A challenge given to write a short story about marshmallows. This was what I came up with.
|“Alteia, quickly!” The shaman saw the townsfolk coming up the road and knew what was needed. Her name itself was an invocation for what she must do. Placing the remaining dandelion roots down that she was spreading to dry, she ran out the back door, to the garden paddock where her namesake grew on its own terms, much like herself. Alteia, from the old Latin that Shaman taught her so she could read the equally old herbal books he treasured. Real books! In these times! |
Althaea taurinensis, to be exact, also known by the mountain folk as marshmallow. In the right meadow conditions, it could grow deep roots and spread wide. Thus far, Alteia only knew about using its leaves for bee stings and simple poultices. Sometimes the shaman added a bit of root to some tea if we showed signs of a slight cough.
Shaman had ways to coax the most potential out of anything; be it plant, or person, as her apprenticeship has proven. Without further thought and winded from running, She fell to her knees at the base of the cultivated patch of this perennial and started yanking the plants... soon she had them all rinsed and back inside where Shaman took over. He chopped and boiled and grabbed syrups and other herbs.
The townsfolk had the virus. It had been a while, but he knew the signs. If he didn’t stop this now they would all have to avoid one another for weeks until it passed, taking old and young with it. So began the elixir, a startling discovery made from the tea of Alteia, her namesake, which has saved this remaining pocket of humanity, too many times to count. Marshmallow, earning such a sacred place in our lives that her parents, along with many others named their children as a reminder of its saving grace.