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She first saw the river when she was a tiny child, not even knee height next to her father. It fascinated her. Its surface sparkled like it was made of a million sapphires, and it stretched away so far that she thought it might reach the end of the world.

Her father placed a heavy hand on her shoulders and spoke to her in his most serious voice. The river is dangerous, he told her. Do not underestimate it. Do not call down its wrath.

Her people feared the river, and everything it could do. Their houses were built with all the doors and windows facing away from the river, because they believed that watching it brought the floods. The fishermen lived far from the rest of the tribe, because they risked the wrath of the river every day that they spent along its shores, and must therefore be careful not to bring down its fury upon their neighbours.

Bridges were unheard of, and boats forbidden. Her people never crossed the river.

Still, it fascinated her.

She slipped away from her chores to watch it sparkle under the sun. She crept from her bed to gaze upon it at night.

She grew into a tall, beautiful young maiden with only one thing on her mind.

She would find out what lay beyond the river.

© Kari Fay

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