The ceremonial site had, for years, flooded when it rained hard. The ring of massive oak posts planted in the earth smelt faintly of damp and rot. It had been that way for as long as anyone living remembered.
This year, as his extended family approached the site for the gathering, Shrimper detected a new scent – salt. As they breasted the rise, his breath caught. The lake which the site overlooked was no longer a lake – it was an estuary. Half the islands which had sprinkled the Silver Lake were gone. He exchanged a look with his wife, but they said nothing.
The lake folk were, however, behaving as though nothing had changed. Reluctantly, he bit his tongue on the subject of the radically-altered landscape, and went on with the usual business of the gathering – trade, marriages, renewing old ties…
It was not until the next day, before the future-telling, that he was able to grab his wife from the women’s camp for a word. He muttered: “I don’t think we should let Pale Flint marry that boy.”
“Why not?” she asked, though he could tell she was apprehensive too.
“This place is drowning,” he said simply. She did not protest. Things had been hard with the rising sea and ever colder temperatures on their own coast as well, though Shrimper’s boatbuilding skills had seen them through so far. And the sea had not taken nearly so much of their home as it had the lake people’s.
The shaman inhaled the fumes and shook furiously. He started to babble.
“Ask him about the sea!” Shrimper heard one of the elders hiss. “I can’t get any sense out of him,” complained another. “I heard something about boats as big as islands… a gleaming white henge as tall as the sky… spinning bird wings.”
Shrimper noticed the horror and confusion in their eyes.
How do they think up this nonsense? he wondered, despairing of ever getting his daughter out of the marriage. A light breeze once again brought the tang of salt to his nostrils.
© M. Willis 2013