Day 4/14 to write, edit and publish a short story.
Siobhan and Dhoul made their way through fields of clover in the heat of the day. Down past the remains of Rodagh Farm, through long hedges, and up to the edge of the cliff where they looked down into the still waters of Lake Cuiglebeahg. The air was thick and humid and tinged sweet with the aroma of honeysuckle.
“Where are the little boats? And the birds?” asked Dhoul.
“They will return in time. They have fled, for now.”
“Because I ate their food.” Dhoul hung his head and perched himself on a boulder beside the cliff. Siobhan smiled at him and nodded. She climbed onto the boulder and sat with him, and they watched the sun pass overhead.
“Do you remember the ox and sheep?” asked Siobhan.
“Mmmm…” Dhoul flicked his tongue and closed his eyes. “Will there be more?”
“No,” she said. “You ate them all. Even the ones not set aside for you.”
“They’re gone?” he said, lifting his head and searching the countryside.
“If you take them all, there will be nothing left.”
“I had to take them before they were gone. The man was taking all the food from the field into that wooden cave of his. He wasn’t even eating it, just hoarding it.”
“Harvesting it. Is that why you stopped him?”
Dhoul ducked his head and looked back toward the ruined farm. “Yes?”
She picked a blossom from the hedge, plucked the stem and dragged it through the bloom, then popped it into her mouth. She took a long breath and let the petals fall into the water.
“If I eat just enough for me, there will be more later. Here, can you taste this?” She plucked another blossom and offered him the nectar on the tip of her finger. Dhoul flicked his tongue, she shivered.
“I should bring them more sheep,” he said after a long moment. “I won’t eat any of them.”
She smiled and nodded. “Maybe after a while. The people are angry with us.”
“That’s why there are no boats.”
“Yes, that too.”
“That man was called Rodagh, he was my friend, and now he is gone.”
Dhoul blinked and cocked his head. “But there more of those.”
She squinted and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Not quite.”
“Alice, you hurt my friend Alice too.”
“But you helped her.”
“And if I had not, she would be gone. There are more tortoises and more people but no more Alice and no more Mr. Rodagh.”
Dhoul clamped his eyes shuts and covered his snout with both claws.
“Who am I?” asked Siobhan.
“You are called Siobhan,” he said and perked up. “Yes?”
“Yes, but if there is no more Siobhan, then you have lost a friend. Like the village has lost Mr. Rodagh.
“So, I should only eat some of his sheep?”
“Better, but not quite. You should only eat your sheep.”
“Which are mine?”
“Only those I bring you.”
“Oh… the others… are not mine?”
“You’re a good boy Dhoul.” Siobhan wiped a tear from her eye. “Just take those things I bring you for now?”
Dhoul reared back on his hind legs and flapped his wings. “Yes!” he said. “You are my friend.” He landed back on all fours, and the impact flung Siobhan from the boulder sending her tumbling into the grass. She picked herself up and glowered at him. Dhoul cringed and closed one eye.
“You are a brute,” she said. “But you are my friend too.”