This might go in the eventual Master & Apprentice flash series. For right now, I’ll put it here.
To Dine, Perchance to Scream
Master was already awake and up. This wasn’t unusual. Try as I might, I could never quite manage to rise before he did. That wasn’t the odd part.
Master simply sat at the table, smoking his ancient pipe and blowing smoke rings. Even then I wasn’t especially concerned, that is until I realized he was deep in thought.
That was never a good sign.
He finally looked at me. “We have a problem. Morea is hungry.”
“The dryad? I thought she didn’t need to eat.”
“Technically she is a maliades, not a dryad, since her tree is a mulberry, not an oak…I wouldn’t mention that to her if I were you.”
“Believe me, I won’t.”
“We’re having a dry spell. Now it’s come to my attention Morea is refusing to feed so that her tree can take in what water there is. Sunshine alone isn’t enough, and we can’t have the poor lass starving.”
I was beginning to see the issue. “Well, she can eat human food, right? The problem would be getting her to accept it.”
Morea, as I well knew, was a prickly and prideful creature. She would not accept charity from a human. Now I knew the reason for Master’s deep contemplation. Yet I’d had several run-ins with the nymph which Master had been wise enough to avoid. It wasn’t anything like a relationship, but it was something approaching an understanding. That is, I thought I understood her. Now was my chance to see if I was right.
“Master, I have an idea.”
“Pleased to hear it. Frankly, I’m at a loss.”
By noon I had reached the meadow carrying a heavy basket and doing my best to appear nonchalant. It was sunny and warm, though the trees ringing the meadow were resting in shadow.
“Lovely day for a picnic,” I said aloud, and to no one in particular.
I judged the distance and placed my basket just inside the shade of Morea’s mulberry tree. “I do need some wild onion. I saw some growing near the brook.”
Of course, no sooner had I taken a few steps I heard Morea’s laughter. I turned, and of course she had the basket.
“That’s mine,” I said.
“Anything in the shadow of my mulberry belongs to me, and don’t think I’ve forgotten the time you put your filthy hands on my tree. I think I still owe you something for that. Now watch.”
And I did, looking sullen, as she ate everything in the basket and drank the small jug of cider besides. I had wondered about the cider, but considering it was mostly water, I didn’t think it would hurt her. It did bring a bit of a blush to her already rosy cheeks.
“May I at least have the basket back?”
“Sure,” she said, and threw it at me. “One more thing…”
“Yes?” I asked.
“You’re a terrible actor. Thank you,” she said, and disappeared.
Maybe I didn’t know her as well as I thought.
©2021 Richard Parks