Glad you could join us for the next mind-boggling episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
Barry’s powerful frog kicks launched them forward so quickly, in moments they had left the burning woods and its evil spirit behind. They streaked on in utterly dark wetness.
Elliot had no idea how far they were below the surface nor how soon — if ever — they would rise to the top. The bubble trapped in his shell gave little buoyancy under the weight that compressed his world into a compact snail-shaped hole in the river.
If I felt like this on dry land, I would break out in a cold sweat. I hope my dear Cassandra doesn’t suffer in the same way.
Would he live to find out? The gash in his tail seared like molten lava. Speckles were beginning to float before his eyes, and he feared the coming of a darker shade of black.
A brisk wind surprised his lungs, and proved the speckles to be stars when Barry broke the surface and reported, “We’ll come up twice more before we get where we’re goin’. How are youse holdin’ up?”
Her cheeks as pink with excitement as the edges of the sky were pink with the coming dawn, Cassandra’s elation sparked something moody blue in Elliot. She beamed. “It’s such a rush, isn’t it, darling?”
Certainty shone so brightly in her eyes, Elliot hadn’t the heart to disappoint her. “I can hardly wait to do it again, sweetheart,” he answered. The lie sounded like bravery, but it tasted like chicken.
Grinning all the way across his face, Barry called, “Time to go!” and inhaled a swimmer’s breath.
In the silent depths again, Elliot felt the new spark within ignite a small flame of doubt.
Will I be enough for her?
He tried not to look at it. He tried to extinguish it, but with each successive dive, he surfaced to her radiant joy, and the flame grew. Re-submersion didn’t quell it.
Will she tire of me? Will she leave me when she realizes I’m not as fearless as she is? How can I possibly deserve her?
By the time they reached Barry’s destination, finally coming up in a wide pool of berries as red as the sunrise, Elliot’s slumping spirit showed in his posture.
Cassandra began, “What is it—?” but their rescuer broke in.
“Look sharp, El,” Barry directed, pointing across the way to a large, sullen frog sitting among the fruit. “Youse’re about ta meet da King!”
Pain shot through Elliot’s tail as his raw nerves jangled.
To be continued…