Sunday, 23 November 2014

You can’t expect me to just abandon him

In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
AN: this one got lost in my writing folder and never got posted.
The others made ready to leave. They all avoided looking at the prone figure on the bed. He was almost hidden away in the corner. Out of sight and so on.
The female of the group dithered. She kept glancing at the bed, opening and closing her mouth as if to say something and then thinking better of it.
The clear leader ushered the others towards the door.
She balked, stopped and then with a fierce determination, she put her backpack down.
“What?” the leader asked her.
“You can’t expect me to just abandon him!”
“He’s dying.”
“All the more reason to stay with him.”
“Why? If he’s dying.” He waved a hand at the unconscious man. “He wouldn’t even know you were here.”
She set her jaw. “Nevertheless, I am staying.”
He looked disappointed for a beat and then he shrugged. “It’s your choice, but you will just be burying him.”
“If I have to; I’ll do that, too.”
“Don’t break a nail,” one man muttered.
“He saved my life.”
“Yeah. Idiot,” muttered another.
The leader cuffed him.
“Go!” he ordered them.
He gave the woman a final look.
She just shook her head.
He slammed the door after him.
He didn’t die.
But he might have, if she hadn’t been with him.
She spent days sitting with him, changing the wound dressing on his body until she no longer had any clean cloths left. She boiled water for laundry, sponged him down to reduce his fever and dripped drinking water down his throat when she could. The bruises on his throat looked really bad.
There was only one bed in the cabin so she slept sitting up in the chair.
Day three his eyes cleared. He could look around and he seemed to recognise her, but couldn’t speak.
Day four he clutched her arm. It took her some time to understand that he wanted to piss. They managed it with minimal embarrassment.
He took in more water after that but it took some effort. It became obvious that the throat damage was going to have long term consequences. He could swallow some broth but it pained him to do it.
The other wounds healed over time. She had to hunt soon, they were running out of supplies.
Because he could no longer speak, he used his eyes. He watched her constantly. She would look up to see him staring at her. Once he could move his hands, he spoke with those, too. Gestured and waved and banged on things to get her attention.
She gravitated between chatting inanely and saying nothing at all, like him.
The next day she announced she was going scavenging.
He glared at her and frowned.
“I’ll be fine.”
He waved at his leg.
“I know. It’ll be days before you’ll be up.”
A hand signal. Stop or wait?
She guessed wait. “I have to go now.” She picked up her bag and bow. “I’ll be back soon.”
He held his hand out to her.
And waved impatiently when she didn’t take it.
She grabbed his hand in hers. He squeezed.
She wasn’t sure what that meant, but she squeezed back.
Maybe she was rushing things because she was worried about him, maybe she wasn’t careful enough because she hadn’t hunted alone in years, but in any case, after she’d snared one small rabbit she came across two men. A woman, alone meant only one thing to them. Sport.
She couldn’t fight two.
She ran.
They hooted and catcalled and ran after her.
She headed for the cabin, thinking she could barricade it and they’d give it up as too hard.
As she came pelting towards it, he appeared in the doorway. He must have heard them coming still shouting at her. She ducked behind him and loaded her bow.
The men stopped.
“She yours?” one called out.
He nodded.
They just stood there, eyeing each other off. He reached over and pulled her knife out of the back of her belt. He tossed it in one hand. She could see beads of sweat on his neck, from the effort of standing. She prayed that the men didn’t notice. She prayed he didn’t drop the knife.
The standoff, such as it was, ended when they decided that even numbers was not their game.
They made a few empty threats, that he didn’t respond to and then they left; bravado intact.
She caught him before he hit the floor and dragged him back to the cot. She latched the door, pulling the cord handle through so it couldn’t be opened from the outside.
He had torn the leg wound open.
She groused at him as she repaired the damage and bound it up again.
Then she dressed and prepared the rabbit, and stewed it in a pot with a handful of root vegetables she had dug up. He was awake by then. She fed him the stew even though he probably could have fed himself and he let her do it, staring at her with serious eyes.
When she went to settle in the chair he waved at her.
She approached him and he tugged at her arm.
She got the message. She lay down next to him and he put his arm around her. It was good to stretch out and lie down for a change. It was also warmer with him.
“Thank you,” she said just before she fell asleep.
A tentative hug was her answer.
She guessed that meant ‘you’re welcome’.
© AM Gray 2013

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