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Artemesia

The Diviner next Door

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“Wait Mom, I forgot my scarf!” “Okay, Clementine, but hurry.” Clementine Alchemrin raced back into her childhood home, her wild brown hair streaming out behind her, her blue eyes twinkling, and found her scarf. She jumped back in the car and her mother pulled away, following the U-Haul truck that her father was driving. Lola woke up from her short snooze and licked Clementine’s fingers. Clementine looked back at the house that she had known all her life. As she watched it get smaller and smaller, she thought of all the years she had spent there, of all the milestones that had passed in that house.

Clementine didn’t want to leave, and her parents were so enthusiastic about moving into the country and “turning back to Mother Nature,” that she had been feeling sick the last couple of days. The reason that her small family was moving was because her parents had become fed-up with city life and wanted to move to the countryside, grow a big garden, get animals, live off the land, and have Clementine home-schooled. Actually, Clementine wasn’t so mad about all that living off the land stuff, she was just mad that she had to leave her friends and her life behind. Well, thought Clementine, at least I still have my dog.

As the landscape spun by, and the houses became fewer and far between, Clementine thought about her new life. Her parents had said that if she wanted, they would buy her a horse. Of course I want a horse! I have wanted one all my life! Lydia and Frederick also said they would buy cats, goats, chickens, a cow or two, ducks, pigs, and maybe some sheep. Clementine was really excited, but she didn’t let her parents notice. She wanted them to regret their choice as much as possible. After a very dull and uneventful car ride, Lola, Clementine, and her mother finally arrived at their destination. As her mother piloted the car up their new road, Clementine noticed a little house off to the side of the road that almost looked deserted; the odd thing was that there was smoke coming out of the chimney! She decided to keep her trap shut about it, but to hold on to the thought if ever she were to hike around the area. When the car finally reached the end of the long driveway, Clementine stepped out of the car looked up, and gasped.

The house was breathtaking! It was an old Victorian style house with a tower on the top and an impressive stained-glass window over the main door. From the looks of it, it had two stories, and maybe an attic. Off to the left side was a big red barn like the ones that were described in books and stories. “Well, Clementine? What do you think?” Her father had come up behind her and was looking at the house too. “I love it! I can’t believe that I’m going to live in it!” Lola barked her agreement. Clementine’s father then told her that the animals would come the next week, and they would start looking for a suitable horse for her. “And, if you want to, then we could also get another dog too.” “No, Dad, I think Lola’s enough. Thanks anyway.”

The next few days were spent unpacking, organizing, painting, and settling in. Clementine absolutely loved her new room which was painted her favorite color, light blue. She had a bunk bed with a couch underneath it, a desk, a hanging chair, a big open window, and a huge closet, all things she couldn’t have before when her family lived in the city. Clementine was beginning to like her new house, not just a little but a lot.

The next day the animals came. There was total chaos; oinks, grunts, moos, baas, quacks, clucks, meows, and annoyed barks from Lola. Obviously, the noise was too much for her sensitive ears. She slunk off into the house to get some peace. Clementine saw her go into the house, but didn’t take much notice of it; since they had arrived, Lola was always going off somewhere to explore her new territory. Over the next couple of hours, Clementine was kept busy moving all the animals into their new homes. The horse that she and her family had picked out, a beautiful Morgan, also arrived and got settled in. After a long day’s work, Clementine was hungry, dirty and tired. But she was also very happy and content. “Clementine, time to eat!” Lydia was calling her daughter to dinner.

“Coming! Did you feed Lola yet?” Clementine called back. “No; I thought you did because she goes and does her business after her dinner. She’s not here now so I assumed you already fed her and she went to the bathroom.” “Mom, Lola isn’t with me! Lola, come here! Lola, where are you?” The search for Lola had begun. Clementine’s family tried to organize the search, but they soon found it useless. They hunted throughout the house (which took quite a while, considering that it was two stories and that they didn’t know the house really well), they searched in the barn, and in the backyard. Finally they came together and had a small conference. Clementine spoke first: “I think Lola got lost. I want to go to our neighbor and ask if they’ve seen her.” “What neighbor?” Her parents simultaneously asked. “The one on our road living in the little house that looks abandoned,” Clementine answered. “Then by all means, let’s go!” And they got dressed warmly and accordingly, and set off.

As they were walking down the road, no one noticed the approaching storm that had blown up on them. They arrived at the house. Clementine knocked on the door and politely stepped back. She waited a few minutes, and then as she was about to knock again the door swung open, revealing a weathered old woman. “Well, I surely did read the ivy leaves right,” she said in a cracking voice. “I’m really sorry to be bothering you, but we just moved into the house down the road and my dog got lost. We were wondering if you had seen her.” Clementine answered, perplexed with what the woman had said. “I’m sorry to have confused you, my dears, but you see, I am a woman who reads the earth to answer questions. My name is Bronhilde. I am a diviner.” Her answer met silence. Clementine was the first to realize what this meant. “So that means that you could see where Lola went!” “Exactly, my child! I will do that right now.

Clementine,” - the moment Bronhilde said her name Clementine and her family gasped, but didn’t say anything - “Fetch me some of those ivy leaves from the pot. Now I will see if Mother Earth has anything to say.” By now the Alchemrin family were totally speechless. Bronhilde picked up the leaves, held them up to her eyes, and furrowed her brow. After a couple of moments, the wise diviner said that Lola was perfectly fine and that she had sheltered in a nearby cave to avoid the oncoming storm that her instincts had warned her about. After the family recovered from their shock, the family got the location of their dog from Bronhilde, they heartily thanked her, promising to come back and get to know her better. Then they went on their way, a feeling of wonder in their minds.

After walking for about thirty minutes, they came upon the cave and found Lola. She jumped up and licked their hands, showing obvious relief and joy. Father, mother, daughter and dog, reached home just as the storm hit. They fondled over Lola, fed and bathed her. Then Clementine bathed herself, likewise with Lydia and Frederick. They Alchemrins ate, and went to bed, tired but satisfied that they had found their pet. After that experience, Lola never strayed too far from home. Clementine got to know Bronhilde very well and even took some lessons on divining from her. She did still miss the city and her friends sometimes, but with all the animals and the garden to take care of, she soon forgot all about them. Her parents were very happy that the arrangement had worked out so well. And Lola, well, she went to Bronhilde once in a while too!

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critic300 on 1 April, 2015

a very nice story