Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TRUST (07/21/16)
TITLE: Mai's Dilemma
By Holly Westefeld
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see at first was the image of long, sharp teeth imprinted on the
inside of her eyelids. When she dared to peek through her
lashes, she released her breath. It was her own cozy nest, with
her little ones curled up, sleeping peacefully around her.
Mai sniffed, and she realized that the roaring she heard was not
a great striped one, but the river that ran through the forest,
swollen and raging from days of rain. This spawned a new fear.
Not in her seasons and a half of life, but tales had been passed
down for generations of how just a few from their colony had
escaped a flood seasons ago by a whisker. They had climbed a
tree and clung to its branches through the storm. The water had
come inches from their refuge before slowly receding.
Padding to the opening, she peered through the pounding rain,
twitching her ears. She ran to the neighboring holes squeaking,
"The river is flooded! We must flee!"
She dashed back to her own nest and woke her young ones. The
colony gathered quickly. Mai, and other mamas with older young,
each carried a newborn in her mouth as they ran away from the
They stopped to rest when some of the younger ones started to lag
behind, but the water was right on their tails. One of the
wisest mamas spoke up. "All of our legs are tiring. I think we
had best climb to the top of this tree than try to keep going."
Mai made sure that her little ones were right behind her. It was
all she could do to scale the tree, buffeted by the wind, without
losing her footing, or her grip on the newborn she carried. Baby
returned to its mama, Mai gathered her own little ones close
around her on a high branch close in to the trunk.
They waited. The storm showed no sign of stopping. Before long,
their tree was surrounded by water, which climbed steadily up the
trunk. Three feet... Two feet... One foot...
Mai was beginning to wonder if Creator would not spare them this
time, when she heard a roar above the roar. Swimming right
toward their tree was the biggest striped one she had ever seen.
Well, she had only seen one other, since she took shelter at the
first smell or sound of them ever since she had been young and
foolish and dared poke her head out of the nest to see one
passing by. It was that singular image that stalked her dreams
to this day. Was the terror of drowning `not enough without
Creator letting a striped one find their last hope of shelter?
"Mama, he is asking if we would like a ride to the hill."
Asking? All she had heard was a slightly softer roar. But the
striped one had stopped swimming, wrapped its powerful claws
around a submerged branch, waiting. Most of the other mamas were
already on its back. One of Mai's young looked ready to jump.
"Wait! It may be a trick to capture and eat us!"
The striped one's next vocalization almost sounded like a laugh.
"The lot of you wouldn't even make a decent snack."
Mai hesitated. She looked at the water, now only six inches from
their branch. She looked at the long, sharp teeth. Would
Creator use one of His most ferocious beasts to spare them from
drowning? Five inches...
"Come Mai," one of the wisest mamas urged. "It is at least a
Mai looked up. There were still a few slim branches above them.
She looked down. Four inches... She looked back up. Should she
trust Creator to keep the wind from blowing them off the smaller
branches and stop the storm before the tree was submerged, or
could she trust that He had sent the striped one to save them?
She looked at her young ones. They were nearly old enough to be
on their own, but still looked to her for wisdom. What if her
decision cost them their lives? Three inches.
"Mama, all of the rest of the colony is on the striped one's
Mai looked at the teeth once more, then the water. Two inches...
"Okay, little ones. We trust Creator. We will trust His striped
one, just once." Mai loosened the grip of her nails on the
branch, and jumped.
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