Dory pulled the back hem of her skirt up between her knees and tucked it into her waistband to form a pocket. Draping her oil-cloth gunny sack across her chest, she set the bag on her hip so she could fill it easier. With a quick flip of her hair, she twisted the long curls into a loose bun and shoved her gramps old, black Minnetonka down on her head. Loose wisps of hair were pushed behind her ears, and off she went, deep into the dark woods.
She kept under the thick canopy, climbing over downed trees and ancient, water-hewn boulders lining Rune Creek.
Gathering wild watercress and river moss, Dory turned over flat stones along the river bank looking for bowfins burrowed deep in the fine silt. Wading deeper into the rushing water, Dory strained to dig up washboard mussels. Throwing back smaller shells to give them a chance to cultivate pearls, Dory sorted out a few bigger ones she wanted to keep for dinner. She would make combs out of some of them.
Sprawling, exposed tree roots crawled down the steep river bank, reaching out like so many tangled arms. Grasping a tendril as thick as a man’s wrist, Dory pulled herself up toward the forest floor.
Resting on her belly in the sweet, perfumed oak humus, Dory came eye-to-eye with an emerald, green lizard. They regarded each other with curiosity, neither flinching, neither looking away.
“Hello, old friend,” Dory said, laying her hand out flat. “What news do you bring me today? Dreams? Miracles?”
The lizard high stepped through the leaf mulch, and onto Dory’s offered palm.
Twisting its head around until he was looking at her upside down, the lizard flicked out its red, forked tongue, tasting the spring air and Dory’s earthy fingertips.
“Ah, dreams it is.” Dory lifted her hand until she touched noses with the lizard. “I will wait for you tonight.”
Releasing the lizard back into the woods, Dory gathered her harvest and headed back to her cabin. The sun was sinking fast, so there was no lingering. Dory prayed that the night messages were bringing good portents, and not the fearsome nightmares on past nights.
Before going to bed, Dory set out a small cage with choice morsels for the lizard – fat crickets, juicy mussels, some bits of peach. She wasn’t above bribery if it meant sweet dreams. Lizards could be contrary. Dory was on the bad side of this one, and she needed to find a way to kiss and make up. Her night terrors had to stop.