Thursday, June 6, 2013

It Takes a Village - Chapter 6

This is a 12-part story, originally posted at iRez. It's part of the Avatar Blogger Month event and featured at the Avatar Blogger Crossfit exhibit at LEA11.

6. The Gypsy Camp

“Kelly!” yelled Isabella alarmed when the child took off running into the woods. Her daughter was in the habit of going from total calmness to full blown hyperactivity in a fraction of a second. “Kelly, come back here, now!”

But Kelly was not an obedient child and Isabella struggled to follow her daughter. By the time she came to a fork in the path, the child was gone.

“Kelly! Kelly!” She was nowhere to be seen.
Isabella took the right path for the only reason that she could hear voices coming from that side and she thought Kelly might have been drawn to those voices. The dense forested area, even in daylight, seemed a bit daunting, a feeling only heightened by the fact that many crows perched on the trees, observing her silently. They were not intimidated by the presence of a stranger, quite the opposite; they seemed to intentionally want to intimidate her.

“Kelly!” she screamed even louder to no avail.

Suddenly she reached a small bridge. The voices were closer, but not as loud. Her screaming had alerted a few people. She crossed the bridge and walked towards the gypsy camp. By then she was sobbing.

“What is it, dear lady? What happened?”

The gypsies drew closer, moving her to sit down by the fire.

 “My daughter… I can’t find her. I crossed the woods… but I can’t find her… She is so small. I have to…”

“Calm down, dear lady, calm down. We will find her,” said an elderly woman, placing an arm around Isabella’s shoulder. “Here, have some tea.”

Isabella took a sip and a deep breath to compose herself, and looked around. A large number of gypsies watched her. They must think she was deranged, but she had lost her kid. She knew this would eventually happen. Kelly was far too rebellious to do as she was told. Isabella always imagined her child being kidnapped or getting killed, and the violent death of her husband only magnified this certainty.

“Calmer now?” asked the elderly gypsy. “What’s your name, dear lady?”

“Isabella…” she whispered.

“My name is Mirela. You are safe here.”

Isabella nodded and tried to stand up.
“No, no. Stay, just for a bit. You need to rest,” Mirela said. “The men will look for your daughter. Kelly, isn’t it?”

Isabella nodded again, defeated.

“Good. Check the mill first, quickly,” ordered the elderly gypsy woman.
The men seemed to understand the urgency of that order, something that totally escaped Isabella. They took off, running into the woods.

“We’ll rest here for a bit and then we’ll go to the village and try to see if the little one is there.”

Suddenly Isabella recalled the reason why she was at this village. She checked her watch, something the gypsy matriarch found bizarre. Perhaps this woman was just putting on a show and there was no child. The elderly gypsy woman adjusted the brown shawl around her shoulders and reached for Isabella’s hand.

“Let me see your hand, dear lady.”

“Oh, no, I... I am sorry. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I don’t believe in those things…”

The gypsy woman took Isabella’s hand and turned the palm up; she followed the light ridges with her index finger. She frowned a few times and shook her head.
“You’re a very dangerous woman.”

Isabella was surprised by this abrupt statement, even slightly offended.
“Dangerous? I am not dangerous. I am just a mother looking for her child. As a matter of fact, I am wasting time here. I thank you for your help, but I must be on my way,” she said, standing up. The friendly crowd became a bit less compassionate-looking, she noticed.

The old gypsy woman stood up slowly. She looked at the floor and frowned. She shook her head again. “Dear lady, if you are lying and there is no child…”

“There is! I told you. She ran off into the woods,” interrupted Isabella with a mixture of irritation and spite.

A stifling silence settled in.

After a few long minutes, she could hear the men calling for Kelly. They were coming back.
“Nothing,” one of the gypsy men said as they arrived, brushing dry leaves and a few kernels of wheat off their coats.

“The mill?”

“Nothing. We went to the fields too. No one has seen her.”

“The river?”

The man shook his head. “Nope. The village is filled with strangers though. Some of them looked at us sideways and mumbled some comments.”

 “Strangers?” asked Mirela.

Isabella shifted her body weight from one foot to the other. “It’s the train. It got delayed. We are all stuck here till the next train arrives” – and she took a step towards the wooden gate. “Thank you for your help, but I must go now.”

 “Very well, if you must. We hope you find your child,” said the Mirela cautiously, looking at Isabella as she turned and ran away through the gate towards the Manor. “Son, keep an eye on her.”

The young gypsy man, who had led the search party for Kelly, nodded in agreement and took off to follow Isabella.

Chapter 7: The Indian Pavilion

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