Chapter 9

Written by: Donna McTavish

It seemed to Jay and Sime that they had been walking in the green meadow following the silver ribbon of the river for hours. As the sun dropped in the sky and tinted the clouds a rosy pink, they crossed a narrow bridge, its stones worn and cool. They stopped and looked into the clear water  bouncing cheerily over smooth boulders and throwing up a fine spray. 


They sensed they were not alone but they saw no one. Behind, the vast green meadows rolled to the horizon but ahead the landscape was darker, dotted with clumps of tall trees that became a vast brooding forest in the distance. Sime was overcome by exhaustion and consumed by hunger. As they left the bridge, every step became an effort. He wished that he was back in the safety of the village.


His thoughts wandered to his brother and sister who would be sitting at the table with plates of the delicious stew his mother made. He recalled how he teased his sister mercilessly and kicked his brother’s shins under the table for no reason at all. He thought about his mother and father who worked from sunrise to sunset and he remembered that he never gave them any help, preferring to disappear on adventures with Jay, always dreaming up ways to make other people miserable. Weary and far from home, with the evils of the Underground Hole of the Untouchables vivid in his mind, tears of remorse welled in his eyes and he let them fall on the ground.


As he struggled to keep up with Jay, he made a bargain with Queen Kali. Let me go home he whispered and I’ll get up early to bring wood for mother…. and I won’t make my brother and sister cry ….and, and I’ll be nicer, he sobbed. Kali, hidden from their view in a small copse of trees that rustled in the warm breeze, smiled.


“They must help themselves before we can help them,” she said softly to Hest. “It seems that Sime is ready.”


Jay found the hut first. By the time Sime had caught up, he was inside and his mouth was full. On the table in the centre of the bare room was the most delicious food they had ever seen. Loaves of bread with pots of golden honey and ruby red jam and bowls of ripe peaches. They ate until their stomachs were full and only then did they begin to wonder where the food had come from.


Sime sat on the wooden floor and rested his back against the table. He let his chin drop to his chest and his eyes close. A gentle voice whispered in his ear as he slept and when he awoke some time later he knew with calm certainty what to do.


“Follow me Jay,” he said excitedly. “We’re going home! I know the way.” He looked around but Jay was gone.