She sits down and peers at me over the edge of the coffee cup. Like she’s been here the whole time.
Not really sure how she thinks this is ok. But she knows. She knows I’ll forgive her. Eventually.
“I’ve been to the City,” she repeats.
I try to not care. But she knows I do.
I try to glare at her. I scrunch my eyebrows together and drop my chin.
She’s not buying it.
She just waits. She takes a sip of the coffee, makes a little face.
“You don’t remember the coffee from before, do you?”
“Um. Not really, no. What does that have to do with anything?” I’m about to explode.
“Everything.” She looks back down into her cup and swirls the coffee around. She watches like it’s the most fascinating thing ever. Like it’s Olivier performing Shakespeare. Callas singing M. Butterfly. I don’t remember any of those things, so that simile is pretty stupid, right? Just something people say to make people think they remember.
She sets the cup down on the dirt floor next to her and stands. She examines everything in my small shelter. I don’t have much. I don’t need much.
She shivers. I sometimes forget how cold she gets, and I find a clean shirt to drape over her shoulders. As I pull my arm away, she leans her head on my shoulder. She feels soft. Vulnerable. Maybe even a little scared. Definitely tired. I wrap my arm back around her shoulders and feel her start to let go. She reaches around my waist, and I get my other arm around her and just hold her as she sobs.
I’m not sure where this came from. She looked so sure of herself. She was back from an adventure. She had information that she knew I wanted. She had the power. And here she is.
But she feels nice wrapped in my arms. Can’t say this happens all too often. We are not an affectionate bunch. We pretty much try to stay out of each other’s way. We help each other when we need to, we listen to the Storytellers, we gamble together. But on an ordinary day, most of us keep to ourselves. So I don’t spend too much time holding other people. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I ever did, yet she feels so familiar. So comfortable. Like she belongs in my arms.
Just not sobbing.
She’s not showing any signs of stopping, so I inch us over to the corner and sit down. She curls up in my lap, and I hold her and wait. I stroke her hair and I think how glad I am that I have most of my fingers right now. It’s painful when they are growing back, but at least I’m not leaving fleshy bits in between the strands of blonde, wet from the rain.
She shivers again, that shaking feels different from the heavy heaving of her sobs. I pull her close. I don’t offer a lot of warmth, but it seems to help, so that makes me keep doing it. Plus, despite the rain and the dirt, she smells familiar. I can’t name it. But it’s something I know. Something good. I smile a little at the scent, but her tears are soaking through my shirt, and showing no signs of stopping.
I hold her and rock her gently until the clouds break up and the sun shines high over us again.
Why did she come back? Leave a comment…