The Daughter of Disappearing Creek
People talked about her. When she went into town–which wasn’t often–they stared at her, too. She knew what they were thinking, and they weren’t wrong. No. Far from it. The rumors, the whispers, even the hushed warnings… they were all true.
The gossips never said anything she wouldn’t have said, herself, if anybody’d bothered asking. She didn’t need their approval or their company, and whatever anyone said, she didn’t need their permission to be on the mountain.
It was her mountain.
It would always be her mountain.
She’d dance naked on it, if she felt like it.
The sky and the squirrels didn’t care, and no one else climbed the mountain, except to spy on her. Might as well give them a story. Lord knew they’d tell one, anyway.
And that was how she kept her secret safe.
She was insane because they believed she was insane.
She was a witch because they believed she was.
Damn fool boys couldn’t tell the difference, anyhow.
She followed the path as far as it went, until it disappeared into rock and brambles. After that, she made her own way, pushing the branches to the side as she went, with her wide-brimmed hat to block out the withering sun, and the drying wind to blot out the whispers.
The last of a no-account family. The stubborn one. The one who knew everyone wanted her to move away, and the one who didn’t do it.
In Disappearing Creek, people had been talking about her family for longer than she could remember. Longer than she’d been alive. Children of God, the preacher called them, when they were growing up. Or Children of Disappearing Creek, in his brimstone moods. No doubt, whatsoever, that some of the fine gentlemen of Disappearing Creek had a little to do with that great big brood of bastards. Seventeen children, all by disappearing fathers. Kept afloat by illegal trap lines, and charity, and moonshine stills. Drugs, she’d heard. Marijuana and sometimes, meth.
Yes. All of it was true.
She chuckled to think what passed for secrets in a one-stoplight town.
Perhaps, if she was ever given the chance, she’d tell them more. She’d tell them how, one by one, her siblings fled to the city… to the factories… to greener farms. To any place at all, that wasn’t Disappearing Creek. To any place far enough away that people hadn’t even heard of Disappearing Creek. She’d tell them how her mother ran off, too. How she never came back, and how they all figured she was dead.
Better, that way. Better than scratching out a chicken living in a town named for hardship and drought.
Disappearing. Every damn summer. Just when the crops needed it most.
If they asked, she’d tell them everything they wanted to know. Poverty. Prostitution. Drugs. She would tell them that.
But she wouldn’t tell them her secret.
They wouldn’t believe her, anyway.
Sixteen brothers and sisters out in the world.
And then, there was her.
She’d never known her father’s name, but over time, she’d figured out what he was.
Pretty obvious, after a while.
Not the mayor, or the banker, or the chief of police.
She wondered how they missed it, but all that matters was, they did.
She laughed. Crazy old woman. Ah, if only they knew. And what would become of them, if she ever left?
She stripped off her clothes on the way back to her cabin, and walked the last hundred yards or so with the dying grass crunching under her bare feet. She could see the village from the edge of the cliff. If anybody ever bothered to look up, they could probably see her, too. She curled her toes around the edge. They didn’t see. They wouldn’t see. They were too closed minded to look.
And even if they did look, they’d figure out a way not to see.
Her arms. Her back. Her wings.
How could anyone miss a twenty foot wingspan, and a hawk-black eye? How was it even possible they didn’t know?
She stretched her wings to their full, glorious width, and thunder cracked through the bone-dry air like an empty promise.
She laughed. Disappearing Creek might have been their village, but it was her rain.
There was still a little mud at the bottom of the creek. Not much, but some.
She folded her wings, and then stretched them out, again. She could feel the wind blow through her feathers, and all around her, the thunder roared. She could see people in the village coming out of their shops and houses. They looked up at the clouds, and held their hands out to catch the first drops.
She turned around, and walked back to the cabin.
She laughed. She laughed, and she laughed, but she did not fly.
I hope you enjoyed the story. Please visit some of the other authors in the StoryTime Blog Hop for more short, speculative fiction stories.
Shores of Lamentation, by Melanie Drake
Syrojax Lends a Claw by Nic Steven
Culture Sharing by Angela Wooldridge
Sisters by Barbara Lund
Rogue Ring by Katharina Gerlach
Grim Failures by Bill Bush
Secrets by Gina Fabio
The Daughter of Disappearing Creek by Karen Lynn
Mugging Morpheus by Vanessa Wells
The Gynnos Seeker Project by Juneta Key
A Little Off the Top by Tyler Vawter