An orange flower. An orange flower in the hand of a wizard. An orange flower given to the wizard by a panther the wizard is in love with. The panther is enormous. Bigger than the wizard’s hut. The panther slinks in circles around the hut, crowding the hut with its greedy curves.
The panther sends the wizard to the river just beyond the waterfall. The panther wants the wizard to make the river run backward. While the wizard makes the river run backward the panther creeps up to the waterfall. Because the humans damned the river downstream, all the water quickly runs upstream. The river sucks itself dry, and the waterfall lifts like a curtain.
The panther leaps.
A woman screams.
The wizard screams. The panther scrambles away with someone in its jaws.
The wizard inspects the rocks where the waterfall once crashed and finds broken jewelry—a snapped turquoise and coral necklace caught between the boulders and gems set in gold scattered here and there.
During the rains the wizard stays in his hut with the orange flower that never loses its color. He wishes he could rid himself of the orange flower, but no matter how much he wants to he cannot let go of the orange flower. It is always with him. It is always glowing so bright so close by.
The wizard wonders why he ever settled so deep in the wilderness.