Come in, come in, the river mist will be gone soon enough, but here you’ll find some tales, some warmth so make yourself comfortable. There’s tea in the pot, or perchance, you brought some wee dram of your own.
Please sit by the window, you’ll have the best view, and easy hearing. Ignore the cats, no matter what they say, and don’t open the window for the tapping crows.
I’ll be working at the table in the corner, if you have any need, or she knocks upon the door. And until you stop by again, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.
Until your next visit, until the next photograph, the next 12-line story, good fortune and safe wanderings.
“Don’t stray far Runa, and stay on this side of the pond.”
That’s what her mother had said every morning for the past nine days, as if there was any place to stray towards, thought Runa, or any way across the great pond as it’s sheer coating of ice glistened in the sun.
Most days Runa walked the shore path, going a little further each day, daring herself, going beyond the curve in the shore where she could no longer see the rambling house, before turning back home, often retracing her own footprints on the frost covered ground.
There wasn’t much between the path and the water, mostly rocks big enough for climbing, sitting, even sleeping upon in warmer weather, listening as the water softly pushed up against rocks and overhanging tree roots.
Now the water itself was frigid, clear and unrevealing, hiding her secrets well.
All Runa ever saw on her walks were large gray granite rocks, moody water and secretive trees, and none of those things interested her at all.
Runa missed her friends, missed the constant noise and frenzy of the city, the smallness of their apartment with its fifth floor view towards other high buildings, shop signs and the occasional tree top, missed their apartment overflowing with books and objects collected from flea markets and day trips.
Here, in a house which resembled a collection of ill fitting sheds, Runa felt as if her life had emptied, so much space inside, and so much space outside, except for all these trees and all that water.
The pond appeared to go on and on and on without any reachable ending, for no matter where she stood, all Runa saw of the far shore were other rocks, other trees, other waterways.
Was it the wildness across the pond her mother warned Runa about, the wildness her mother tried keeping her daughter from venturing into, from losing herself inside of?
After nine days of walking around the close end of the pond, spying with binoculars, being quiet and then making noise with hands and voice and feet, Runa had managed not to see, or startle, or meet, any other creature.
All these conflicting thoughts, conflicting actions, kept Runa’s feet on the shore path long past her usual “only a few steps more” self command, until the path narrowed, the forest became shadows of itself and dense, hiding itself, hiding what lay ahead, stopping she noticed the pond had disappeared from view, reaching with her hand she moved aside some overhanging branches, and there Runa saw the sign, aged but still bright, giving a warning: Beyond Here There Be Dragons.