Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.
Elijah strapped the packages and foodstuffs to the sleigh. When they were secured, he went and fed the dogs. It would be a long day for them tomorrow. It was the hard time of year. It was time for the Melt. Each year their small community packed onto sleds to escape the floods of the spring melt. One who left too early faced oppressive cold and winds in the high country. One who left too late faced mud and run off and risked the sudden floods. This winter’s weather had been tumultuous, and Elijah felt uneasily that they might both be too early and too late. This year, perhaps nothing would be right.
In the morning, Elijah and his neighbors left their communal home. It would not be there when they returned. Ahead of them stood miles of whiteness, the great fertile flood plain. The world was silent but for the creaking of the ice under the sun. All day long, the dogs pulled the sleds. Elijah and the stronger men and women skied alongside the sleighs. The children and the elderly rode the sleighs.
Late in the afternoon, the party came to a river.
“This ice is no good,” Elijah’s sister Elta said. “Look, cracks run deep into it, and the color is not right.”
“I said we left too late,” someone said.
“We’ll have to go around,” Elijah said, trying to force an air confidence he did not feel. “This has happened before.” It had happened before, but never without death and suffering. The fickle sun shone down, weakening the river further.