Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Prompt: Meeting Your Reflection

I'm sorry I cannot attribute this haunting photo!

Anna pulled her horse to a stop at the edge of the silvery water. “Whoa, girl. Careful now. We don’t want to meet our reflection out here!” Peering through the fog, she could see the ghosts of trees and glints reflecting on water as far as she could see in the dim light of the Mirror Marsh. The villagers said that when the fog met the water, your reflection could escape and leave you trapped in the marsh forever.

She climbed down and fished in her pocket for a few remaining oats. Holding them while her tired, old horse nuzzled against her palm, she debated skirting the marsh. But she would have to camp overnight, and her Mama couldn’t wait for the witch’s healing herbs. She wrapped her hand around the pouch tucked deep in her cloak and took a deep breath.

“Okay, Ninna, I’ll lead you. We can’t go near the water, so don’t pull me, even if you get thirsty!”

Ninna nickered and plodded complacently behind Anna’s slight form. There was no trail through the marsh, lending to the challenge of safe passage. Anna’s father had taught her to look toward the tree tops to avoid seeing the reflections in the silvery pools that covered the landscape. He made his way through the marsh to provide meager fare for their family, despite the dangers. Until the day he didn’t come home. Anna took on the role of provider after that. She avoided the marsh, not because she was afraid, she told herself sternly, but because there was little enough to find there to feed, much less support, their family.

But when she returned home one evening to find her mother lying asleep on the cabin floor and the baby crying in its crib, she knew she needed the witch’s help. Noone recovered from the sleeping sickness on their own. If Anna had any hope of saving her mother, she had to get those herbs home soon.

She stumbled over a root and grabbed onto a sapling, barely keeping herself upright. Her boots were covered in mud, and it leaked over the tops and pooled under her feet, squelching with every step. Ninna still plodded step by step behind her, eyes half-closed. She was an old mare, too weak to pull the cart any longer, and Anna dreaded the day Ninna could no longer support her to ride out in search of food.

Suddenly, another root caught her toe, and she fell headlong onto the muddy ground. As she lifted herself on her elbows, she looked right down into a mirrored pool. Her reflection looked as surprised as she did. Then it smiled.
Dogs in house:

Time writing:
~30 minutes

April word count:


  1. Prompt: Meeting Your Reflection

    I saw them coming around the far side of the pond. Two figures emerged from the fog: a man, followed by a horse. He looked older than our usual fare. Normally it was youngsters that came to look into the spring, wishing for a view of their future wife, husband, riches, or what have you.

    Few saw what they desired, and even fewer understood what they saw. I straightened from where I leaned against my tree and brushed the twigs straight in my hair. As the man rounded the corner of the pond, I realised he was even older than his easy stride had suggested. White hair sprung out from the edges of his cap, and his smiling face was deeply creased.

    "Good day, lady dryad," he said.

    I nodded and gestured down the path toward the spring. "Your reflection awaits."

    The old man patted the horse's nose. "Wait here, old boy."

    He strode along the path. I followed, politely quiet. Unlike other guardians, I did not find it my place to lecture the supplicants. They would see what they saw, whether my words warned them or not.

    "I've been here before," he said, conversationally.

    "Oh?" I asked. "What did you see?"

    He laughed. "Myself, coming again today."

    1. Oh, very nice! Good character sketches and a little world building. Why did he come back? What happens next? :)

  2. Oo, creepy! I can't decide if I think it's a friendly smile or a fiendish smile, and I suspect whatever comes next would answer that...