Friday, April 5, 2013

Prompt: The spirit within me honors the spirit within you

Thanks to “Elemental Jess” for sharing this beautiful prompt!

Jessie was fourteen months the first time her parents took her to the zoo. She still had that jerky, just-learned walk and a tendency to sit down suddenly. But not for long. She didn’t want to ride in the stroller when she could move under her own power. It took a lot longer to go from one exhibit to the next that way, but she loved every minute of it, and her parents loved watching her see all the animals in real life and not just on TV for the first time.

They watched baby baboons tumble and lemurs sitting in a row in the sunshine. They bought a little cup of nectar to feed the butterflies, and when they dipped Jessie’s fingers in, she held out her hand and let three butterflies land on it. Then she tried to kiss them and they fluttered away. The elephants were getting a shower, and Jessie laughed to see them spout the water out of their noses and over their backs.

She rode on the carousel zebra, with her Daddy holding her on the saddle and Mommy taking pictures and waving when they rode around. She wanted to go again, but they said, “Next time, honey. Let’s go see the lions and tigers.”

The Big Cat House had just finished their feeding time, which Daddy had wanted to see, but Mommy gently suggested might be a little scary for little girls. Most everyone had wandered away, talking about how the lion charged the handler at the feeding tube and roared in anger when the handler stepped safely away. The lion had gone outside to sleep in the sun.

Jessie climbed out of the stroller again when they came into the big building. She ran from window to window, leaning against the glass to look for animals. Mommy pointed two windows down, where a tiger was pacing back and forth. Jessie ran to it and leaned with both hands on the window to watch.

The tiger chuffed as it walked toward her. They could hear it through the glass, a deep grunting sound. It came right up to Jessie and leaned its face down to hers. Mommy and Daddy watched carefully, ready to swoop her up if she were scared. She laughed. “Kitty!”

The tiger leaned down on its forepaws, then lay straight in front of Jessie. It bowed its head and put an enormous paw against the glass, covering Jessie’s hand. She stroked the glass and kissed it. “Kitty!” she cried again.

Mommy thought the tiger wanted Jessie for a snack, and she picked up Jessie to walk away. The tiger lay its chin on its paws and whined. Mommy turned around and stared. Jessie reached for it. It lay still and looked up at her with unblinking golden eyes. Mommy shook her head and leaned down to let Jessie stand on her own again.

Jessie ran a couple of steps and reached out her hands, smacking them on the glass with an echo. She pressed her face against the glass again. “Kitty!” she whispered.

The tiger pressed its nose against the glass and once more lifted its paw to cover Jessie’s hand.

Mommy said, “Jessie, do you remember what we do at the end of our yoga classes?”

Jessie stood and put her hands together. She bowed to the tiger. “Namaste, Kitty. Namaste.”

Dogs in house:

Time writing:
25 minutes

April word count:


  1. Prompt: The spirit within me honors the spirit within you

    Alia felt she had walked long enough into the forest. She put the child down. The mother stopped behind her, wringing her hands. Alia could tell the woman wanted to speak, to ask how it was going, but she would not. The mother was overwhelmed with the importance of this first-year rite, and would want to leave the forest spirits to themselves.

    Alia closed her eyes and spread her arms, sensing the life force in front of her, small and young, and the one behind, similar but older. She extended her senses, noting the forest trees, a sheen of life on their surfaces and across the ground, and bright sparks of animals and insects. She intoned words whose meaning was lost in their rote familiarity.

    Her arms grew heavy. If nothing came, Alia would nudge something small -- a butterfly, a mouse -- to dash up to the child and away. She did this for at least half the children, justifying it to herself that when the spirits did come of their own accord, they were always just as small and usually very confused as well. A spirit would not respond to her nudge if it was not receptive; probably she was only speeding up what would otherwise happen.

    A stick had worked its way into her shoe, and now poked the side of her foot. Perhaps she could nudge something already, just a general call...

    She added some power to her sense, in preparation for shaping it. Then something strong and bright cut across the forest. Alia's eye's opened involuntarily; where had that come from?

    A tiger emerged from a bush not ten paces from them, walked up to the baby and lay down. It lifted a paw, and the child touched it. Then tiger and baby turned their faces to Alia. _I_know_what_you_were_planning_, their eyes seemed to say.

    1. *nodding* I like it! Nice quick sketch of a culture and setting, some magic. I liked the mundane note of the stick poking her foot. And the surprise (!) of the tiger. Especially liked the communion between the child and tiger to Alia. What happens next?!