Sharptooth: 5

Repeat intro/note: If this isn’t your thing, please come back on 12/1. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Bang out a 50,000 word (shitty) first draft between 11/1 and 11/30. I’m free-writing in Word, copying and pasting here when I get a chunk finished. No editing. There will be typos and inconsistencies. Aiming for young adult genre, with my 18-year-old daughter as my test reader.

No set up, introduction, or summary. Just writing. I’ll add some version of this intro to the top of each post, and I’ll try to keep up with the total word count, for anyone who’s counting (that would be me). And this probably won’t be a daily thing.

And I’ll link the previous entries in this header, if I can remember to do that. Why am I doing this? To see if I can, silly. Why else would I do any of the crazy things I do?

Need to get caught up? Here are the previous entries:


-5-

They gather rocks to cover what remains of the fire. The boy pours water over the top, watches the steam rise until finally all of the heat is gone.

They are rolling the canvas full of fish when they see a boat heading toward them in the deep channel of the river.

“River Man!” the boy shouts.

She looks up and sees the familiar red prow cutting through the dark water. She waves to the boat, and the man waves back.

“It must be news day,” she says to the boy. She sets the rolled canvas back on the ground. “Bring me my pack, will you?” she says to the boy. “We’ll see what River Man has to trade for some fresh honey.”

“You have honey?” The boy is puzzled.

“Yes,” she says, reaching deep in the pack, feeling around for jar she wrapped in layers of cloth and thick paper, in case the glass broke during their journey.

“Whoa, that’s why the bag was so heavy then!’ he says, pleased with himself for figuring this out.

“Part of the reason, yes,” she says, pulling out a package that is larger than her hand can easily hold, sets it back in her bag and draws the string closed.

They will have to walk downstream along the muddy bank, through thick brush, to the landing where he can safely dock the boat. The two women have moved slowly closer to them, all day, but their luck on the water has not changed.

“We should carry our things,” she says, “so we won’t waste time coming back for them later.”

“But the woods are that way,” he says, pointing upstream. “Aren’t we coming back here?” He watches her expression as she looks toward the women. “If they take our fish while we’re gone,” he says, “then they need it more than we do. Isn’t that what you say? And I can catch more fish if they take ours.”

She nods. “OK, we leave our things – everything except the pack with the honey,” she says, hoisting the bag onto her back. “Otherwise, what will we trade for the news?”

They put on their now-dry coats.

When they reach the steep part of the bank, she reminds him about snakes, and he realizes that he’s left behind his wading stick, which would also make a good walking stick. The muddy ground is thick with tangled vines and rotting branches. She walks ahead of the boy, trying to clear the way. She glances behind, to make sure he is still close.

As she turns she loses her balance and out of instinct grabs at one of the thin, reedy trees. It bends under her weight, and she feels herself falling, the heavy pack pulling her down toward the cliff at the edge of the water. It isn’t the fall she fears as much as the water.

Her body stops suddenly. She feels a tug on her pack, a hand under her arm.

“I thought you tree people never fell,” the man says.

“River Man!” the boy shouts, for a second time.

“Hello, Bobo,” the man says, using the nickname the boy has given himself. “I should have shouted to tell you I’d come your way,” he adds, helping her steady herself again. “Been on the water all day, thought I could use a little walk.”

“Thank you,” she says, still shaking a little and suddenly cold.

They are halfway between the shoal and the boat landing. She is still wary about having left their things behind, but she is also wary of the trader, uncertain about inviting him into even their temporary camp, letting him see their belongings. More than either of those things, though, she is worried about time and weather and having to make their way back into the woods at night, in a cold rain. All of these worries, she keeps to herself.

“Let’s see what news comes from the boat today,” she says to the boy, and they walk together, the three of them, in that direction.


Total word count: 6170 (Yep; still behind, but catching up, bird by bird.)

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