The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Kim Richards
Mouse scrabbled up the dry riverbed beneath a bridge made of stone and wood. He reached the top and stopped before a cluster of three Quaking Aspen trees.
“What happened to the creek?” he asked.
The center tree shook his branches. The spade shaped leaves turned from side to side, brightening when the blazing sun kissed their surfaces.
In a voice that rustled, it spoke, “The water dried up.”
“When did that happen?” Mouse asked.
“Oh, little one. It took years,” replied the right most tree.
Mouse sat back on his haunches. He rubbed his front feet together as if they were hands.
“I’m thirsty,” he said.
“So are we,” the left most tree said. It swayed forward just a little. “Perhaps it will rain sometime.”
Mouse hopped circles around the tree trunks. “Yes! Yes! When will it rain?”
“Don’t give him false hope,” Center tree told Left tree. He shook his branches, sending a cascade of dead leaves falling. “It hasn’t rained for many months.”
Mouse hung his head and cried.
Right tree asked, “What did you drink until now?”
“There was a place north of here. Water trickled from between stones. It slowed and eventually stopped. I licked the stones until they were as dry as my throat. That’s why I came here. I remembered the little bridge that spanned the creek…this one here.”
Right tree whispered, “I’m sorry little one. We cannot help you.”
Mouse said nothing. He just burrowed into the piles of brown leaves and grass between the tree trunks.
The next day Center tree said, “Mouse has died.”
Right tree trembled and cried, “You know we are next!”
There was no need for a reply. The Quaking Aspens stood tall beneath a cloudless sky with the searing sun bearing down on them and waited their fate.