Random Word Story #38: Taproots In One Place

broad
sneaky
old
shocking
observe
tree
spell
{ Wicahpi is pronounced Wick-ah-pie}

Wicahpi needed to rest. She sat down harder than she’d intended on a newly toppled tree almost spilling her basket of apples. This last uphill patch to her cottage was always the toughest.
“Oh, that wouldn’t have made me happy, now.” She whispered through he teeth.
She directly addressed the apples next. “You’d make me chase you all back to the bottom. Wouldn’t you, now?”.
Her waist length gray braid swept the ground as she bent forward to steady her precious bounty. She fingered the pencil thin tip of it as her eyes followed the last section of path leading home. Once upon a time, many young men made repeated climbs up that trail to try to sweep her away from the mountain. None were successful. Wicahpi had lived alone for forty-five years and liked it.

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Her deep brown eyes had dimmed a bit, yet, she had those same fine features of the once beautiful woman who’d broken so many hearts. They’ve just been a bit harder to make out, these days, beneath a weathered ninety years of exposure to the outdoors.
Wicahpi squinted as she scanned the canopy of the hardwood forest. It was getting late. A sudden breeze rattled the dying leaves of early autumn trying to shake them loose.
Her thoughts sharply turned to the vixen she hoped to observe again at dusk. Her new friend had come out along the broad stone wall for the last three evenings. They had created an almost enchanted attachment simply through studying each other from afar.
“A little farther, now. I won’t be late, my lady. I’ve slowed a bit, now. I won’t be givin’ up yet.”
As she hoisted her basket, she suddenly became overwhelmingly thirsty. Wicahpi felt her knees buckling, and one shocking moment later, she opened her eyes finding herself lying on the ground beside the frog pond behind her comfortable lifetime home.
“How’d I get so old that I’ve lost my strength AND my mind?” she grumbled.
Wicahpi glanced toward the cottage that her father had built. There was no place on earth she felt safer. Not that she’d traveled at all but one knows when they have “taproots in one place” as her Daddy put it. Her words came out feebly, ” I…I’m fine. I’ll be fine, now.”.
She hesitantly rolled to her knees and sat on her heels. “I’m still flexible, now, aren’t I?”. Wicahpi was talking directly at her own reflection in the twilight darkness of the pond. She was accustomed to doing that. In the next moment, she watched her own eyes widen with terror as she felt a whisper on her neck. “Come, Wicahpi. I’m waiting.”
The old woman buried her face in her hands and shouted, “Oh Lord, what kind of spell has been put on me?!”
Almost paralyzed with fear, she slowly dropped her hands and turned her head at tiny increments for a glimpse of who, or what, had spoken in her ear. There, a few feet away, sat the vixen licking her paw.
“What a sneaky thing to do, now! You gave ME the start of my life!”
The vixen whispered once again. “Come, Wicahpi. We’re waiting.”
The creature then padded straight up to her and licked her on the cheek. She looked over her shoulder, just once, as she trotted away into the dark forest. Along the far side of the pond, several pairs of golden eyes blinked alive in the day’s last light. A warm breeze stirred up the leaves then all went silent.

They never found the old lady who was the last of the family who once lived there. Her disappearance would become a chilling local legend. A demolition crew was brought in from the State because local crews were too superstitious to take the job. Eight months went by before bulldozers roared flattening the abandoned cottage and widening the old path into an access road…
all the while, a gray fox, with deep brown eyes and fine features, sat silently within the tree line watching.Urocyon_cinereoargenteus_grey_fox_Aurora_zoo_image_9810

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