covered the ground, and remnants of the walls of buildings waved precariously in the breeze. Janice’s heart broke at the sight of her beloved home that she had so looked forward to seeing again. She swiftly weaved her way through the rubble to where she remembered her home to be, the Spera following close behind.
“Here it is,” she said, motioning toward a half-burnt house. The Spera shook his head sadly.
“I’m sorry,” he said, looking at his feet.
“Janice?” a quavering voice said from inside the crumbling walls. Janice looked up, her sad eyes wide and wondering.
“M-mama?” she whispered. The lady came running out from the house, a man running close behind her. Janice’s eyes were sparked with hope and excitement. Mama and Dad! They ran towards each other, embracing each other joyously.
“We were only here to gather anything left!” the father said through tears, as the mother nodded, biting her lip as the tears came in rivers from her hazel eyes and down her pale cheeks. After a flurry of sobs and laughs. They finally settled down enough to exchange their stories.
Janice mother spoke first, “We were so worried, Janice. You disappeared so suddenly! We searched and searched, with no luck! But then war broke out in the country, and the soldiers came, burning and stealing as they went.” She choked on her words, and her husband continued.
“Everyone was running all at once, us included. We escaped to the nearest town, where those who survived the attack are now staying. Thankfully, the townspeople are good, and have helped us immensely. It was just today that I had a day off of the job I got in town, and so we decided to come back and search through the ruins and see if any of our belongings were left. A few things survived, but,” he smiled from ear to ear, “we had no idea that we’d find you instead!”
Janice’s mother, calmed down a bit, continued, “But what about you, Janice? What happened?” she pleaded. “And…” she said, upon seeing the tiny, smiling boy standing in the background—which was a bit of a shock, “who… who is your friend here?”
“Boy, have I got a story to tell you!” Janice responded, backing up to introduce the Spera to her parents.
How do you/did you like this series? Would you like to see me continue it more?
Bye for now!