A Taxing Awakening
by Perry McDaid
Just why she had woken up in a forest beside the sweetest little waterfall, she could not say, but some whimsical part of her decided to enjoy the experience for a while. The sun was warm, the stream was cool on her left calf, and the waterfall gurgled like the child it was.
Her perspective shifted. She was half in the little brook, but there was no sense of sodden clothing. She grimaced. Something crawled over her thigh.
She blushed, determining that putting money of her being totally starkers would not be much of a gamble. She forced open her eyes, daring fate to prove her wrong. Well, actually, hoping fate would prove… But no matter, facts were facts, and the gentle wind tickling her areolas only substantiated the issue.
She turned her attention to the creepy crawly with no little dread. It was only a little green caterpillar. Relieved, she charted its progress for a while before plucking it from her skin as it moved towards a more embarrassing region, and placing it on a nearby dock leaf.
She tried to rise, but a searing headache forced her to ease herself into her original position. She waited until the sky stopped spinning before wondering about the leather saddle between her legs. This was mortifying. Surely she wasn’t that sort of girl? Her cheeks blazed. She was a lady. Wasn’t she? She strained towards recollection and fell short.
“My Lord,” she panicked, “I’ve lost my memory.” Her face blazed fiercer at the nefarious potential.
Her escalating paranoia was interrupted by the sound of male voices from somewhere beyond the trees. She lifted her hand to her head and probed the back of her skull. Her fingers came away blood-free. Well that was a good sign, she hoped.
She tried to rise again, but could only roll on her side in time to accommodate the vomiting. A dissociated voice commented that it was pity to pollute the stream, but her stomach remained unconcerned: diaphragm heaving the half-digested remains of a previous meal in a short but impressive jet to spatter the surface and float sluggishly downstream.
“There…did you hear that?” It was a rasping voice of an old man.
“Yep,” a younger man responded dryly. “I’m guessing that’s our Lady Godiva.”
“Do you think she’ll like this colour of blanket?”
“It doesn’t…you know…clash with her hair or anything.”
“Are you for real? She’ll be glad of anything to cover her. Heck, she’ll be glad of being found. That bloody horse was going at some pace. Besides, it’s tartan.”
“I just don’t want to upset her or anything… Her hair is tartan?”
There was a pause, followed by a low chuckling. Her memory was coming back. The pageant: Godiva’s famous—mythic—naked ride through the town to protest against her husband’s taxes.
“What are you laughing at?” The older man sounded affronted.
“Seriously, Ralph,” the younger man replied, catching his breath. “Don’t. Even though nobody bloody well asked her to go naked, I can’t think of a less appropriate situation for you to make a move.”
“Well,” the man called Ralph said with some indignation. “I am rescuing a damsel in distress.”
“Yeah,” the younger man’s tone was desiccated. “That and a clothes coupon will get you a coffee.”
Sally remembered her name, just as they broke through a screen of shrubbery. She swivelled her head only…and waggled the fingers of her free hand.
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Irish writer, Perry McDaid, lives in Derry under the brooding brows of Donegal hills which he occasionally hikes in search of druidic inspiration. His diverse creative writing appears internationally in the like of Auruora Wolf; Quantum; Runtzine; Horrified Press; Amsterdam Quarterly; Everyday Fiction; Bewildering Stories; Flash Fiction Magazine; Bunbury and others.