How could she have been so foolish? The mountains were her heart and her bones. Mountains can shake, this is true, but to abandon one's heart and bones due to some shaking? To spend a life at sea? With the constant bobbing and heaving? Boats shake. Islands shake. Mountains shake. She could survive shaking.
The girl threw herself overboard, clung to the gunwale, and began kicking. She didn't know which way the mountains were, but she figured it was better to kick her way towards something than drift towards nothing.
The sun dipped below the horizon and the scorpion climbed out of the eastern sea.
I will find land before the giant chases the scorpion into the sunrise, she thought.
The sea lion and the otter rode in the boat, gleefully barking and yelping as she propelled the small boat towards a faint memory.
The sun rose and fell. The giant chased the scorpion towards the sun.
One day, after a rather tiring day of kicking, the girl and the sea lion and the otter saw a speck on the horizon.
An island. With a small hill.
She kicked furiously. The sea lion barked.
The shore was craggy and rocky, with no place to drag her boat ashore. She swam about in the shallows, yanking on kelp fronds until she found one firmly anchored to the seafloor, and wrapped it around her tiny, battered boat. The otter chewed on a sea urchin attached to the kelp blades.
The girl swam ashore.
Slowly, tentatively, she stood up. It had been years since she had stood on land, and she didn't quite know how to proceed. But a hill is like a mountain, only smaller, and she could see the top, so she took a few wobbly steps. She remembered running on her mountain, and climbing trees, but her legs were atrophied from her years crouching in the boat.
Every day, she wobbled a little way up the hill. Every night, she returned to the boat and the sea lion and the otter, sore and bruised from the day's walking practice. Every day, she awoke a little stronger than the day before.
By the time the giant had chased the scorpion to the sunrise, the girl found herself standing on top of the hill. From her new vantage point, she could see other islands in the distance.
Two of them had mountains. One was close, but it looked like the path was very steep. One was a bit farther away, and the path to the summit seemed very craggy. From the top of the hill, the girl couldn't tell which mountain might be better to climb. She wondered if she had the strength to climb either of them. Hills are like mountains, but the hill was low and the path smooth and soft.
Climbing the mountains would require hiking boots. She hadn't worn shoes in years. She didn't even know what size she wore anymore.
She returned to her boat and the sea lion and the otter. She rocked in the waves. She stared at her pruny toes. She thought about how wonderful it had been to stand on the top of the hill.
Perhaps I should go talk to the people on each island, and see if anyone can tell me where to get shoes, she thought.
To be continued.