The next morning, Marsten and Effe woke up, packed the tent, ate dried fish and white-cheese which smelled like dirty old socks and descended down the
slope to the small forest which had burned so many years ago.
Effe led and Marsten followed. Her nine year old legs had to work twice as hard to stay ahead; but, she was happy and excited. Finally after all
these years, she would be reunited with her parents.
Marsten counselled Effe as they travelled. "You know we might not find them or find them alive?"
Effe confidently replied, "Oh yes we will. You just see."
Marsten knew he'd never change her mind so he was quiet the rest of the way and let the silence burn his last words into her malleable mind.
They arrived at Effe's birth-hut by mid morning. The dew was still on the ground and weeds, grasses and flowers sparkled with dewdrops. The charcoal
from the burnt hut was deep in the overgrown weeds. Marsten looked around, nudged the ground with the tip of his boots now and then, looking for
clues. "There's not much left", he broke the silence. "Were you home when the fire started?"
"No, I was at my friend Amie-Lah's house over there," she pointed South East. In the distance, the foothill declined and one could see a small
grass-thatched rooftop about a mile away.
"Did your parents have a special place, you know, one for grownups only perhaps?" Marsten asked.
Effe thought a moment and exclaimed, "Oh Yes! Yes they did! It's back by the pond. They would go there to talk without me hearing them."
"Let's go see." Marsten said.
Effe flitted through the weeds like a joyful butterfly, racing towards the pond. When they arrived at the pond, Marsten saw the new forest growth all
around it. He noticed an outcropping of rock and went to investigate while Effe threw rocks in the water to watch the ripples.
Marsten stopped cold on the other side of the outcrop. It was hollowed-out, partly by nature and partly manmade with a pickaxe. It made a natural
weather canopy and faces away from the cool winds that might have drifted over the pond at night. Inside, were three human skeletons. One longer
than the other, and one was that of a newborn or unborn baby. Marsten reckoned it was unborn because the head was pointed down, rather than up.
Martsen thought to himself, "Mother Nature kills her own children and babies, just like Pearls-Without-Swine committed infanticide. Ironic." He
gathered his wits and then walked over to Effe.
"Effe," he said in a somber tone.
Marsten turned Effe to face him, brushed the windblown hair out of her eyes and said, "Look at me."
"Yes?" Effe said much more somberly this time.
"Your parents are dead."
"NO! No! They can't be!"
Marsten let his words sink in a few minutes while Effe hit his thighs with her fists.
Effe started crying, and bawling, and crying harder. Finally, the sobs became a muted hiccup as she choked back the emotion.
"I want to see them," she said.
Marsten took her hand and led her over to the other side of the pond, the other side of the outcropping.
Effe saw them, two skeletons, lying down side by side embracing, and a baby skeleton.
"Shall we give them a proper funeral now?" Marsten asked.
Effe licked the salty tears off of her lips, bit them together and nodded her head, "Yes."
Together, Marsten and Effe dug and dug and dug some more until they were black with moist soil and tired as ragdolls.
Finally, as the sun went down, Marsten placed them in their three graves.
Effe said, "Good bye" to each of them and threw a handful of dirt in the graves. She went to the alcove, the outcropping her parent's and sibling's
bodies were found in, as Marsten filled in the graves. When he was done, Effe went back to the graves and took off her mother's necklace she had
found, placing it on top of her mother's grave. Silently, she gathered rocks and piled them up on each of the three graves and Marsten helped her.
They skipped dinner, nobody was hungry. They camped at the alcove outcrop that night. The night air was chilly.
Tomorrow morning, they would return to the Corbeaner's place.
edit on 17/2/2012 by Trexter Ziam because: (no reason given)