Hills and land are gone this frigid February morn. Lost in river haar. The sun’s a dim and distant disc, shroud in thick cloud. From her croft doorway, Eilidh shivers. It’s only four strides away, but there’s no trace of the protective dry-stane dyke today. Legends say calculating kelpies lurk in the murk. With all fields covered, all sound smothered, it’s only her and them. Their whinny-whispered lies of peaceful forever-sleeps circle round her head. Linger in her ears. One year widowed today, Eilidh’s not adapted to solitary life. She breaths in deep, breathes out slower. Full of lung-spike air, her shoulders lower, eyes close. She repeats this simple intake and release. Easier to go like this. Believe the wicked water spirits’ serene deceit. Her feet inch forward.
The disc climbs higher. Grows stronger. Brighter. Burns a minuscule hole in the haar that widens in slow-motion. Brings back the world. Skeleton stalks of fireweed and cow parsley are the first to emerge. Their dead bare beauty shelters crocus, snowdrops. Some have fallen. Many stand tall. Still. Reach to the sky. Robust rays warm Eilidh’s face, clear her clouded mind. Pump hope, pulse resilience to her grieving heart. Wake her from this seductive deadly trance. She stops. This isn’t what her beloved Cinead would have wanted. She tilts her head up, lifts a slender arm. Reaches towards the light that keeps rising, keeps shining. Keeps chasing the kelpies away.
Originally from Missouri, Sherry Morris writes prize-winning fiction from a farm in the Scottish Highlands where she pets cows, watches clouds and dabbles in photography. She reads for the wonderfully wacky Taco Bell Quarterly and her first published story was about her Peace Corps experience in Ukraine.
Visit www.uksherka.com for her published work.
Photo – Sherry Morris
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