Shrunk (NaNoWriMo 3)

in Tales/short stories2 months ago

A name isn't bad at all. I don't know if it was me who chose it if it came with me at my birth but I became attached to it. She was the only one who called me although she didn't speak much. She had the power of words, could read and write even in languages I never heard before. If we didn't walk outside, searched for the right herbs, fruit, nuts, or mushrooms, I watched her while she cooked or read. She had many books and not one cover was the same. Could one person read all of them? She did and later so did I. It was after we celebrated my third birthday she picked up the blackboard again and told me she would teach me how to write.

"If you can write you can read too. Practice is all you need. You remember this word? It's your name."

She pointed at the letters she wrote on the board and spelled one letter after the next c - l - a - r - i - s - s - a. Keep looking at them and repeat these letters. If you know them you know six letters of the alphabet already. I loved to learn and kept repeating the letters she taught me. Suddenly the words I heard turned out to be a combination of signs, signs called letters. She cut my name in pieces and we made new words out of it. I never knew with six letters I could make that many words, so many names were hidden in it. Names I would use in my life later on. Each one of them was a part of me, Clarissa.

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The best part of the day was selecting herbs and preparing them. Each one of them filled the house with a gorgeous scent and my skin seemed to absorb it. I could wash my hands as many times but the scent of the herb I touched remained with me. It was in a small cabinet where she saved the syrups and liquids. Those who could be saved forever. Syrups against the cough, a sore throat, liquids to keep warm during the winter or fought the fever and different pains. Although she knew about each bottle what it contained she labeled them carefully and told me to watch the cabinet and always keep it closed.

"We don't need any of it for us as long as we have the garden. We have everything at hand but we need to be prepared besides others might need it. These are dark days we live in."

It was the second time she mentioned the 'dark days'. It was exactly what she had said as she threw a handful of coins to the man who wanted to get rid of me, who said I was good for everything. The dark days... I didn't know what they meant but I felt it was something to take seriously and to be aware of.

"We are good here. You have nothing to fear but those days will last and many will suffer from it and... die. The death, we cannot prevent it no matter how hard we try or how much we want it... Remember it isn't a bad place to be. It's where the souls rest deep in mother Nature. She wraps herself around you as I do with you.
You remember the village?"

I nodded. How could I forget that filthy place? It was the dirtiest location I ever saw and smelled. Not dirty because of the animals but those creatures who called themselves humans. Later, much later I learned humanity doesn't come with the human breed. Animals know everything about humanity just like humans know about bestiality. Someone must have mixed up these words.

"The village is a dangerous area. We cannot go back. This plague spreads fast and with it, tuberculosis and more diseases are set free. I know you are still young but it's good to know more about the diseases, the epidemics in the world we are living in."

By now I know there's no cure and you can't fight what is after you, hunts for you. Carmen knew it nevertheless she tried, helped, brought relief together with the hygiene tips to those willing to change. Some were grateful to her, others blamed her due to their shortcomings. I noticed how sad she felt but never realized it was fear that changed those lazy complainers into hateful folk ready to kill as soon as they met her again. Her days out became rare, she mainly remained home.

One morning as I woke up I turned out to be right. Those eyes I saw on my first day in the herbs garden, those eyes belonged to someone. She became my friend and sat next to my bed as I woke up.

"Good morning, you sleep long."

I rubbed my eyes and wondered if I could believe them or dreamed.

"Do you remember me?"

I shook my head.

"That's disappointing but the good thing is I remember you crawling around between my precious rosemary and thyme... You grow fast. How you manage that?"

The small figure talked fast and even if I could speak there was no silent moment to respond.

"Get up on your feet. Time for your bath and to get dressed. I'm sure you can do it yourself. Well, I hope you can because I doubt I am of much help."

Perplex I gazed at her but after she told me a second time to hurry I hastily did as I was told. Except for me and this little creature, the house was empty. Where was Carmen? She had never left me alone, at least not as I could remember.

"No reason to panic."

The creature popped up in front of me on the table.

"You are not alone. I take care of you and if we need help..."

She snapped her fingers and the room was filled with similar creatures like her. They smiled and waved at me with their little hands.

"She takes care of us that's why we take care of you. You are never alone. You know how to make a fire?"

"She's a bit young to make fire," one of the creatures said. He had a long beard although he didn't look old."

"Everyone is too young to do anything if we ask you..." she cut off Longbeard, "well, can you?"

I wasn't sure if I could since I never made a fire before. The fireplace burned when Carmen needed it. I frowned.

"I see. I'll give you our tea and make some fire. Get her some tea before she starves."

The creatures left in the same way as they came and before I could blink a fire burned and five small pots of tea stood in front of me on the table. She poured herself some in a tiny cup. It was the smallest I ever saw.

"You like it?"

I nodded.

"We make you your own if Carmen agrees with it. Let's say it's a delayed birthday present. Get your cup. The rest of the tea is yours."

The tea was different from the one I was used to but it tasted good and it made me feel warm and a bit drowsy. She said it was an old recipe of her grandma.

"You think this is enough?"

The creature with the long beard stood in front of me and looked me in the eyes. My head rested on the table and I wondered why I felt so strange. I just woke up, left my bed. It felt hard to keep my eyes open. Longbeard tried to lift my eyelids.

"How come little girls are that heavy," he remarked.

I vaguely remember she kept talking. At times it felt as if she whispered in my ear. Words in a language unfamiliar to me but the sound of it made me listen. The chanting, first started by one voice in my ear, soon filled the air around me with many voices. How I would love to join them.

As I opened my eyes I was surrounded by a crowd. How did they grow so fast? They suddenly had the same length as me.

"Follow me," my friend said with a cheerful voice, "I'll show you where we live. There's plenty of time left and we have work to do. Give me a hand or you fall off the table."

She grabbed my hand just in time. They didn't grow but I shrunk. With a soft sound, we landed in the herbs garden.

Amount of words: 2344
Prompt: grandma (added after the episode was finished)

A part of this episode isn't posted.

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