Flash Fiction Challenge fro Terrible Minds: Write a story about gods or goddesses.
“Hurry, Caril, it isn’t much farther.”
Ceridwen tugged at her companion’s arm, a boy ten years of age, red-faced and sweating. In spite of her pulling, Caril stopped and shaded his eyes from the sun.
“This had better be worth it,” he groused.
“Just wait; you’ll see.”
Ceridwen resumed her hike up the gentle slope with Caril trudging behind her. After twenty minutes, Ceridwen halted and pointed triumphantly to a rock by the path. In front of the rock was a small lawn; Caril could hear the sound of water. On one side of the rock was a tiny spring that trickled into a small basin. The basin was obviously man made. Curious, Caril edged closer to the rock as Ceridwen pushed back an overhanging growth of fern. There was a niche carved into the rock above the basin and resting in the niche was a figure about a hand span in height.
“Don’t touch it!” Ceridwen said, as Caril stretched his hand toward the figure. “The goddess does not wish to be disturbed.”
“How do you know what the goddess wants?” Caril asked.
“Well, if you were a goddess would you want to be handled by a grubby boy?”
Caril started to protest but Ceridwen grabbed him by the shoulders and looked into his face with eyes glowing.
“Isn’t this an exciting discovery? Just think of how long she has resided in this rock, year after year, holding court by her spring!”
“How do you know it’s a goddess?”
Ceridwen looked at Caril primly.
“It’s because she has breasts,” she said. “See?”
Ceridwen pointed at the figure.
“Now we must give her an offering for trespassing in her sacred place.” Ceridwen reached for something on the other side of the spring and pulled out a wooden cup. She filled the cup with water from the basin, poured out a small amount, and then offered it to Caril. When he had drunk from the cup, she refilled it and drank of it herself, and then shook the remaining drops on the ground. Then they both lay down on the lawn hand in hand and watched the leaves flutter overhead. Presently Ceridwen broke the silence.
“It’s a wonder that Father Paul didn’t find this altar and tear it down,” she said. “You know how he feels about idol worship.”
“What if Mother discovered it!” replied Caril. He and Ceridwen looked at each other aghast. Caril’s mother, Lady Irmtraud, was a battle-scarred warrior in the fight against all things non-Christian.
“Well, then, we will have to cover our tracks especially well and hide the altar so that the goddess may rest in peace,” said Ceridwen. “We must protect her from those who know just enough of God to be dangerous but not enough to be kind.”
Amalia strolled leisurely among the trees. Her two companions romped on either side of her; all three of them rejoiced in the mild warmth of the weather. Amalia lifted to head to watch the passing clouds.
“AMALIA!” Mole shouted. “Watch out!”
“Too late!” Skunk groaned.
Amalia plowed into a figure kneeling in front of her. She tumbled head over heels and landed on the ground.
“OOMPH!” she gasped. “What happened?”
“I’m afraid that would be me,” said a young woman sitting next to her. “I happened to you–or rather my hindquarters did while I was poking about in this bush. Are you hurt? I did not hear you coming else I would have moved out of your way.”
“I’m quite well,” said Amalia. “It’s my fault for not watching where I was walking. Although I must confess I did not expect to find…Oh!”
While Amalia was talking, the woman rose to her feet. She was tall and beautiful. Though dressed in a simple tunic, she radiated the aura of a queen.
Amalia scrambled to her feet.
“I beg your pardon,” she said, with a curtsy. “My name is Amalia and these are my friends, Skunk and Mole.”
“Well met,” said the young woman. “I am the goddess of the spring–or at least I was. At the moment I am rather springless. I have lost my spring.”
“What!” Skunk exclaimed. “How could you lose your spring? (Don’t shush me, Mole.) I mean, being a goddess and all, isn’t that rather unusual?”
The goddess smiled.
“Not at all. Life escapes, you know.”
“Well, we will be happy to help you look for it,” said Mole. “Especially Skunk.”
“Thank you. That is most kind of you.”
“So, what does your spring look like?” asked Amalia.
“Wait, let me guess–it’s wet,” said Skunk.
Mole rolled her eyes and shook her head. But the goddess nodded.
“Skunk is quite right,” she said. “My spring is wet; it’s about eight feet tall and two feet across at its widest point. It was around here somewhere.”
The goddess got back down on her knees and began feeling along the ground; Amalia, Mole, and Skunk joined her.
For the better part of an hour, the four carefully searched the area for some sign of a spring. Skunk, who had wandered away from the others, spied something in the bushes and pounced on it. Suddenly the goddess sat upright and sniffed the air.
“My spring is close by–I can smell it!”
She rose to her feet.
“And I can hear it!” She looked around and spotted Skunk.
“Skunk, dear, what do you have in your hand?” she asked, running over to him.
Skunk held up a small object. It appeared to be made of wood. He handed it to the goddess.
“Oh, thank you!” she said. “You’ve found it!”
Then she walked over to a rock over hung with ferns. She parted the ferns to expose a small niche and basin carved into the rock. She gently placed the object into the niche; immediately a stream of water burst forth from the top of the rock and trickled into the basin before cascading down the side of the path. The others crowded around.
“What is that?” asked Amalia. “It looks some sort of figure.”
“I am the goddess of the spring, and this is my image.”
Amalia looked more closely at the image and then at the goddess.
“I beg your pardon, Goddess, but this doesn’t look anything like you. I mean, you are beautiful while this image is… well… it’s rather… ‘unfinished,’ to put it nicely.”
The goddess caressed the figure.
“You see me as beautiful; that is because one’s character is revealed by the gods they create. My creator was a person of boundless joy and great integrity.”
She turned to the others, her eyes shining.
“I wish you could have know him, the young man that made this image and carved this resting place for it. But that was centuries ago. He was still a youth then, newly arrived to this country. He was no artist, but his hands did what they could to express his love and gratitude. He knew this figure was merely a symbol. Like all creators, he fashioned his imaginary world out of his inner self, but he did not make the error of mistaking his imaginary world for the real one.”
“You’ve been here for centuries?” asked Mole.
“Over seven hundred years.”
“And in all that time, you’ve never lost your spring?”
The goddess shook her head.
“Unfortunately, it has happened a few times. There are those who see the image as a symbol for something else, something that offends them. When they discover my resting place, they tear down the image and destroy the spring.”
“Then we must keep you safe,” said Amalia. We must find a way to hide you better so that you and your spring are protected.”
“No, my dear, that will not do. I am not meant to be safe.”
“But someone else might destroy your image, and then you would lose your spring.”
The goddess embraced Amalia and smiled.
“Wherever there are thoughts of joy and thanksgiving, I will always find the Eternal spring.”