For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #114, where we write about this photo from the Google Photo Frame.
Enola’s father had been respected among his community. She saw how, as an elder, villagers had sought Denali’s counsel, had cherished his wisdom. But yesterday, Denali had finally breathed his last. Along with her mother, Halona, Enola had maintained a strict sentry duty these last three weeks, since Denali had collapsed. In turns, they had cooled his brow with water from the lake, and swathed him in berry poultices. But, to no avail. The pair had observed him steadily fade, and last night, he had finally succumbed.
There had been a ceremony, of course, a celebration of his life. The entire village had said its farewell, during which Halona, her youthful beauty for the first time showing its age, had remained graceful. Only a daughter’s eye saw the near-imperceptible reactions which gave any clue.
And, still not quite finished.
A select few had gathered at Halona’s dwelling for one final blessing, before the immediate family – Halona and Enola – were to accompany Denali on his final journey. Looking Glass Lake, the pure, glacial lake overshadowed by the Great mountain, the island which had been the village’s burial ground for generations. At one with nature, once again. That view, the stillness, the serenity, had always been Denali’s favourite. A party had already crossed to the island last night, to prepare a fresh grave, although tradition held that only the family would attend at the end.
As the guests began to leave, Enola slipped away. She stepped into the boat, where her father was already waiting, for a final few more minutes with him. A late baby; her parents were already ageing when they had been blessed with her arrival. She had only known Denali, the gentle statesman. The rock, and Enola worried now for her mother.
Minutes passed. A flurry of people, and Halona approached, accompanied by some elders. One helped her clamber into the boat. There was one more task to complete.
The names used are all Native American names. Respectively, they mean:
Denali – “great one”,
Halona – “happy fortune”,
Enola – “magnolia”,
Which I thought were appropriate.