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A Deal Too Good - A Short Story

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I'm a young author making a break in the world of writing. I have experience writing short stories, books, poetry, and reviews.

A Deal Too Good

A loaf of bread in hand, the girl flew down the street. Her royal blue cloak caught the wind behind her as she narrowly stepped in between the crowds of the marketplace. The slapping of her shoes against the stone road was drowned out by the loud surrounding chatter and the music playing in the town square.

Down the road where stone leads to dirt.

Follow the bloom till where water runs.

That’s what the older women at the tavern had said to her. 100 gold to throw some bread into the water and to retrieve a pink flower. It was a very odd request, but for 100 gold she couldn’t say no. Instead, she ripped the still-warm loaf of bread from the women’s hands and promised to be back within the hour, running out right after.

Flowers of many colors lined the entrance of the traveler’s path that began two turns from the market street. The stone turned to gravel then turned to dirt as the girl entered the forest. She knew that as long as she kept seeing flowers next to her feet or by the trees that she was going in the right direction.

On the ground, the path was anything but clear. Tree roots stretched their way out into the path, rising from the ground perfect to trip the unsuspecting traveler. In some spots, the path grew so tight that branches tugged and stuck to the girl’s coat. An occasional forest creature would dash through the path which frightened the girl each time it happened.

At this point, the girl was getting frustrated. “Why does this path have to be so complex? I thought traveler’s ventured through here all the time? I would have thought it would be clearer.” These were all thoughts that ran rampant through her head.

She has only been on the move for around 20 minutes. It was so tempting to take a bite of the bread which was still somewhat warm, but she had to resist. There was no way she would lose the opportunity to gain 100 gold, she needed the money more than anything.

The girl began to see puddles on the path. At first, they were tiny, as if someone spilled a bit of water while walking. But soon the puddles grew in their size, ranging from the usual rain puddle to puddles that spanned the entire walkway. Her boots quickly grew muddy and her socks were soaked from stepping in too deep of water one too many times. Soon enough, however, the girl was able to breathe a sigh of relief when a sparkling river came into view.

The water ran crystal clear, the rocks and fish visible from beneath the foam. Flowers of many colors pressed close to the edge, some petals reaching over and casting shadows onto the water. There was a tiny clearing in the walkway, creating some space between the trees, the girl, and the river. On the other side, however, trees pressed as close as the flowers.

One flower in particular stood out to the girl. With a stem over a foot long, a pink flower reached its way over the river as if an invisible arm was handing it out. It would be quite the stretch for the girl to grab it. The river was pretty wide, but looking around, there wasn’t another pink flower. Yellow, blue, red, any and every other color was present in near abundance, but not pink.

The girl moved over to the shore, setting the loaf of bread down on the grass. It would be completely inedible after this anyways so the girl didn’t bother to keep it clean. A nearby tree branch provided her with leverage as she leaned over the rushing water. One wrong move and she would fall in. Sure, the water wasn’t deep enough to sweep her away, but she was wearing clothes she couldn’t get wet.

Her fingers grazed the petals. The branch her hand was tightly wrapped around was the only thing keeping her up. Her knuckles against the wood were turning white and her muscles were stretching further than she thought possible. With a final grunt, she yanked the flower, stem and all, out of the ground and into her hand. She tossed back her weight and landed back first onto the dry ground.

Against the sunlight, the petals sparkled. The girl heaved a sigh of relief before rising back to her feet, ready to get everything else done and over with. She grabbed the loaf of bread and tossed it into the water, already turning away when she heard it splash.

The silence after the splash quickly stopped as the sound of boiling water could be heard from behind. Popping, gurgling, and the sudden change in temperature prompted the girl to turn around.

It seemed as though the river got wider and any fish that were there before had scurried away. Hot waves of air came up from the water and blew towards the girl, causing her face to twist.

Fear began to spread through the girl. Weird things have happened before in her town, but nothing like this has ever happened to her. Of course, she should have known to not take such a weird task from an equally weird stranger. No amount of money was worth the worries that she wouldn’t make it out of the forest alive.

The bubbling water turned into a whirlpool, the force of the swirls ripping away the vegetation that hung too far to the edge. She took a step back as a figure began to rise from the water. The figure didn’t have an exact shape, its form was made of water being pushed together by an invisible force.

“A mere child.” The figure had no mouth yet was able to speak with a faraway voice that echoed in the space. “Have you any idea what you’ve gotten yourself into?”

Instead of responding, the girl was frozen. She continued to stare as the figure moved to the front edge of the river. It didn’t seem like it could go over the land, but that didn’t matter as an arm reached out across the empty space and grabbed onto the girl’s arm.

The flower in the girl’s hand flew out and away. What the girl never got to see is that this flower flew all the way back to the woman who first gave her the task. The older woman would look down at the sparkling petals with a content grin, knowing her part in the girl’s fate.

With a pull, the water figure pulled the girl off of her feet and into the whirlpool. The water became much deeper than previously possible as the girl was taken to a whole other realm where an entirely different life was waiting for her arrival.

© 2021 EL Doll

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