Lisette couldn’t believe her luck. Or lack thereof. She wasn’t lost. The Children didn’t get lost. But Lisette was having trouble finding her way. Challenges were a part of life. You couldn’t wax without waning. Lunarist sayings always made it seem like you could get through anything. And while they weren’t wrong, they didn’t help when you were slugging through marshlands, probably in a circle.
Lisette’s stomach growled to remind her of another problem. “By the sun.” Lisette’s cursing became more exotic as she searched every pocket of her clothes and pack. A pack, she had thought would never run out of food. But like the four other times Lisette had searched, there was no food to be found. And the swamp didn’t have many prospects either. Unless she wanted to go fishing for crocodiles.
Now that had been a sight to behold. Lisette had never believed in stories of a creature that shone like golden shells and flew through the water with nothing more than its tail. But she believed after nearly getting eating alive by one. Its scales had sparkled so fiercely that Lisette had to run blindly through the swamp to escape it. That was part of the reason she was lost. Or rather, had wandered off the path.
The sun began to set and while Lisette should have been rejuvenated by the slowly appearing moon, she only felt apprehension. Lisette knew she was a failure. A good Lunarist would never get lost. Her brother only needed to glance at a moonlit sky for a minute before knowing his exact latitude and longitude. Of course, Lisette always doubted his word, but the rest of the clan were always impressed. He certainly never got lost at night.
Lisette sighed and found the driest patch of ground to watch Mayhene rise in the sky. Her ever watchful eye seemed to judge her, but then, it always had. Lisette knew she was no great traveler. She could barely be called a wanderer. And her mapping skills were as good as a child’s drawing. Perhaps worse.
Lisette pulled her maps out anyway and compared them to Mayhene’s Charts. Other Lunarists would scoff at her using the stars to navigate by instead of the moon, but locating stars was so much easier than remembering a million equations that depended on the day of the year to be accurate. Mayhene had given the Children the stars to guide by anyway. Lisette was only using what her goddess had given her. Though her arguments always seemed to be trying to convince herself of their truth. Certainly, nobody else felt that way.
After an hour of careful study of the stars and her maps, Lisette determined that she was significantly off course. Not that being off course was a bad thing. Wandering unused paths brought the greatest adventures. But if Lisette didn’t find more hospitable lands soon, her journey’s map would be at an end.
Lisette stopped thinking at that thought and gave over to joining her stomach, moaning and crying over her predicament. This was truly her darkest night, but Lisette didn’t know if she would live to see another moonrise. She fell asleep then, instead of traveling at night like she was wont.
The morning came and brought sounds of life with it. Lisette woke in time to see a sunrise full of resplendent color. Lunarists typically ignored the sun as if it were an eyesore to bare. It was a jealous thing after all. The sun couldn’t stand to let the moon’s soft glory be seen by human eyes, so the sun burned as brightly as it could to stand in way of the moon. But the sun always got tired and had to relent at night. Lunarists knew that the moon was always there, even when a jealous sun was blocking sight of it, but that didn’t make them friendly towards it. But that sunrise, like every other, brought her more hope and light of life than the moon ever had. It was her greatest shame to admit. But she thought the sun beautiful anyway, in its own way.
Then Lisette realized she hadn’t marked in her mind or on the ground which way was the shortest route to civilized lands. Her mood sank once more. But Lisette stood and started walking anyway. At least she could cover more ground before she died. Her map of these swamps was probably near complete.
That was an enriching thought. They said the lands you traveled in life was the world you lived in at death. Lisette shuddered to think that much of her map would contain a horrid swamp. That image quickened her steps even more. Every step fill of wet squishing noises that made her angry. Angry enough to run. To run blindly through foreign lands. Not knowing where she went.
And that was how, two days later, living off of muddied water, that Lisette landed in a blueberry bush. Once she realized what she was tangled in, Lisette cried in relief. The ground was firm too. She had made it out of the swamp. Lisette stuffed her face with blue and red berries alike, not caring how sour they were.
Night would come soon and Mayhene would be visible once more. Lisette could check her maps to see where she had landed and perhaps make a prayer. A prayer of thanks and a request. A request that when Lisette died, her afterlife would be full of blueberry bushes and not a single crocodile.
Photo by Chris J. Davis