Drabble 140 – Mephitic

Mephitic

I don’t like heat. I’ve made that abundantly clear on this very blog. But there is one thing that I do love about the summer–the sounds.

I live next to a big, marshy nature preserve. Every year, we get birds of all kinds returning to this area. Some of them sing nicely, some of them shriek. The shrieking ones are the pretty ones.

At night, a chorus of frogs and crickets sings. You’d think every frog in the world was gathered right outside the window, belting their croaky song out just for you.

No matter what time of year it is, to venture into the preserve is to chance getting your boots caked in mud. It’s never really dry out there, just different degrees of moist. In the winter, the whole thing floods and you can’t walk through half of it. It feels like a big sponge soaking up all the Washington rain and clinging to it, refusing to let it go.

And sure, the marsh means that my house is perpetually mosquito-ridden. I have seen bugs crawling on my windowsills that I’ve never seen anywhere else. While writing this, a dragonfly repeatedly bumped its tiny body against my sliding glass door. Mosquitos or no, I love it here.

Anyway, here’s a drabble.

MEPHITIC

(a.) from Latin mefitis for “a noxious vapor”

A foul-smelling gas or vapor.

Children shouldn’t go into the swamp because a witch lives there, hair tangled with weeds, fingers knobby with age, spells leaking from fingertips. The witch eats children; or if she does not eat them, she cooks their bones for spells, binding them in the glass jars hanging from her shack to frighten intruders.

Perhaps there is a witch, stinking of swamp gas, moss growing on her skin. Perhaps there are cursed bottles clinking in the breeze. But the children can’t see her shack from town, can’t smell the danger, and so they wander in, swamp muck sucking at their boots.

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