Children At Play
The sled plodded along through the late winter snow. It snagged here and there on something unseen or bumped and bounced on the detritus of the forest hidden beneath the snow. Leif’s footsteps as confident as they are gave the sled a staccato rhythm as it started and stopped behind him as he would his way past obstacles.
Leif ignored the sled. He had to otherwise he would have destroyed the thing hours ago for its incessant bumping of his heals. He was taller than most in his village and yet no one could spare some more rope to length the guide on the sled for him. It’s not like they were lacking in tree bark. But things were tight and everyone had to make due.
Leif’s little trips to the coast were a welcome reprieve for him. They allowed him time to escape, to trade, to explore. Something his people were hesitant to do. They wanted to stay holed up at home, never venturing past the borders of the outlying farms. But Leif knew there was more to be found out there, the world had once been so - people called all of it home. Just not now.
The village didn’t have guards so much as it had children being children. They played at sentries and the like, posting up and charging Leif a toll he was always happy to pay. Normally he offered them some tale or treat from his journey, though they never varied greatly. He was only ever gone a week at most and even then he didn’t travel that far. Just further than anyone else he knew.
Today the kids had something for him. The anticipation was rolling off them as he came out of the trees. He could see the smiles and hushed secrets passed between them even from a distance. They didn’t even wait for Lief to reach their checkpoint before mobbing him.
“You missed it!”
“No he didn’t silly!”
“I’m not silly!”
Leif stopped, smiled, and knelt down to deal with the kids on their level. “What’s going on? What did I miss or not miss?”
“A traveler!” they shouted in unison.
The kids spat it out as if they’d spent the time rehearsing the lines, so excited to share the surprise with Leif that they were speaking over one another.
Leif looked around the village quickly. All seemed normal. But he was still worried. There weren’t many who travelled anymore. And he would have heard from those he visited on the coast if any others had passed through. All it meant was that the person, whomever they were, came from inland. Not an unlikely thing, there were supposed to still be villages there. It was just unheard of.
He stood and said, “well let’s not keep them or your parents waiting. I’ve got lots of things to deliver.” With that Leif, his sled and a bounty of children set off into the village to see what awaited.
Today’s art is courtesy of Ismail Inceoglu from Varna, Bulgaria.