Where Mary refuses to allow them to go hungry…
“Is that one edible?” Mary mumbled to herself. She tried to remember what local fauna was edible.
She gathered what few berries she could find. And there were prickly cactus that she seemed to recall from her studies that could be eaten.
She had remembered that cactus contained water, and right now, that was probably more pressing than actual food.
There were old nests and other signs of small creatures that lived among the barren stone pillars that formed the canyons she currently explored.
After taking care a bit of personal business, she had immediately returned to where Marshall lay sleeping. He was exactly where she had left him, safe as houses. And she hadn’t gotten lost.
Feeling confident with a successful first expedition, she ventured forth in an attempt to find some form of sustenance. They hadn’t had time on the ability to forage for a breakfast this morning. Marshall had emphasized the need to be clear of the carnivorous sauran territory above all else.
Mary wasn’t sure which need of her body was greater at the moment, the need for sleep, or food.
Her stomach grumbled with an unladylike sound that reverberated through the air.
“Fine, I guess it’s food.”
She located a nest that looked like it wasn’t completely abandoned and set up a snare. She hoped for a rabbit, but at this point, she wouldn’t say no to something more unsavory such as a vole of some type. Desperate times called for desperate measures.
With disappointment in her personal fortitude, Mary realized she had drifted off as she sat in wait for her snare to catch something. The struggles of a pitifully thin, mostly gnarled skinny legged, bird brought her out of her dreamless sleep with a jolt.
“My, you are pitiful. But if you are my only option, you will have to do.”
The poor thing didn’t look to have enough meat on it for even a taste. With a grimace and girding of her mentality with steel boning as in her corset, Mary did the needful thing, and dispatched the creature.
“If there are birds, then maybe there are eggs.” Eggs were always so much easier to deal with.
She continued her scavenging until she heard her name in the distance.
Without much to show for her time she hurried back toward where she had left Marshall asleep.
“Mary!” She heard him bellow.
“I’m returning post haste!” she called back.
“Where are you? Mary?”
“Marshall, stay put or we shall both be lost in this maze.” She could only hope he heard her and listened to her, two very different things she was well aware of.
Marshall’s voice grew more concerned with each call of her name. She picked up her pace as she threaded her way back through the labyrinthine rock formations.
Suddenly she was wrapped in Marshall’s embrace. He held her and breathed heavily.
“I thought you had gotten lost,” he finally admitted before releasing his hold on her.
“I’m right here. I was out looking for food.” She triumphantly held up the scrawny bird she had trapped. “You were so deeply asleep, I thought I’d be back long before you woke.”
“Don’t ever go wandering off like that without telling me first.” His large hands cupped her face, and his eyes searched hers.
“You were asleep. And we need sustenance before we both collapse.”
“I could have gone out hunting after I woke up.” He scooped the bird she hand dangling from her grasp. “It this supposed to be food?”
“It has more meat on it than any of the little field mice out there. It was the best I could do.” She didn’t fold under his scrutiny, something she was proud of. She had done a good job and she knew it.
“Oh, I also found these. I’m not sure which of anything is edible.”
She opened the front of her skirt wide. She had gathered it into a giant pocket to carry the various cactus and berries she had found.
Marshall reached into the collection of fruits. He began picking the berries and tossing them. “I don’t know what those are, and I don’t eat berries I’m unfamiliar with. Now this”— he held up a piece of cactus she had broken off— “we can eat it, and drink the juice. Some folks make good booze from this juice.”
He broke a few of the spikes off, and put his mouth around the piece and sucked. He let out a contented sigh as he held it out to Mary to try.
She gathered her skirt, still holding more offerings, in one hand and accepted the cactus. She was thirsty, and now that Marshall has taken a drink, she knew it would be safe for her to do so as well.
It was sticky and warm, but it felt good on her throat.
“Let’s see what we can do with this. Well done, Mary. We’ll have a decent lunch with all of this.”
Marshall smiled at her, and suddenly she felt very proud of her self. If not slightly flustered at the sudden attention.
“But, I’m serious. Don’t go wandering off again, you had me worried.”
©2023 Lulu M. Sylvian
Now that they won’t starve to death, what is in store for Mary and Marshall?