This is an experiment in digital barding. There’s a tip jar below if you like the story. I had switched to a Patreon only model, but a friend pointed out that sometimes people just want a single story. Or a sample before they commit to supporting a project. Different audiences and all of that.
Some babies are born with a caul over their face. Folks tell you it means they have the sight. That they are lucky. She was born with a caul, but it wasn’t white, wasn’t the smooth lining of the sac that carried her inside her mother. It was red, the deep red of the darkest rose petals. She smelled less of blood than of mulch. It was life, but not the coppery smell of human life. She smelled like green things, like the woods at dusk or after a rain storm.
She was a beautiful baby, though her color under that caul was…odd. Oh she’s brown like her mama, that warm rich brown of good soil in some places. But there was something green under that brown. They checked her for jaundice, checked her mom too, made sure her blood wasn’t mixed with something that would turn a tox screen new colors. They had social workers in too.
No daddy you see, and her mama so young, they tried to convince her that her fine pretty new baby would be better off in that sterile place. That the cold plastic tubs and hermetically sealed windows were the best place for a new baby. Her mamma smiled, nodded, and then got up, put on her clothes, picked up her baby and left. They tried to stop her, tried to bar the way, but she wouldn’t be stopped, couldn’t be stopped if you ask some of the nurses and volunteers.
She left in a green car, not just the color green, one of those newfangled ones that runs on air and sun or whatever. It had a seat for the baby, grew it or at least looked like it was part of the car. And she walked like her hips didn’t hurt from pushing that baby out, just sauntered on out, put her baby in the car and got in all by herself like it was nothing. The only paperwork we could find after she left named her as Rose, and that baby as Bloom.
I know it wasn’t none of my business, but something…something about the story, about the smell and the baby’s name led me to follow that car when I saw it later. To wait for them to come out of the store with a cart full of things that didn’t go together at first but did later.
I walked into the woods far enough to see the car…change. It still moved, still had wheels of a sort, but it wasn’t the shiny green of metal or plastic any more. It ran on air & sun & water because it was as alive as the people in it.
Rose and Bloom were the only ones in the car…thing, but they weren’t the only ones in the woods. They were met by others, people who looked less like the folks you see down to the swap meet and more like something out of a story. Big slow moving men with hair like tree branches, round comfortable looking grannies with eyes like knotholes. If trees could be people then this would be their kin you understand?
They took the things she brought, cuddled Bloom, and walked further into the woods than I could go. I don’t mean my legs didn’t work. They did, I tried to follow, but…they walked in a direction that I couldn’t reach. I still go back from time to time, still look for that car. I haven’t seen it again, but when I do? I’m going to ask for a ride. Going to ask if they need someone who knows how to use the tools she bought, because I have a feeling one day they’ll come out of the woods and I would rather be on their side.
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