Friday, November 5, 2021

The Wandering (Part 13)

I will not make many words of our times in the caves. 

It was a long, weary season. 

I cared for Ignose, as she was unable to care for herself or Roan. She neither ate not moved, for weeks and weeks. Only she lay, wrapped in furs, her lips parted, tonelessly mouthing Ryia. Sometimes her eyes wept, but mostly they were dry. 

She whispered for her daughter during the day, she moaned for her doing the night, and she screamed for her in the wee hours of the morning, until even I grew sick of the name. 

She did not go out to the Coupling, she did not tell me stories. Sometimes I would wonder if she still breathed, as I lay beside her in the caves. I was afraid to go to the sauna or out to hunt, afraid if I came back she would have died and Roan burnt in the fire due to neglect. 

We did not visit with the other blighted ones, Ignose scared even them when they would come by.

Though, some took pity on me and would leave dried meats or berries or broths at my fire, when I would get back from walking Roan or foraging. 

The long hours, as the red moon cast a pink shadow over all; I spent my time either caring for Ignose, caring for Roan, foraging for food, and hiding us from Ogna and our tribe, least they kill Ignose. 

A blighted maiden who lay comatose in the dark was good for nothing. Especially when they had a spare.

We both grew thin. I simply couldn't gather enough, and Roan, who was growing rapidly, needed more than I could give. And what-odd things others brought did nothing to fill the gaps in our diet. Mostly they made me hungrier, reminding me what real food was when I finally had enough to fill my belly for one meal.

I was hungry, and when I wasn't thinking about hunger, I was thinking about water and wishing to bathe myself. And when I wasn't thinking about that; I was talking to Ignose. Screaming at Ignose. Kicking her, even.

She never moved. 

I had started to wonder how I was going to get her home. Spring was coming, I knew from my notches on the wall. What was I to do? She had to get up. I stared at her across the darkness, lit by our fire, from logs I stole from the tribe at night; and suddenly she stirred. She rolled over. She got up. I was holding Roan who was fussing and she walked over, took him from me, and sat down before the fire. 

Was I dreaming? 

No, she was up. She was up and it would all be okay. 

"I'm okay now." She said, while I blinked at her. And she was, at least from the outside. She bathed herself in the sauna and helped feed us, and a few short days later we left for the shores, and another planting season with the tribe. 

But in a short time we were back, resting our feet before our fire in the caves, the furs spread around us and Roan a chubby toddling boy, no longer a mewling baby. 

And that is where I am now. In the same cave where we sat, writing on the leathers, old and wrinkled, writing our story before I die, in the hopes that someone, somewhere, will come along and read it. Ignose, maybe she will read it, and know of me and that I never blamed her. I never once blamed her.

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