Saturday, November 7, 2009

Story Time

Episode 1006

“What are you thinking about, Paran?”

“Not much. Just the village, and how everybody probably reacted to our running off like we did.”

“Are you sad you left?”

“No. Not really. I mean, I miss my family, and Old Conway, the butcher. He was funny. But as much as I miss some I am glad to be free of Kerr.”

Elon shuddered. “I should say so. He’s such a brute.”

“Not your type, huh? Well, I shouldn’t worry. I expect your father would find someone much more suitable for you than Kerr. Now, let’s see, who would be good for you? How about Clement? He’s a nice, gentle sort. He would make you a fine husband, don’t you think?”

“I don’t want Clement!” Elon hated it when Paran teased her about husband possibilities. For one thing, she never suggested the one person Elon would be thrilled to have. But then, nobody ever did. And Elon didn’t dare tell anyone. So she knew that one day, like Paran, she would have been faced with the decision to either marry someone she didn’t want, or flee to freedom. It was better to leave now with Paran than to wait and have to escape on her own. Paran was right: she wasn’t that great in the woods. But she knew she could be great in the house. The implications of that thought made her smile.

“I don’t think you know who you want,” said Paran. “But no matter. It wasn’t a decision likely to be made any time soon. Or at all, if I don’t find a way to get you home.”

“Home! I’m staying with you.”

“For now, yes. But what about later? I don’t think your father is going to quit looking for you until he finds you.”

Elon smiled. “Or Aricin, until he finds his pony.”

She was glad that Paran laughed. Laughter was the best way to get Paran away from troublesome talk. She knew Paran was probably right about her father and brother, but she would deal with them when the time came. For now, they didn’t know where she was. She was safe. She was with Paran.

Paran sat up.

“I’m thinking maybe we should get some sleep. It was a difficult walk today and I’m sure you’re as tired as I am. Do you want the bed? Or should I take it?”

Elon glanced at the bed, beckoning to them from the shadows.

“I shouldn’t think the bed would be a good idea tonight. Let’s wait until daylight and see what kinds of things have made a home in it.”

“Hmm. Good thinking.”

“Told you that you needed me along.”

“So you did. Then I guess we sleep by the hearth, if that’s all right with you?”

She lay back down, head near Elon’s. Elon sighed wistfully. It didn’t have to be like this, did it? Never certain on how Paran would respond, she was hesitant in her offer.

“You can lay beside me – if you want.”

Paran rolled over onto her stomach. Her eyes were searching, though for what Elon wasn’t certain. That’s the way Paran was. You could know everything about her and still not know what she was thinking.

“You nervous about the place? And why they left?”

It was as good an excuse as any.

“A little.”

Chuckling, Paran got up with her blanket. She made Elon scoot to the side on hers and lay facing Elon’s back. She pulled her own blanket over them, draping her arm over Elon’s side.

Elon smiled contentedly. This was how they had slept the past three nights. Paran said it would keep them warm in the night. It did give a warm feeling, thought Elon. Inside and out. She took Paran’s hand and clutched it close to her heart.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Story Time

Episode 1005

Paran stared into the flames. “I’m not sure. The original plan was to travel all the way to Littoral Haven. But our detour makes that more difficult.”

“Why did we detour?”

A shrug. “Just a whim. I just had this feeling it was time to get off the ridge.”

The quiet was inviting. Elon mustered up her courage.

“What about staying here?”

Paran’s head turned. “Stay here? Elon, we don’t even know there’s water. And what will we eat?”

“There has to be water, Paran. Who would stake out a farm without water? That field certainly has tasted the plow. As for food, we have some things left that we brought. And there are plenty of wild things in the trees. And you have you bow. Can’t we at least try? This seems such a nice place.”

Paran turned back to the fire.

“It isn’t that I’m against staying. We just have to be sure we can survive here. You’re right about the water. There must be some nearby. And if we have to eat squirrel and rabbit and mountain herbs for a while that should be fine. But I think before we decide anything for certain we should have a look around come daylight. We just might discover why the previous tenants left. Sound good?”

“Sounds good.”

Elon smiled. That was another thing about Paran. She didn’t like jumping into things. She weighed out the risks carefully. But putting aside anything horrible, it was likely she would relent about the farm. Paran didn’t let pride interfere with her judgment. Not usually.

So what had it been when she had agreed to let Elon accompany her on this escape? Surely she must have thought it out. Of course, at first, she had argued against it, as she had in taking the pony.

“Don’t talk crazy, Elon. You’re not coming, and that’s final.”

“But why?”

“For one thing it only guarantees someone is going to come after us. Your father will lead half the village on a recovery mission. For another, you’ll just slow me down.”

“No, I won’t.”

“You will. You know you’re not nearly so good in the forest as me.”

“But you’ll need someone to take care of you. You weren’t even going to bring much for provision. At least I knew to bring Amos.”

“And that’s another thing. Do you think Aricin isn’t going to mind us taking his pony? And if you’ll slow me up just think what a pony will mean.”

“I’m just going to follow you, Paran. You know I will.”

Maybe it had been that final threat which made Paran finally concede. Or maybe she was feeling the pressure of time. Elon only dared hope in the quietest place in her heart what could have been why.

For three days now they had walked the ridge. The fear of pursuit was always there, but Elon was happy. She was with Paran. What did the future matter as long as that was so?

She glanced at Paran, still staring into the flames. What did she see when she was seeing beyond what was here? Even to Elon, who considered herself to be Paran’s best friend in the world, Paran seldom revealed her secret dreams. But Elon knew a lot went on in that head. If only she could reach it.