by Ellese Elliott
Once upon a time, there was a little girl with a pure heart called Sophie. Every morning, Sophie would head down to the river, to frolic and play and laugh all day.
Splashing or paddling, rowing or skating, Sophie never tired to be with the river and the river never tired of Sophie.
Sometimes the river was warm and sparkling; so sparkling, Sophie swore that’s where the stars took their bath. And at other times the river was hard and freezing; so freezing, she turned blue and started wheezing. However, nothing would stop Sophie from heading down to the river, to frolic and play and laugh all day. But one day when Sophie played in the river, all went dark, the air fell silent and then the river ran wild. A giant wall of water rolled toward Sophie, the thunder shook the land and the lightening ruptured the skies. Crack!!!!!!
The giant wall of water swept Sophie into the air, crack and then dragged her under.
She struggled against this beast, spluttering and fighting. Sophie screamed ‘Arrrrggghhhhh!’, as she was thrown out of the water and into a shadowy cave. So surprised, so scared and so hurt, Sophie stayed in the cave and her pure heart turned dark.
The cave was hard, wet and dingy. But unlike the erratic river that was so kind, but then so awful the cave was steady and predictable. It was safe.
The seasons slowly passed, autumn, winter, spring and then summer. But the cave had no seasons, only emptiness. Sophie forgot that every day she used to go down to the river, to frolic and play and laugh all day, as she too became empty.
But then, a beam of light entered into Sophie’s line of sight and something entered the cave.
“‘Allo’, what’s your name?” It was a boy! His appearance was scruffy. He had dirt on his face and clothes, and he was smiling from ear to ear. An astonished Sophie knew not what to say. “What you doin in ‘ere?” said the boy. Sophie wanted to speak, but again nothing came out.
Becoming disheartened, the boy turned and headed back from where he came. Suddenly, Sophie said in a panic,
“where are you going?” in a scared little voice.
“Well, to go down to the river, to frolic and play of course!” said the boy.
Standing in the beam of light the boy shone. “But what … what if you get hurt and the river runs wild?” Sophie begged from the dark corner of the cave. However, the boy replied, “Well that’s better than staying in some dingy old cave.”
And with that thought – Sophie followed the boy into the light and out of the darkness.
Image by Rob Wills, adapted from his original The Brine Paddler’s Strife which came out of a surreal conversation about things that ryhme with The Time Traveller’s Wife.