The Short Fic Weekly Challenge Thread!
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07.24.2012 , 08:40 PM |
Miriah woke, not for the first time that night. Her almost seven month’s pregnant self was having increasing difficulty getting comfortable, not to mention that her son was particularly restless at night. Hope that’s not an omen, she thought, I really don’t want Devin to be a fellow insomniac. She slid out of bed, knowing that Corso was working harder with the herds than ever, and was beyond tired when he finally came to bed. She quietly left their room, grabbed some clothes from the laundry area, and silently dressed.
Grabbing a bottle of water and some cookies she’d made yesterday, she walked outside and looked around. The moons were pretty full, and there was plenty of light. She had no idea what time it was, but she decided to walk for a little bit, thinking it might help with the restlessness. Miriah struck out toward the south pasture, since she knew there weren’t any animals there right now. As she got closer, she could hear the brook that she’d seen on the maps when they bought the place, she’d just never taken the time to walk out this way. She could see the bank now, and decided to walk along it to the lake it fed. The air felt clean, cool and refreshing, and she took several deep breaths. The baby had settled, being comforted by the motion of her walking, and she gently rubbed her expanding middle as she carefully navigated the bank. The water was crystal clear, and just lazily traveled down its path. The sound of it was soothing to her, and she felt herself relax. She crouched beside the brook, trailing her fingers in the cold water, and felt herself smile.
After she’d rested for a few minutes, enjoying a cookie, she stood and resumed her walk. She was just a few steps along when she heard it—a soft cry, questioning and alone. She stopped and looked around but didn’t see what it was at first. As she stood there she saw what appeared to be a lump of something in front of her. As she approached it, she saw that it was weakly moving and crying. It was a baby lynx, and it had been injured. It was so young that its eyes hadn’t opened yet, and it had claw marks along one side that were still bleeding. It was mewling pitifully now, in pain and scared. The mother instinct in Miriah wouldn’t let her leave it to suffer. She tore off her outer shirt and folded it, making a blanket to put the injured kit on. As soon as she touched it the kit started to purr and shiver. Wrapping the poor thing in her shirt, she lifted it to her chest and it quieted. It was so tiny it fit in one hand, and snuggled for warmth. She turned and started back the way she’d come, but she must have walked farther than she’d realized, because she got tired before she could see the house again.
Miriah decided to sit, just for a little bit, to get her bearings and check on the baby lynx. It was sleeping, she guessed, but at least it was still alive. Miriah was starting to shiver a little, since she was just in a thin tshirt now, but she knew the kit needed her other shirt more right now. She stood, and started back up the stream. Step after step, she felt herself growing weary, but she didn’t want to stop again unless she had to. As she came up over a rise, she could see her house with what looked liked every light possible on. Oh no, she thought, Corso had woken up and couldn’t find her.
She had only the pasture to get across now, but her legs were so tired. Just one foot in front of the other, she thought, I can do this. She was about halfway there when she stumbled and almost fell face first, startling the kit and waking the baby. She landed on her knees, the shock of it traveling up her legs and into her back. She sat, catching her breath and felt the kit move against her as her son moved inside her, both of them urging her to get up and move. She’d just gotten her feet under her when she heard Corso calling her.
“Over here!” she responded, and saw him break into a run in her direction. She knew she must have really frightened him. He was beside her in only a few seconds, fear evident in his eyes, and wrapped her in a hug before she could stop him.
“Thank the stars you’re alright. What are you doing out here?” He realized she was holding something, and gave her a puzzled look, “What is this?”
“I found it, all alone and crying, and I couldn’t leave it to die,” she told him. He took the wrapped bundle and put his arm around her waist, leading her back to the house. “I woke up for the tenth time and didn’t want to disturb you, so I got up and the moons were so bright I thought I’d walk outside for a bit, fresh air and all. I’m sorry I worried you.”
He stopped and kissed her, “As long as you’re okay, I’m not upset.”
They went inside and Corso put the bundle on his work table to see what was inside. He couldn’t have been more surprised to see the lynx kitten, and figured the wounds were from one of the wild kath hounds that roamed around the ranch. He put some ointment on the wounds, and found a dropper and warmed some milk, feeding the kit until it was full.
“Poor little guy, or girl, rather. She surely wouldn’t have lasted until morning, Mir. See, she’s warm and full now. You keeping her for a pet?” He looked up at her hopefully, and smiled when she nodded. She’d found and lined a basket with soft towels and Corso put the sleeping kit inside. They took the new addition to their room and placed the basket in the corner, where they could hear her purr.
Corso led her to the bed, and they wrapped themselves around each other. “Never figured you’d be bringing home stray animals, love.” He chuckled, “She’ll have to be a house pet, she’ll never survive outside.” Miriah nodded and yawned, suddenly tired.
“Sorry for all this,” she told him, and just gently squeezed her, “I know how tired you must be.”
“Don’t worry about me,” he told her. He’d never tell her how afraid he’d been when he couldn’t find her, how he’d wondered if he’d upset her and she’d just taken off. Logically, he knew better but dead tired and half asleep it had seemed plausible. He just held her close as she drifted to sleep, feeling the faint kicks of his son as he, too, seemed to settle in for a nap.
Love is the strongest magic of them all.