Today’s WP Prompt is ATMOSPHERIC. It’s an excellent way to introduce this snippet from the second book of the Neon Series, which has been my NaNoWriMo project. If I’m close to achieving the mood or atmosphere I want to set, I won’t have to tell you. You’ll know it.
Noel Kennedy stared at the moss-covered trees which seemed to float in the murky bayou, rife with alligators. Her mother, Ethni Reed, could tell that Noel was dead on her feet. She was just as tired and ready to retire to one of the bed-and-breakfast’s cabins, where her husband was already asleep.
“I love it out here,” Noel said and breathed in. “It smells like home.”
“The bayou is in your blood,” Ethni told her daughter. “We’re descendants of it through my father Aloyicius LeDoux.”
She took Noel’s arm and steered her back to the cabin and away from the river bank where she’d found her daughter standing in only her nightgown. The murky water curved, swayed, and slapped unto land. Giant trees stood like silent ninjas guarding the residents from the night. Occasionally, alligators snapped.
Noel slipped into bed, careful not to wake her own husband, Richard, who was fast asleep. He’d spent the day trying to locate anybody who’d ever know Aloyicius LeDoux. He had discovered little for his wife and her family, and Richard was more disappointed than anyone. From the moment her parents had shared their suspicions about the Chaotics and their intentions to harm Noel, Richard had been primed to fight.
Noel punched her pillow into shape, but even that small movement caused Richard to stir. He turned away from her on the small bed and Noel feared he’d fall out. Instead, he trailed his arms over the side, mashed his face down into his pillow, and picked up his quiet snoring.
Through the open window, Noel heard the sounds of the Louisiana swamps. She wondered if she could relax enough to allow her dead grandfather to find her. She pulled the atmospheric cloak of sounds about her and drifted into a sleep of sorts.
She began a lonely trek along the soggy banks of the Cajun swamps. The mud oozed and sucked at her feet and she had to lift her little legs higher with each step. She was a little girl, and she was all alone.
Noel didn’t remember taking off her Sunday shoes, but she was glad she had. Grandma Macy would’ve been upset if Noel had allowed mud and moss to cake up on the new patent leather.
A full moon lit a path for young Noel’s bare feet to follow and she tottered along. The book bag was getting heavier and Noel wanted to slip it off and sit down, but it was too slimy and nasty on the banks. Night birds screeched and called to each other. The huge yellow moon hung low, and still, Noel traveled on. Finally, she came to an old gray cabin where a big man stood on the porch.
“I’m about to take my boat out along the river,” the man shouted.
He beckoned for the little Creole girl to come sit on his steps in the soft, misty rain.
“Where are your shoes?” he asked.
“I took them off. My grandmother wouldn’t like it if I got them dirty,” she answered.
“I don’t see how your grandmother would get mad at someone as pretty as you,” he told Noel.
Now, he sat down in the mist beside her, and together they stared out at the bayou. He didn’t urge her to come inside. She would tell him when she wanted to.
“Where were you going in your boat?” she asked.
“Nowhere special. I was going to motor down the river and introduce my granddaughter to the trees and the moss, and the swamp animals.
“Am I your granddaughter?” she asked the ruddy looking man.
Aloyicius smiled, turned her head, and gazed down into her little serious face.
“Are you Joy Noel Reed Kennedy?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said, eyes bright with wonder.
“And you’ve come looking for me?”
“Yes! It’s a secret,” she whispered. “And I’m scared.”
Aloyicius pulled Little Noel into his arms. He felt another presence.
“Don’t be scared, che’. We’ll protect you!”