As Abby walked parallel to the widening brook in the light red shadow and deep silence of her surroundings, there flickered within her the shadows of memories of vegetation other than apple trees, of creatures other than herself, of an old man, of a great loss.
But there was just this. Here. Now. Brook, stones, needles, trees, apples, brook, stones, needles, trees, apples….a step for each word…..brook, stones, needles, trees, apples….time passed….brook, stones, needles, trees….time and place vanished into silent bliss.
Abby looked. The brook had widened to a river, itself emptying into a pale green lake, at its mouth a scattering of white boulders. Upon the stone a bearded young man sat, his hair a mane vivid orange curls which seemed to have rekindled the red sky with their vivid fire.
Now she heard a thin beautiful sound and this, this she could remember: music.
“Marvelous!” she exclaimed.
He started. He stood, spinning toward her and he stood on crooked hairy legs, knees bent backwards. He uttered a sound, Ba-a-a-a and leapt, with a clatter of hooves, to the next boulder, and the next, and the next and then back into the orchard.
“You have scared him. You must get him back.”
“Look , he left something behind him. Get it.”
Abby waded into the cool lake. By the time, she had reached the boulder, the water had reached mid-thigh. She heaved herself onto the boulder and picked up the object.
It was a stick of hollowed apple wood with three holes drilled into it
“Blow into it, Abby.”
A clear pure note arose and echoed in the lake as a luminous orange vapor emerged from the instrument and expanded into an orange mist that stretched to the banks of the lake.
“Call him back, Abby. He is the embodiment of the first of the two Wall Gifts that you will reclaim during this journey. He has much value to offer you.”
She blew a second note and suddenly saw his face emerge from the woods. He grinned. He had horns.