This is the second installment of The Spring and the River series. I hope you enjoy it!
Lucy was sitting in the center of the village weaving baskets with the other young women when the news came. Her father’s brother had been found drowned in the River very far Downstream. Rumors that he had been fraternizing with the River and its victims had been circulating for that last few months, but Lucy had always dismissed them. Never once had he even passed within a few yards of the River. Of course her uncle would never jump much less fall into the River!
But the River did not drown fresh victims. The River started drowning people only after they had swum and drunk of its waters for some time. After a while, the River started pulling people farther Downstream. And Downstream was even more dangerous than the rest of the River.
So, when the news came that he had drowned in Wrong, Lucy’s world shifted. She knew both of her parents had once struggled against the beguiling call of the River, but that had been many years ago. Never before had a death in the River struck so close to home. And now she was more frightened for those caught in the River then she had ever been before.
She dropped her almost finished basket and ran straight to the Spring. Hands trembling, she took a sip and then washed her face. The cold, fresh water calmed her and the holy whispering of the Spring told her not to be afraid and to be strong. She sat in its flow for a few minutes, letting the water drench her dress. Delicious peace washed over her, and she slowly stood. For a moment she just watched the Spring. The pure water broke over the white stones and shined in the afternoon sun.
There was still hope for those who had been seduced by the River. She ran straight towards the River. Feeling strong with the water of the Spring coursing through her body and clinging to her skin, she knew that she need not fear the River today. Keeping a good several yards of solid earth between her and the Wrong, Lucy searched for Marianne. Maybe if she warned Marianne of the very real dangers of the River, she could restore Marianne to the Spring. Her heart was pounding as she briskly walked Downstream. Surely Marianne had not drifted this far Downstream so soon!
“Marianne!” she called. “Marianne!” she called again, searching the faces in the River that turned to look at her. “Have any of you seen Marianne?” she called to them. They looked confused.
“What are you saying?” they yelled. “We cannot hear you!” Then they simply shrugged and went back to their games. Lucy felt her stomach turn. The River was drowning out her voice.
She walked a little farther Downstream. “Marianne!” she cried, desperate. Finally, Marianne’s face was one of the ones that turned towards her. “Marianne,” Lucy sighed in relief. “You need to get out now. My uncle was just drowned by-” But Marianne cut her off.
“Get out?” she asked incredulously as she swam a little closer to shore. “No, I’ll get out in a little while. I never knew that going farther Downstream could be so exciting.”
“I’m sure that it’s probably very exciting, even up to the moment that the River consumes you!”
“If you aren’t here to join us, Lucy, just go away,” Marianne said, diving back underneath the water of the River. It didn’t sound at all inviting today. It sounded menacing as it laughed at Lucy.
Turning away from the River, Lucy slowly walked back to the village. After the initial uproar at the news of a death, the entire village had gone to the Spring. When she found them, her parents were kneeling together in the middle of the Spring and the rest of the village was gathered around them. One of Lucy’s older brothers, Lucien, broke away from the group and came towards her. “Are you alright, Lucy?” he asked.
“I’m just very sad. Do you know how to restore someone from the River to the Spring?” she asked.