The Cave
by Lorelei Jones

It wasn't frivolity

that caused her

to edge nearer to the hole.

It wasn't only curiosity

(though goodness knew

she had that in spades).

Perhaps the lure

of the Otherworldly

drew her forth,

caused her to release her hold,

to release her fears

and take that final step.

Limestone caves

were common enough in this region,

cliffs and hillsides

littered with crevices

just right for an inquisitive youth

to go exploring.

After all,

hadn't her own brother

shared stories of his own adventures?

Spoken to her of whispered voices,

sparkling lights,

faint music echoing

against stony walls?

Surely this cave

was as likely as any other,

for it was said

that many linked into one system,

like ant runs belowground.

The opening,

tall enough to admit her body,

beckoned.

And she complied.

She stayed with the light at first,

letting her eyes adjust

to the gloom.

It was cool in there

and somewhat damp.

Hmph.

Nothing very exciting so far,

she thought,

somewhat disappointed

but also relieved.

If Maman knew she was there ...

no, nine was old enough.

Raising her chin

she took three deliberate steps

into the shaded stone mouth.

Pausing, she listened.

Water dripped musically

somewhere farther in

but that was all.

"Allons," she spoke.

"on... on... on..."

called back her cave voice.

There was a patch of light up ahead

and she moved toward it

listening to the scuff of her steps.

Looking up,

she saw a hole in the cave ceiling.

Dancing dust motes

sparkled in the sunlight,

setting her mind

thinking of fairies

(the storybook kind,

not those as we know them,

as we know better).

Enchanted though she was,

nine doesn't keep its attention long.

She peered deeper...

yes, another dim light.

Her sneakered toes

sent pebbles scattering

as she walked

through the dim tunnel.

Not as bright, this one.

Unease was beginning to set in,

little mouse-feet of disquiet

scurrying up her spine.

The water noise,

intriguing or not,

was still further along,

into the dark.

"Mais non," she decided

and turned back

toward the cave mouth

and the light beam

between she and it.

Yes, back to the dancing dust,

only a few yards to the exit.

Feeling much relieved,

her feet brought her to the opening.

She stepped out.

It was gloomy in here,

damp.

It didn't seem nearly as scary

as her brother had said.

Ah, there,

a bit of light ahead -

no need for fear, was there?

Bravely, she walked down the tunnel,

passing shadows,

entering the light

that pierced the dim cave.

Flickers of dust

in the pale beam

made her giggle,

and she blew into the light

setting the specks dancing.

She was feeling a bit tired now,

and a touch peckish.

She turned her back to the cave mouth,

took her steps

to regain the entrance

and stepped outside.

The pale light

didn't penetrate far,

but she figured

if her brother could venture

into these wonderful and mysterious places,

then so could she.

There was a light patch ahead...

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