keeper of the kettle

Submitted into Contest #160 in response to: Start your story with the whistle of a kettle.... view prompt

10 comments

American Contemporary Fantasy

He was parched. His tongue was swollen. It was getting hard to breathe. The drought had been going on for 100 years. He'd forgotten what trees looked like. There were no more animals. The world was barren and dry. He sat down on a rock. The only thing that survived the drought. He thought back about his life. One hundred years ago when the world was green; there were fish in the sea and animals everywhere. The unicorns lived in herds and the fruit that grew on the trees were sweet and juicy .He thought about his beloved Elizabeth, with her long blonde hair that glowed in the light of the two moons, the smile on her face, her laughter. He began to cry. Why was he the one to survive? What kind of a life was it without her?


Suddenly, he heard a whistle. A familiar sound, yet, seeming misplaced. A voice called to him: "Care for a cuppa tea?" He turned. He couldn't believe his eyes! An Oasis opened up before him! Well, no, he decided it had to be a mirage. He'd had many in the dry parched burning desert.


"Come on in, refresh yourself!" the lady smiled. "I have biscuits and cucumber sandwiches." He entered, slowly, still not believing his eyes. "Who are you?" he asked.


"My name is Katrina. I'm the kettle keeper here."


"Where is here?" he asked.


"Here is Here, Now. I heard you crying. You have come a long way." He relaxed as he heard the sound of the steaming water falling into a cup. "Would you like mint or chamomile tea?"


"Uh, mint..." he couldn't believe what he was hearing.


"There you go". He sipped it, as if it were magical. "How is it?" the keeper asked.


"It is the most wonderful thing I have had in a hundred years. I used to bring the water to my village. Oh, it was delicious! Blue, fresh, sparkling! It was an honor to be the water bearer! But then, one day, as the darkness came, the water receded. It was harder to find. I watched as the people in my village left. They tried to find the water, but it kept disappearing. My wife, Elizabeth and I left our home to find the water. But it alluded us. My Elizabeth got sick. There was nothing I could do. She had gotten the Drought Rage. I watched as she got weaker and weaker. Finally, she succumbed to the disease. The day I buried her was the saddest day of my life. But then the winds came. The sand blew in the air, like the dustbowls. My Elizabeth lay exposed; then, finally, I watched, as the wind and sand blew her bones away. I wish that I could follow her but one hundred years later, I am still here. " He sipped his tea, wonderful life-giving tea. She offered him a cucumber sandwich, he ate greedily. "I'm sorry. It's just that it's been so long since I have eaten anything. How... Why are you here? This tea, this world. It's like an Oasis." He looked out the window. He couldn't believe his eyes! He saw the unicorns! They were back! He went outside. The fruit on the trees were bigger and sweeter than he ever imagined. He turned and asked "Can I have one?"


Katrina said "Eat as many as you want. "He smiled and picked an apple off the tree. The juice ran down his chin. He picked an orange off the tree this time. It was already peeled . All he had to do was eat. A unicorn came up to him and nuzzled his hand. He had forgotten that they liked fruit. He shared his orange with the unicorn. She smiled and walked away. He followed her. After a few minutes, he found his village! The people were alive! They were happy and there was fresh water everywhere. They had gardens. The air was fragrant with fresh flowers. The roads were shaded with trees. He stared at the trees again, they grew both apples and oranges..no..bananas and kiwi. Wait! He blinked. He saw a sign posted at the root of the tree. It said "This is a tree of life. They only grow in the Oasis. Just make a wish and it will grow whatever you want". He smiled and closed his eyes. He remembered that his beloved Elizabeth loved chocolate milkshakes more than anything. He wished for the shake. His hand got cold. He opened his eyes: he was holding a milkshake! He laughed and drank the cold liquid, thick with cream and dark chocolate.


He asked again, "Who are you? What is this place?"


She smiled." I am the keeper of the kettle. A sort of guardian. I help lost souls"


"Is that what I am? A lost soul? Have I died?"


She laughed. "No, silly! You are very much alive! I can make you whole again."


"How?" he started to get frightened.


"I can bring back your Elizabeth. If you want. All you have to do is stay here, in the Oasis. You'll have your life back. Most importantly, you'll have your Elizabeth back. After all, what is left for you out there?"


He began to feel dizzy, almost floating. "What is happening to me?"


"Shhh", she said, "Close your eyes. See? Elizabeth is back."


He thought it was just an illusion, but Elizabeth reached down and kissed him. Oh, the sweetness of her lips. He smiled. He was holding her again. Actually holding her. Elizabeth's laughter was like a crystal bell, different tones and light. "Lizzy, how are you here?"


"It's okay, my love. We can be together again., all you have to do is stay here with me..in the Oasis. Is that what you want?"


"More than anything, my Lizzy." He touched her hair, her face. He turned to Katrina. "I want to stay."


Katrina smiled, "Welcome to the Oasis."


He and Elizabeth smiled. Elizabeth said "Look! It's raining!" They laughed, held hands and danced into the rain.

August 21, 2022 18:07

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10 comments

Marty B
20:10 Sep 01, 2022

Though rare in the reedsy world- I appreciate a conflict free plot. one example of this is the Kishōtenketsu. It contains four acts: introduction, development, twist and reconciliation: the structure of Japanese yonkoma (four-panel) manga. It relies on exposition and contrast to generate interest. Try it out!

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L J
16:40 Sep 02, 2022

thank you for taking the time to read my entry: much appreciated

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Ziane R C
21:12 Aug 31, 2022

Hi! I'm offering feedback as a part of the Critique Circle. First off, I loved your hook. As someone who usually isn't into fantasy, I was still drawn to your work. Your writing conjures up descriptive images in the reader's mind. The one thing that could possibly be done differently was to set up more conflict in the plot. Great work!

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L J
13:40 Sep 01, 2022

Thanks the feedback, it is truly appreciated!

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Scott Skinner
02:55 Aug 30, 2022

This was a nice quick read. For some reason, the scene in the movie Hook where the kids imagine food, and then they end up getting and eating that food came to mind when your character got the chocolate milk shake. I may be interpreting this wrong, but I wonder if the character is accepting death, and that's how they get to the 'Oasis'? Or, perhaps it is more surface-level, and it's a fantasy like the tag mentions? Or maybe it's both? Either way, I enjoyed it :)

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L J
19:55 Aug 30, 2022

thanks for taking time to read my story. I tried to incorporate all the prompts we were given . One of them was about seeking an oasis literally or figuratively. Thanks for asking the question: maybe it was both? Thanks again, glad you enjoyed it

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Zelda C. Thorne
17:53 Aug 29, 2022

Awww I enjoyed your imagination here. I was worrying that the keeper of the kettle was secretly evil and tricking him somehow, so it was nice to have a happy ending instead!

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L J
17:55 Aug 29, 2022

thank you for taking time to read it!

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Susan Williams
02:35 Sep 01, 2022

I agree, I thought there was something twisted about to happen regarding the keeper's offer.

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L J
19:02 Sep 01, 2022

thank you both. I just wanted a simple little story, no complications.

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