Danny's Story

21. in which danny squeezes through dark spaces

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Danny froze, arm extended to pick up another onion. She remained crouched to the ground, stock still. Holding her breath, she looked up toward the crone. The old woman was half hidden behind the book and the pedestal on which it sat, so Danny could not see her expression or tell what she was doing.

“Careful,” said the venison.

Slowly, quietly, Danny crept to the wall and ducked behind the side of the kitchen cabinet. There, she hid in the shadows.

Meanwhile, the crone grunted and walked back into the middle of the room. “Rrrr,” she growled. “I smells onions. Where’s my onions, then?” She rattled the kettle with the fire poke. “You, then! Eaten my onions, have you!”

“No, marm,” said the snake, only the very tip of its white snout barely visible over the black edge of the kettle’s lip.

As Danny listened to the crone grumble around the shack like this, she peered into the darkness between the cabinet and the wall. There was about two feet of space between the two, in which a hung a filmy mess of spider webs. If she sucked in her tummy and moved slowly, she might be able to make sneak behind there and to the other side where the book was. She edged up to the side of the cabinet and stood ever so slowly. She found herself looking down at the back of the venison’s rump, and at the bright reds and purples of its spilled guts. The crone was within eyesight, back turned to Danny.

Closing her eyes and sucking her stomach in sharply, Danny began to creep behind the cabinet. She prayed and pleaded that the spiderwebs were dry and deserted. Once completely behind the cabinet, Danny could barely breathe. She kept her eyes bunched closed and focused all of her attention on her shallow breaths and on shuffling slowly sideways.

Finally, she emerged on the other side of the cabinet, covered in a thick layer of dust and old webs. Pressed against the wall, she took a deep, relieved breath. Then, she took stock of her new position. She could not see the crone from here, and the book was only a few feet away. All she had to do was move slowly, slowly to it and hope the crone remained preoccupied.

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Christie “Iamba” Bailey

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