The River Goddess
      Based on the book
      The River Goddess and Other Stories
      Valentine McKay-Riddell
      Contact: James Clois Smith, Jr., Sunstone Press. (505) 988-4418
      Log Line: Intuitive teenager Alyssa encounters a mysterious River Goddess in the arroyo near her family’s casita. Delighted about being rediscovered after a long and lonely exile, the Goddess offers to help Alyssa learn how to use her considerable powers. Alyssa becomes the Goddess’s apprentice and spends many months practicing her teachings. She loves this practice and becomes quite skilled at it, but little does she know that she will soon need everything she’s learned to save the life of someone very dear to her.
      Act I
      It’s early morning in the arroyo behind Alyssa’s casita in Tesuque, New Mexico. The sun casts long shadows on the sand as she walks slowly along, looking from side to side and occasionally stopping to bend down and examine something that’s caught her eye—an odd-shaped rock, a tree, a rabbit scampering away to hide under a nearby chamisa. Suddenly she stops, and with a gasp of astonishment, kneels down beside a little root that looks like a dancing woman. She decides to build a shrine to what she believes is a River Goddess, and spends some time gathering stones until she has surrounded the root with a low wall of river stones.
      Cut to:
      Alyssa is kneeling in the sand beside the shrine, talking to the root. She says she talks to all kinds of “things” and they talk back to her. Musing out loud, she wonders if the root is actually a River Goddess that’s been lost and trapped in the arroyo, and to her great shock, the root answers. It is indeed a Goddess, lost for many centuries and forgotten. But the Goddess rejoices now because she’s been rediscovered and honored, and she wants to reward Alyssa with a gift: she may have whatever she wants. At first Alyssa is speechless, but then she regains her voice and tells the Goddess she would like the gift of Knowing. The Goddess warns her that she will have only one choice, and this is a challenging gift. But Alyssa is determined and insists that this is truly what she wants. The Goddess agrees and takes Alyssa as her apprentice. She’s terribly excited and leaps up to rush home and tell her parents—Heart, who is a healer and Owl, who is an artist—about her new friend and mentor. They’re used to her flights of fancy and receive the news with good-humored acceptance as they sit together around the supper table.
      Fade to:
      It’s late afternoon in the arroyo. Alyssa walks up to the shrine, sits down crosslegged, and greets the Goddess. Her greeting is returned and she begins to ask the Goddess questions: What does the Goddess mean when she says “Energy flows where attention goes?” Why do people act strangely when Alyssa displays her new knowledge? How can she be in one place and see what’s happening in another? And so on, while the Goddess patiently answers each question and then has Alyssa experiment to see the truth of it for herself.
      Act II
      The sun is just rising above the Sangre de Cristo mountains towering beyond the arroyo, and Alyssa’s on her way to visit the Goddess. She arrives at the shrine to discover that the stones have been kicked aside and the Goddess is missing. Looking desperately around she notices the Goddess has been uprooted and is lying off to one side. Horrified, Alyssa picks her up and comforts her. The Goddess reassures her that she is alright, despite having lost part of one of her branches. But Alyssa wants to take her home for safety’s sake and hang her in the window of the casita. The Goddess agrees that this is probably the best idea, and they move off down the arroyo to the casita where Heart helps Alyssa hang the Goddess in the window.
      Cut to:
      One night Alyssa has a terrible nightmare. In the dream she sees the arroyo, filled with tossing, foaming yellow water. The sky is split with lightning and she hears thin voices screaming for help above the roar of the violent storm. She wakes up shaking and crying, and Heart and Owl come in to hold and comfort her.
      Fade to:
      The next morning Alyssa is sitting in the living room of the casita, talking with the Goddess, who tells her this was a premonition—not something that has already happened but something that might happen—and that Alyssa must be ready to deal with it in case it does. This is small comfort, and Alyssa becomes afraid to sleep at all, much less dream. Meanwhile her everyday life continues on in much the same pattern until one very hot day during the summer monsoons.
      Act III
      Alyssa waves goodbye to Owl, climbing into his truck to drive to Santa Fe to buy some paints. As she re-enters the casita, she meets Heart on her way out for an herb walk along the barranca. Heart assures her that she’ll be back in about an hour, and since they’ve already had breakfast, Alyssa grabs a book to read in the hammock strung between two pinons outside the casita. After awhile, though, she senses something’s not quite right. It’s been more than an hour and Heart has not returned. Alyssa can tell there’s about to be a rainstorm and sure enough, the wind begins to rise, clouds boil above, and the sound of thunder is heard in the distance. Increasingly alarmed, she decides to go look for Heart. She shoves her bare feet into a pair of sneakers and grabs a slicker from behind the kitchen door, but just as she leaves the casita the storm breaks. The wind howls, thunder crashes, and lightning tears through the clouds as she struggles to climb the hill behind the house. But it’s hard going, and she begs the trees, the River Goddess, the very rocks themselves to help her find Heart. Finally in her head, she hears the Goddess telling her to search near a place that looks like “a grandmother’s skin”—a treeless drop-off from the highest point of the barranca.
      She finally makes it to the top of the barranca and sure enough, as she searches desperately for clues, she sees a series of gouges, like those made by someone clutching for purchase in the wet clay, and notices that a large boulder has dislodged itself and tumbled down into the arroyo. Leaning over the edge, she sees Heart, crumpled and apparently unconscious, lying near the fallen boulder in the arroyo—and she hears the roar of angry flood waters coming closer. If she can’t get Heart out of the arroyo, she’ll drown! She stumbles and claws her way down to Heart and tries to lift her, but her mother is too heavy for her and can’t respond or help in any way.
      Frantic, Alyssa begs the Goddess to help her move Heart. The Goddess tells her, “Put your arms around Heart and when I say NOW! leap up to that ledge above you.” Although they have spent many months practicing projection, Alyssa doubts she can do any such thing, but she’s determined to try. The moment comes, and with the word “NOW!” she hurls herself and Heart onto the ledge just as the waters rush past below them. Alyssa lands on the ledge with her mother on top of her. As she lands, she experiences excruciating pain in her shoulder and arm, but before she passes out she realizes that Heart is safe.
      Fade to:
      Alyssa is just regaining consciousness, and is foggily aware that Owl is there on the ledge, holding her and talking softly to her, while the rescue team has arrived and begins to lower a basket gurney for her mother. As they lift Heart off the ledge, a med tech scrambles down, gives Alyssa a shot for pain, and tells her she has a broken arm but not to worry-- it will be easy to set. He adds that her mother is OK, thanks to her, and is being taken to the hospital in Santa Fe for overnight observation.
      Cut to:
      The next morning Alyssa awakens to the horrible feeling that the Goddess is gone. She rushes out to look but the Goddess no longer hangs in the window of the casita, and Alyssa bursts into tears, insisting that it was not herself but the Goddess who saved Heart, and that she sacrificed herself in the process. But Owl comforts her, reassures her that she was indeed the one who saved her mother, and explains that the Goddess isn’t really gone—she’s become part of Alyssa herself. There is a long moment while Alyssa allows this to sink in, and as she begins to realize the truth of what Owl is telling her, they hear a little tinkling laugh off in the distance, and she knows the Goddess is still, and always, with her.
      THE END