THE JOURNEY TO WENDY’S HOUSE BEGINS
Illustration by Carlos Uribe
THE JOURNEY TO WENDY’S HOUSE BEGINS
Abby was suddenly aware that she was wet and cold. The storm had blown off, but the cold rain had soaked her clothes. Hailstones had fallen on her neck and shoulders, and slipped down her back to melt there on her bare skin. She knew she had to get moving. Her teeth were chattering. She felt dazed.
‘But what’s my route to Wendy’s house?’ she wondered. ‘It would have saved time to hit the Half Moon River upstream, where Cedar Creek and the Half Moon can be crossed on those logs.’
But a voice quickly spoke in Abby’s mind: ‘Remember the flooding. The logs have been swept away.’
‘Of couse,’ she thought. And a chill of fear crept into her heart. Since leaving the church she’d felt as if someone, something, was inside her mind, advising and helping her.
‘Am I going crazy? What am I to make of this? Hello! Is somebody in there?’
But no reply came forth. She remained still, holding the briefcase and the mapstick, unsure which way to go. ‘Your boat,’ said the voice.
‘Of course,’ she thought. ‘I’ll cross the Half Moon in my boat, and head upstream to the stairway up the cliff. But what in God’s name is going on?’
Abby began walking at an easy pace, hugging the ridge on her right. It was a relief to have shaken off all pursuit, and to be confident of the road ahead. The branches of the tall old pine trees occasionally spread across her path, and she had to struggle to get through, even crawling a few times, holding the mapstick and pushing the briefcase ahead of her. She vividly remembered going this same way with Jeremy only three evenings before. That journey had begun as a fabulous adventure, and then… it became a disaster, part of the collapsing house of cards that had been her experience of the last three days.
Eventually the pines thinned out and the ridge met the rising ground. Abby walked up over the slope and descended to the Half Moon River. Her dinghy was where she and Phoebe had left it, hidden under the brambles. She slid it into the water, jumped in with her briefcase and the mapstick, and paddled furiously with a flat piece of wood. The current had eased up over the past two weeks. The boat hit the far side not far from its hiding place under the enormous fallen maple tree. After pulling the boat out of sight, she hiked along the bank of the river. The towering cliff grew closer and closer, leaving only a narrow rocky path for the traveller. She struggled along, tired and confused. To her relief, the voice in her mind was quiet for now.
The wind died down. Abby grew warm as her clothes slowly dried. Walking near the cliff was hard work, and the distance was about three miles. The cloudy sky was dimmer by the time she reached the stairway. She sat for a moment next to the thin oval rock that hid the entrance, dreading the climb ahead. The multiple crises of the last few days had exhausted her nerves and mental energy, and shaken her confidence.
She forced herself to think through the climb, and realized that the mapstick and the briefcase would make awkward, even dangerous baggage – awkward through the first two thirds of the climb, and dangerous near the top. How could she safely hold them when she had to go on all fours, gripping the face of the mountain?
‘Remember the piece of twine,’ said the voice in her mind.
‘The piece of twine? What piece of twine?’
She recalled the twine she had used to tie the mapstick across her back as she rode the bike, but had no memory what she had done with it. But there, wrapped around the mapstick several times, was the piece of twine. The mapstick and briefcase would still be hazards near the top of the cliff, but now the climb was at least possible.