The ice melts enough to crack …
The ice block was gone and for a second it looked like the Frozen Cave Girl was going to float downstream after it. Either that or sink, and maybe drown. That’d be a pretty bad character development: getting thawed out after being frozen for ten thousand years, then drowning in two feet of water before you were even properly alive again.Mr. Spit was in the water first, followed immediately by Foursquare and Pounce. But before she could be rescued for the second time, the Cave Girl got her feet under her, tried to stand up, fell over, and ended up sitting down in the middle of the Creek. The water was only about up to her waist and her knees stuck up out of it. Since she didn’t look like she was in any danger, everybody sort of froze and stared at her. Neither Spit or Foursquare, who were both reaching out to grab her, dared to finish the gesture.
The Cave Girl (we can’t really call her “Frozen” any more) looked around her, at the sky, at the trees, at the water. She looked at the carpet, which seemed to confuse her, then at the Fort, which seemed to confuse her more. (Understandable, since it’s made of scrap lumber plus a bunch of packing crates and old doors and windows, and while Lee’s a passable engineer and Spit and I are decent rough carpenters, none of us is exactly an architect.) Then she looked at each of us, right in the face, like she was trying to figure us out. She ended up with me.
“You, girl!” Being frozen didn’t seem to have hurt her lungs. She could holler with the best of them. I was so surprised it didn’t even occur to me to wonder why she was speaking English. I made a “who, me?” gesture, and she seemed to understand that too. “Yes, you, you Toestabber girl!” Oh, yeah. She was alive all right, and trust her to remember who it was who’d conducted that little forensic investigation. I sure hoped Foursquare and Spit could hold her if she went for me, because she looked pretty ferocious. But then she smiled, with big white teeth. “You wake me up with little knife! Much thanks to you, to all boys and girls your tribe who lives in woods. You strong and clever carry me away, and have good hearts to want to do. Much thanks see the sky again, much thanks talk and breathe.” She stood up, brushing off Pounce and Mr. Spit who tried to help her.
“Not so nice be cold and wet, but is way of ice when melts. Is hot day, will dry. I put my dress with many color blanket in drying place.” And, well she did exactly that, unwinding her “tiger” skin. (I could see that the stripes were paint, running down what was probably a cowhide.) There was general squeaking and fussing, and the boys making a show of being gentlemen and not looking. I noticed that Foursquare was just as flustered, turning his back and putting on his Overcast for good measure.
Nina, of course, was completely in her element, finding an old hot pink T-shirt of Mr. Spit’s and a piece of canvas we were saving for a project and, in about three minutes, improvising a stylish crop top and wrap skirt outfit that went really well with her bone-in ponytail hairdo. It took a little longer to convince her that she needed to wear them. When Foursquare finally turned around his eyes just about fell out of his head—the Cave Girl was about four inches taller than he was and her T-shirt was about four sizes too small.
She liked looking at him too. “Good see boys and girls not live in woods all alone. Men your tribe very handsome! You my hero!” Then she kissed him. The crowd, as they say, went wild.