The Secret of the River.

Posted: June 20, 2012 in short stories, Uncategorized, writing
Tags: , , , ,

The sun was still contemplating its rise as she felt her way down the bluff behind her home. With her kit in one hand she used the other to grab familiar trees and rocks as she lowered herself to the riverbank. The first rays of the morning lit up the river’s surface, guiding her to her special spot.

Opening her kit she set up her portable easel, stool and arranged her paints as she breathed in the landscape. Lulled by the morning sounds she watched the local wildlife hunt for food and care for their young. A Blue Heron stretched it wings as it gazed into the water for a potential breakfast. A pair of cardinals fed their anxious young in a nearby tree and she couldn’t help but smile as a momma mallard swam by with her three ducklings close behind. There was very little wind and the day promised to be a hot one, so she wanted to get as much done as she could before the heat chased her inside. Placing a canvas on the easel she let her eyes roam the environment, waiting to see what cried out for attention. Whatever spoke the loudest would be her subject of the day.

Noticing a group of frogs floating on waterlilies near the bank, she realized she had found her muse. The rising sun glistened off their backs, highlighting their spots as well as the moisture droplets clinging to the dark leaves. Squeezing paint onto the palate she picked up a brush and concentrated on the composition of the painting. Deep in thought, she didn’t notice the encroaching sound at first, but slowly the sound of breaking twigs got her attention. Peering over her shoulder she looked for animals or humans but returned to the painting when she found that she was alone.

She was working on the leaves when the smell reached her nose. At first she thought it smelled like a wet dog, but quickly wrinkled her nose as the scent doubled. Looking over her shoulder she screwed up her face, hoping that whatever it was would quickly move on. Focusing on the canvas she decided to add a flower for color. Things were going well, the water looked great, the frogs glistened in the light and the morning dew reflected the sunrise, all she needed to do was add the flower.

When the scent got stronger she decided to head for home and paint a flower from memory. It wasn’t a smell like death, but it was unpleasant and it was ruining her creativity. Picking up her paint tubes she started to stow her gear, freezing in terror when she heard footsteps behind her. She gripped the large tube of titanium white so hard she feared it would pop as she slowly swiveled her head, falling from her stool with a scream.

As a shadow fell over her face she looked up, gazing into the biggest pair of brown eyes she had ever seen. The eyes seemed truly upset over her fear, they looked at her, questioning and concerned. As the creature wrinkled its brow, extending a hairy hand she realized she should be in a panic, but something in the creatures face told her she would be safe.

It walked over to her easel, feeling the edges of her canvas as it took in the image. She swore she saw a small smile overtake its hairy face.

“Ummm,” it grunted, pointing at the painting.

“You like the picture?” she squeaked.

Baring its teeth the creature uttered a deep breath.

Afraid to move she kept her soggy seat on the bank of the river as she observed her visitor. Clearly eight foot tall, or taller, it was covered from head to toe in soft, sable colored fur. It’s face, covered with the same fur, but much shorter had lips, a nose and eyes much like hers. It had extremely elongated arms and legs and huge hands, with five fingers on each. It was furry like an animal, yet it acted like it wanted to communicate with her as a human.

Finding the courage to rise to her feet she froze as the creature hissed and back away.

“It’s ok,” she crooned, “I just want to know you better. If you like that picture, let me show you some more.”

Moving slowly toward her kit the creature backed away as she pulled out more of her paintings.

“This is a painting of my dog, and this one is a baby duck in this river and this one, shows the light on all of the wildflowers lining the river,” she said softly so she didn’t spook her visitor. Laying the paintings on the ground she backed away, waiting to see what it would do.

The creature squatted on its haunches, reaching out with its massive hand to stroke the surface of the paintings. From time to time it would expel it’s breath, or release a grunt or moan. When it was done it spun to fix its eyes on her. Unsure of what to expect she shrunk into the ground.

“Are you Big Foot?” she croaked.

The creature raised up to its full height, throwing its arms into the air. Fearing the worst she pushed into the ground and closed her eyes, waiting for the end. Hearing a new sound she peeked through her hands, noticing that the creature had grabbed its waist in a hug and its head was tossed back as it released a giant belly laugh.

Realizing she was in no danger she stood up to face her visitor.

“I get it!” she shouted, “you are stuck with the name Bigfoot but you find it funny?”

The creature wiped it’s eyes and reached out a hand. Without thinking she reached out to meet it, feeling nothing but love as it grasped her fingers.

She left that day, full of wonder and awe, but she knew she couldn’t tell anyone about the creature or they would hunt it down and expose it to the world. From time to time she would return to paint and the creature would appear to watch her work. She figured out that the creature was a she that liked her animal paintings the most, she even gave it one of her paintings that disappeared into the forest. Once the creature brought her children and a few others to watch her work. The artist in her wanted to paint these loving, illusive creatures in their natural state, but she couldn’t do that without exposing them to the world.

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