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Inspiration Monday strikes again. Couldn’t fit a steampunk story around the prompts this week, but a change is as good as a rest.

I’ve used the prompt, “Remember what your mother told you“. As a child I thought she was just moaning, it’s not until I got older that I realised the wisdom in her words. Here is my offering:

* * *

Don’t talk with your mouth full, don’t run indoors, don’t play in the gravel pit, don’t go down the lane, don’t … well, don’t do anything it seemed.

There is only so much a child can remember, or be bothered to take notice of. Well, me and Jimmy were off for a dip in the river. We didn’t care what mum said, it was the summer holidays, we’d waited for this for weeks. The sun shone.

We crossed the main road and headed down the lane. The gravel pit was locked, the men and their trucks were away at the weekend, but we knew where there was a hole in the fence. We were soon scrabbling up the heaps of different grades, taking flying leaps from the top, rolling and rolling until we reached the bottom.

The rusty conveyors loomed against the sky, the ladders and walkways tempted us; we gave in easily and climbed the creaking structures. We explored, clambered in, over, under, and eventually got back to ground level. Time was getting on, we headed out the back of the workings, to the sedimentation pools where the water that washed the gravel dropped its gooey content that solidified in the summer sun. But only the surface was hard, below was a blancmange of sand,  mud and water. The only way across was to keep moving, not to hesitate, or you would sink. We didn’t know it was only two feet deep, so the fear of death spurred us on, our boots skimmed the crusty surface, desperate to reach safety on the far side.

Back in the lane, and we headed on to the river.

As we crossed the fallow field towards the shallows on the bend, the sky darkened and the summer breeze took on a chill. We were ten, we didn’t notice.

We didn’t notice the rain drops; large summer rain falling straight down. We didn’t notice swirling whirlpools. We didn’t notice the dark shape shifting below the surface. We dropped all but our underpants on the shore and ran into the cold water. We waded in until we were in waist deep. Then we noticed. The dark, eel-like shape swam between us. We’d heard tales, but we hadn’t believed. The huge head just broke the surface, its black leather skin shone and we could see its red eyes.

As it circled the second time the water boiled and frothed, Jimmy screamed. But only for a moment, for the water flowed smooth again, leaving just a trail of red, leading away to the deeps on the far side.

I remembered, then, what mother told me.

* * *

(c) 2012, K Patrick Moody

Inspired by a prompt on Inspiration Monday, August 6, 2012

 

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