Thursday, March 26, 2009


Kick sat on the edge of the hearth, gingerly tracing a nasty cut on his forehead with his fingers. It was a dark moonless night, but despite the fact that it was early autumn the air was still warm. Kick wished he had a mirror to see how bad the cut was. In the stillness of the night he could plainly hear the stream he had heard while walking through the woods the day before. He looked in that direction, and although the woods were pitch black he entertained briefly the thought of trying to find the stream so he could clean his cut, but he decided to wait for morning when he could find his way more easily. “I don’t need another bump on my head,” he thought to himself.

It occurred to him that he didn’t know for sure how long he had lain unconscious inside the old fireplace before coming around. It could have been days for all he knew, but he thought that was unlikely. “Probably just a few hours,” he muttered to himself. With his hand, Kick felt the side of his head where dried blood ran down the side of his face and into his left eyebrow, hair and beard.

Despite the wound to his head and a splitting headache he actually felt a little better. The shakiness and nausea from the day before, or whenever that was, seemed to have subsided. Kick’s feet and lower legs, which were hanging over the lip of the hearth while he was unconscious, had fallen asleep so he stood up and walked around a bit. Behind the chimney, Kick noticed a fallen birch tree. He ripped off huge sheets of the flaky white bark and deposited them in the fireplace. Then he walked around snapping off dead limbs from those trees that ringed the clearing. When he came to the apple trees he located a hard pitted apple and ate it even though it wasn’t ripe. It was small and sharp tasting, but he was hungry enough to overlook that.

Before lighting the fire, Kick picked up the box which he had found hidden in the wall of the chimney. He grunted as he picked it up, surprised again by its weight, and set it down on the hearth outside of the fireplace. Then, producing a lighter from his pocket, he lit the birch bark which instantly blazed and crackled merrily.

By firelight Kick opened the box, the lid of which was rusted shut. Using a nearby stick as a lever he managed to force the lid open and inside he discovered a higglety-pigglety heap of gold and silver coins. They were covered in soot, but as he ran his thumb across a coin the gold shined brilliantly in the firelight. The silver was tarnished black.

“What do the Widjiwats want with this?” he wondered.

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