NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.
Mama Knows Best
Sangre Mesa ~ Coldwater, N.M.
Warm. Morgan was pretty sure she should have been cold. She’d just spent several hours — or maybe it had only been several minutes — fighting a monster in water that couldn’t have been more than 35 degrees. She was tired and woozy and was pretty sure she’d lost a lot of blood. The wind was blowing out of the north. She should have been cold. Why wasn’t she cold?
Heat moved up the side of her cheek, its movement reminiscent of a dog licking her face, and her eyes fluttered open. She could just make out Mom’s face above her own, and she heard voices calling to each other:
Morgan tried to sit up, but she couldn’t muster the energy. She could hear Lenore clicking her beak near her ear as if to scold her for trying to move too fast.
Lie still, Queen. All is well. The dragon’s voice spoke softly in the back of her mind. She was too tired to do anything but obey it.
“Here. Feed her this.” That was Joey’s voice. What was he doing here? What was anybody doing here? What was going on?
She heard a shuffling sound as someone joined her mother on the ground.
“Good boy, Joey. Morgan, can you hear me?”
Morgan tried to answer, but her response sounded more like something between a mumble and a sigh.
“Morgan, I need you to try to eat this for me.” Something smooth, cool, and slightly salty slipped between her lips. She didn’t have the energy to chew, but she didn’t need to; as the warmth of her mouth heated the morsel, it started to melt, and she realized she had a mouthful of Irish butter. It tasted far better than it should, considering there was no bread or cake to accompany it. Her eyes closed again, and she swallowed and waited, letting the butter work its magic. The dizzy feeling left her first, and a moment later, the warmth she’d felt on her face seemed to migrate inward, heating her belly and her bones and renewing her flagging energy.
“Thank you,” Morgan said, sitting up. “We’d better give some to Dr. Kavanaugh. She’s had a hard day, and I accidentally knocked her out when I shocked the monster.”
Mom nodded. “Something knocked her out, anyway.”
Morgan winced. “That would be me. I was trying to stun the monster and ended up hitting both of them.” She braced herself against the ground with one hand and started to stand.
Mom helped her up. Morgan took the butter from her. “How did you think of this?”
Mom shrugged. “I didn’t. Joey came running up with it just as you woke up. I was about to call an ambulance.”
“Thank you, Joey.” Morgan smiled at him. He smiled back.
“You’re welcome, Morgie. Mama said I should feed it to you.”
Morgan nodded. “Of course. She’d know just what to do, wouldn’t she?” She walked several feet from the water’s edge and knelt next to Colleen, who was trying to revive Dr. Kavanaugh. “Here. See if you can get some of this into her mouth.” She offered Colleen the butter.
“How do I do it?”
“Hang on.” Morgan used the table knife Joey had brought to cut off a thin pat. “You may have to sort of pinch her lips open a little bit if she won’t wake up and eat it on her own. Just sort of slide it in there. Once it starts to melt, she should wake up enough to taste it, and her instincts will do the rest.”
Colleen took the pat of butter, and Morgan helped her hold Dr. Kavanaugh’s head as she eased the butter into her mouth.
It took several seconds, but the principal’s eyes eventually opened. “Oh. Hello,” she said, licking butter from her lips. “What’d I miss?”
Morgan grinned. “A lot, but I think your girlfriend wants to talk to you first.”