Pru in the Dimple of the Broad-Smiling Boy
Pru turned from the window—resigned to amusing herself indoors. She lived in a cabin in the left dimple of a broad-smiling boy. Though she'd often heard the boy sing beyond the snowline of his cheek, she'd never met him; he probably didn't even know she existed. On sunny days she would lie on the cabin floor and song-bathe her toes in the melodies that lilted down deep into the dimple. Pru would add soul when it suited. But today, so dreadful and rainy, only the shish-shish of rain seeped in.
On the fourth day of downpours, when she could bear the song-less cabin no more, Pru zipped herself up in her slicker—the one dappled with sky-blue adamantine moths and lemon swans—and forged the ravines and steamy forests of the dimple. The ground was glassy and elusive all the way to the snowline, where she stopped. She'd forgotten her snow boots—on purpose, if she were honest. Pru had no fond feelings for snow. In fact, Pru had never felt snow at all. She would not go on, so she tramped back down to the cabin, closed herself up—and waited.
As the rain grew chronic and the cabin floor began to flood, Pru removed her socks—the ones with the jam butterflies and tiny green smiles—hung them up to dry and splashed around in the puddles. With all her soul, she went on singing the songs she remembered from sunny days, hoping the boy would hear her and sing along—until one day she heard a tune coming from beyond the snowline. At last. She ran to the window and pressed her ear to the glass. The melody was melancholy and wan, wandering along a Locrian scale.
Pru held her hands to her ears. "I will not listen!" she shouted, but the weather—which couldn't have been less agreeable—swallowed her plaint whole. And the water was still rising. There was nothing for it. Pru pulled on her snow boots, strapped up the centipede laces and nibbled on a pretty thought. "There," she said. "That will keep my ankles dry." But the next day salt rings were inching up the leather like the rings of two wobbly trees boring into her soul. She took a deep breath. She had to confront the boy even if it meant slogging through snow. "A soggy, salty dimple simply won't do."
With a lunch of wasp's eggs and pretty thoughts, Pru set out again. As she climbed, she found that the dimple's forests, crags and scree had changed. Everywhere, the boy's landscape was blanketed in a crystalline layer of salt that crunched and crumped beneath her boots. At the snowline, she hesitated. She stuck a boot toe into the powder. And then the other. "Well now. That's not so bad." The snow was perfectly white and pretty. "And one can see where one has been," she remarked, looking back at her bootprints as she walked.
Through ever-deepening snow she trudged for hours—until, in fact, she was down to her last pretty thought. But at that moment, she rounded a ridge to see the imposing profile of a runny nose. "Hello!" she called and waited for a reply, but none came. "Hello up there! Hello, Boy! I'm Pru, the little soul who lives in the dimple. Do you know it's flooding? Hello!" Oh, who was she fooling? Her cries were too sheer to be heard by something as large as a little boy. To make worse matters worst, it had begun to snow again—and her bootprints were already fading.