This is actually a 'text-story' my boyfriend and i wrote, and i formalized for a writing class.
I wake in the soft pre-dawn light, very much alone. Huh. Maybe he finally left. I hope he finds his way to wherever he’s going. I get up, rub the sleep from my eyes, and start to break camp, leaving no trace I was ever here. I start another fire, and gather some berries nearby for a light breakfast. As I mash them into a paste with some dried leaves I found, he walks into the clearing, his hands held awkwardly behind his back. Damn. “Good morning,” he says brightly. Most of his wounds seem to be healing well enough. That’s good, I guess. “Morning.” I make little cake-like things and place them in the fire to cook. “I have something for you,” he says happily, still standing. “Oh?” I reply, tending to the cakes. I glance up as he pulls Scott from behind his back. “I found him last night.” “Scott!” I practically yell, leaping up and holding my arm out for him to perch on. He comes to me like a trained bird, nuzzling his head against my cheek like a cat. “Are you ok? You scared the s**t out of me.” I coo, petting him. He flinches as I graze on of his wings. I move him away, looking it over. “It looks like he broke his wing. See how he’s holding it funny? I need some short sticks and cloth.” I sit and try to reposition the offending wing. “Can you find me some?” “Sure.” He starts to search for something suitable. “Where did you find him?” I ask, trying to find the right spot. Scott clicks his beak impatiently. “I found him near a tree as I was walking.” He hands me two small sticks and a bit of his shirt. “Were there signs of a struggle?” I ask, carefully setting the wing. He squats in front of me, watching intently. “I couldn’t tell. It kind of seemed like it.” “Sounds like he was attacked,” I say, nonchalant. He gets closer to me. “By what? Can you tell?” I shrug. “He was on the ground in plain sight. His wing is broken and there might be signs of a struggle. I’ll bet anything he was attacked by crows and fell.” I continue to tend to Scott. “Is there anything else I can do?” he asks. “Make sure breakfast doesn’t burn.” I set Scott on the stump in the center of the clearing and go to gather the berries I left on the bush. “It seems like it’s done.” I walk over to the fire. “Let me see.” He moves out of my way obediently. “Yea it’s done.” I turn and walk back to Scott, feeding him the berries. “Come on, Scott,” I plead, “It’s all we have right now.” The bird looks shrewdly at the berry held in my hand, then takes it and swallows it, an almost disgusted look on his face. “There’s a good boy,” I smile, cooing softly. I take my breakfast in my other hand and start to eat, occasionally giving Scott some of that too. When we both finish, I look up at the sky. The sun is well on its way across the broad expanse. “We need to start moving,” I stand, dusting myself off. “You still need help.” I move to extinguish the fire. “But I feel fine,” he looks up at me curiously. “Where are we going to go?” I toss some dirt on the fire. “Either to the ranch or to town. I need supplies anyway.” He shrugs. “Fair enough.” He stands. “Let me help you.” “No I’m almost done anyway.” I go to Scott and place him on my shoulder. “Let’s go.” I start to walk away. He follows me. “Don’t forget your staff,” I toss over my shoulder. “Oh right.” I stop and wait for him. Once he catches up, I turn and start to walk back towards the water. “Why are we going back?” “Cuz it’s the easiest way to find food. And it’s the fastest way back.” I start to stroke Scott and hum the tune again, happy and care-free. After a while, “You’re a very musical person,” he observes. I shrug and stop humming. “You’re not much of a talker, are you?” “I guess not. Like I said, it’s only been me and Scott for so long…” I sigh. “True,” he nods, a thoughtful expression on his other-wise dim face. I look to the water, calmer than I’ve been since I met this cretin. Suddenly I stop and sit down, smiling. He kneels next to me. “Is something on your mind?” “Oh, no,” I smile, absentmindedly stroking my scar on my right hip. “I just like watching the surf and the sand. It’s so soothing…” “I see,” he replies questioningly. Then, noticing my hand, “Is there something wrong with your hip?” “Oh, um, no…” I say, embarrassed. I stop brushing my scar and stand. “We should get going.” “Alright.” He says suspiciously, getting up and following me. We walk in silence for a while, when I get bored and start making shapes in the sand with my feet, twirling and kicking and generally walking funny. “Are you just entertaining yourself?” he laughs. “Well yea,” I spin so I’m facing him. He’s lagged a little bit behind. I slow my pace as he runs to catch up. He ends up falling right on his face. I try not to laugh as I move to help him back up. “You shouldn’t run like that. The increased blood pressure could cause you to bleed out. Not to mention you could get another concussion or something.” I kneel beside him to inspect his wound. “I was trying to catch up…” he whines, defending himself. “I’m sorry I was going so fast,” I sigh, “I’m not used to traveling with people. We need to change your bandages.” I move closer to him and start to unwrap his head. We sit in silence, the sounds of the surf and the tearing of my shirt the only things to hear. “Aren’t you getting cold from tearing up your shirt so much?” he asks. “No. I make bandages all the time. I go through shirts pretty fast,” I shrug. “Don’t you feel a little uncomfortable exposing yourself like that? Especially to a stranger like me?” he inquires. I shrug again, concentrating on not wrapping his head too tight. “Alright then,” he shrugs. “I just thought you wouldn’t want to do that near me. Especially since you ran away from me.” “Hm,” I reply, distracted. “Your head seems to be healing well. We should rest a while.” I sit next to him. Out of the corner of my eye I see him move to touch his head. He shivers. “It’s kind of cold.” “Yea… I don’t want to start another fire cuz we’re not staying long.” “So how should we stay warm while we rest?” he questions. Can’t this guy shut up? I take Scott off my shoulder where he was perched and place him in my lap. “Can I see him?” “I guess…” I say, guarded as I hand Scott over. “Be careful! Don’t move his wing!” “I’ll be careful,” he assures, whispering to the bird. “What are you doing?” I move closer, scared for Scott and curious. “Oh nothing. Just talking.” He strokes Scott. I move to take him, decide he’s not in any real danger, and lay down across the warm sand. “Do you want him back?” “Yea.” I can feel Scott’s feet land heavily on my stomach, and walk up my chest. “You’re such a pretty bird. A pretty pretty bird,” I coo softly. I hear the guy laugh at me. “What?” I ask menacingly. “Oh nothing,” he smiles, “It’s just amazing how much you love him.” I relax a little. “He’s all I have. He’s always been the only thing to me.” “Have you never tried to meet other people?” I look away. “People always leave,” I choke out, angry. “How come?” I stand up, moving Scott from my stomach to my shoulder. “We should keep going. Can you walk?” “Yes.” He stands as I start walking away again, following the coast. “Where are we headed?” “Town.” I start to sway to the surf, humming the same tune to the beat of the waves. “I wonder…” “What?” he asks, almost as if he was distracted. “Oh I was just…thinking…” “About what?” “Oh it’s nothing…” I say, embarrassed. “Are you sure?” he insists. “I was just thinking…about before…” I sigh, stopping. “What was ‘before’?” “When I was little, my parents…” I choke, tearing up. He moves closer to me. “Hey,” he puts his hand on my shoulder, comfortingly. “It’s ok. What did they do?” “My dad…” I shudder, “my dad was an alcoholic. He….he got into a drunken rage one night and….and killed my mom.” I collapse to the ground and surrender to the tears. He kneels next to me. “I’m sorry…I didn’t know…” he defends. I reach for Scott and stroke his head. “It’s just been me and Scott ever since,” I cry. “That must’ve been hard for you,” he tries to console me. “Yea...” I sniff. “That’s when I took Scott and ran. I can never go back there.” “Are you afraid of going back?” I stand and walk away. “It doesn’t matter. We still have a long way to go.” We walk in silence, listening to the sounds of the ocean and the occasional squawk from Scott as some creature gets too close for his liking. “You think there’s a reason this happened?” he asks, distracted. “Why what happened?” I ask back, confused. “Do you think there’s a reason why we ran into each other and why all of these things happened?” he implores. “Why?” “I don’t know. What are the odds of this happening to someone else?” he explains. “It’s a little strange that our paths crossed.” “No…?” Why is he talking about this? “Alright,” he rushes, “I was just asking to see if you thought the same thing. “I don’t like the thought of something controlling my life,” I respond pointedly. “That sounds fair enough,” he shrugs. We walk some more in silence. There’s an odd, almost rhythmic thunder coming from behind us, barely audible. I stop, listening hard. “Why did you stop?” he asks loudly. “SH!” I listen harder. Oh no, not now! I turn towards the hillock on our right. “Run!” “What?” he asks, jogging behind me. “Just run! Don’t stop ‘till you get to the other side of the hill.” I can definitely hear the pounding of thousands of horse hooves now. Scott squawks in protest, digging his fierce talons into my soft shoulder. I throw myself over the crest of the hill, dislodging Scott from his perch. I scramble to him. “Hurry! They’re almost here!” “Who’s they?” He’s just now cresting the hill. I pull him down by his leg, causing him to slip and fall past me. I crawl up and peer over the hill, watching thousands of horses pass, all fitted with either a person or supplies, moving as a single body. The guy brushes his shoulder against my arm, trying to get a better view. “Who are they?” “You don’t wanna know,” I whisper, “Just stay down.” He obeys, gasping. One of the horsemen pause, pulling away from the herd. He turns towards us and slowly guides his horse in our general direction. I look at him, concerned. “Are you ok?” I turn back to watch the horseman. I can vaguely recognize him. “S**t s**t s**t.” I try to pull back my hair and generally try to look more man-like. “No matter what happens, you stay down. Got me?” I stand up, confident he’ll obey me. “Alright,” he grasps his arm and puts his head down. “Wait what are you doing?” he asks, alarmed. “Just stay here.” I walk towards the lone horseman. When I’m within hearing distance, he says to me, “Long time no see, huh?” “It’s been a while, Liam,” I nod, smiling. “Do you have my stuff?” I ask. “Always straight to business with you,” he sighs, reaching into his saddlebags. “Where’s the fun in that?” he asks playfully. “You know exactly how much fun I am,” I wink, holding out my hand. He hands me a brown package. I heft it. “I trust this is all in payment for last winter?” “Yes this is everything we owe you,” he sighs. “I miss you.” He looks down into my eyes, pleading, reaching towards me. “I miss you too, Li.” I take his hand and grasp it firmly. Then I let go. “You know why I left,” I say sadly. “Yes,” he sighs again. “Can’t you come back to me?” “I think you should go. I’ll see you around.” I turn and walk back up the hill. I get back to where I left the injured guy when he asks, very confused, “What was all that about?” I sit down cross-legged beside him and start tearing open the package. “Those guys trade with me, but they don’t like strangers like you,” I shrug. “They owe me for last time. As long as you stay out of their way, we’re good.” “Last time?” he asks, still confused. “They needed furs for the winter, and I had like twelve wolf pelts lying around. They didn’t have anything I needed, so they owed me.” I finally get through all the animal skin on the outside and start inspecting the contents. “Where are they from? And how did you come across them?” “Oh, the same way I ran into you. One of the boys was wandering around. We went out for a while. Then I left. We keep in touch.” Everything I needed was in the package: jerky, rope, new shirts, and more. “Wow, that’s pretty cool…” he moves to sit closer and watches me. “How do you keep in touch?” I set the package aside and pull out my hunting knife, sharpening it on a whet stone. “We run into each other from time to time,” I shrug. “I see.” He watches me closer now, interested. Scott squawks as he pokes at the package, searching for something. He looks at Scott. “What’s in the package?” he asks. “Hm?” I look up. “Oh right.” I pick up the package and pull out some jerky, tossing some to Scott and handing some to the guy. “Here.” “Thanks.” He takes it and starts to eat. He leans back, resting on his hands. “So what’s next? Actually,” he corrects himself, “is there anything else I should know about?” “Well,” I sigh, chewing thoughtfully, “they usually head back inland after noon, so we should be ok after that.” “Alright then.” He fiddles with his bandage on his head. “Can I take these off? I’m fine I swear.” “Let me look at it,” I sigh, getting up. I inspect his head wound, then move down to his other injuries. “I guess your head has scabbed over, and if your arm doesn’t hurt anymore…” “I’ll be fine. It’s not like much else can happen.” “Alright,” I sigh, “hold still.” I carefully remove the bandages. “Thanks,” he replies when I finish, rubbing his head. “Should we get to town?” he asks. I shake my head no. “We have to wait ‘till they get farther away. They send patrols behind them every once in a while.” “So we just wait?” he asks skeptically. “And now we wait.” I pull on one of the new shirts. The soft fabric feels good against my skin. “So they give you clothes and food on occasion?” he asks. “Always,” I shrug, laying back. “It’s the rope and knives and such that take the skill and time I don’t have.” Scott hops on to my stomach, and I instinctively reach up to stroke him. “I don’t really have a reason to go to town now, I guess…” I reply thoughtfully. “So what do we do?” “We wait.” I start humming, stroking Scott. This is so weird; I haven’t felt like this in the longest time. “I’ll be right back.” I stand and start to walk away. “Is there anything you need me to do?” “Don’t let Scott try to fly. He’ll injure his wing.” I look back as he picks Scott up carefully. I walk to the top of the ridge and sit down, staring out over the distant water. Can this really be the same feeling as before? What is wrong with me? After a few minutes I walk back. “It looks like they’ve moved on. We can go now.” I start to pack up the extra jerky as he puts Scott on his shoulder. “Where are we headed?” “The same way we were headed. Back to town.” I reach for Scott and take him. We walk in silence, listening to the sounds of the surf. I smile as I stroke Scott. “You still feeling ok?” I ask the guy. “Hm? Oh yea I feel alright. Just some pains every now and then but otherwise I’m alright.” I nod, gently swaying to the surf. “Do you just do whatever you want out here?” he asks, watching me. “Mostly. I mean I hunt and fish and stuff, but that’s all I have to do,” I shrug, playing with the waves dancing by my feet. “Do you ever go swimming?” “All the time. I dive almost every day.” “Oh yea. I bet that’s fun.” He rubs his head, perhaps remembering when he dove. “It’s a rush.” I look behind me at the cliff and smile. “It feels like one. It’s unlike anything I’ve felt before.” “Yea,” I say as I reach down to take off my shoes. “Maybe I’ll show you how to dive right sometime.” I toss my shoes in my make-shift pack and walk in the surf, kicking water into the air. “Yea,” he says, a little embarrassed. “That’ll be fun.” I keep splashing, Scott squawking every so often when a drop hits him. I stop, reaching for him and gently pulling him onto my forearm to inspect his wing. “How is he?” “He’s healing ok. He’ll need to stay in the splint for a few more days though.” “That’s good.” He moves closer to me. “Yea…” I replace Scott on my shoulder and smile at both of them. He smiles back. Confused, I look away. He leans closer to me. “Is something wrong?” he asks. “Oh no. It’s just…” I say shyly. “Just what?” “I…I think Scott likes you,” I rush, embarrassed. “Is that bad?” he asks, confused. “No….” I caution. He steps closer to me. “Are you sure there isn’t anything else on your mind?” “Nope.” I spin through the surf away from him, covering up my minor mishap. He watches me, confused. I smile to myself, getting out of the water and squishing my toes in the sand. He stays in, then gets out after me. I smile and coo at Scott. He laughs. “What?” I laugh with him. “Nothing. It’s just a little funny to see you enjoying yourself,” he smiles. “Oh…” I walk normally again. “I didn’t mean to mock you, if that’s what you thought.” “Oh it’s ok,” I smile back, fingering my scar with one hand and petting Scott with the other. He leans closer. “If you don’t mind me asking, where did you get that scar?” I stop walking. “My dad got into one of his fits one night, and he threw a knife at me and my brother hiding in the bathroom. It got him right here,” I motion from my right shoulder down to the inside of my wrist, “and it got me here.” I turn my back to him and lift up my shirt, revealing a long, angry scar running from my right shoulder to my left hip. He stands, mouth gaping. “Were you ok?” he asks, appalled. “It got better,” I shrug, pulling my shirt back on. “I see… Since we’re sharing secrets…” I turn to face him. “What is it?” He lifts his shirt. An angry red scar runs from his right collar bone to below his ribs on the left side. I gasp, moving closer to touch it. I pull away and pet Scott instead. “What happened?” “The rich and popular group in my hometown owned the casinos and such. They didn’t like the military, so they beat me up to teach my dad a lesson.” “I’m so sorry,” I console, nuzzling Scott with my nose. “It’s alright.” He pulls his shirt down. “Yours looked pretty bad.” I shrug. “It’s fine now. Every once in a while I can’t stretch a certain way though.” He looks at me. “Does it hurt when you stretch it?” “Only when I stretch like this.” I bend back to touch the ground, wincing as I get farther and farther down. “I see…” he says, rubbing his chest. “Is it bothering you?” I ask, coming back up. “No. Sometimes it hurts. Only on occasion though. It’s fine.” “Ok.” I start to walk away, making funny shapes in the sand again. He picks up a stick and pokes holes in the sand as he walks. I giggle. “What?” he grins. “Oh nothing,” I smile, humming and petting Scott. He shrugs and keeps poking holes. I start to dance slowly, smiling. He takes a step closer to me, moving rhythmically to me. I spin away from him, eyes closed. Suddenly, jump into the water, practically squealing with delight. He laughs, watching. I turn, smiling and hand him Scott. “Take Scott for a second.” “Are you going somewhere?” he asks, taking Scott. I walk out a ways, turn to face the shore, and fall back into the water. “He doesn’t like getting wet.” “Gotcha.” I let the gentle current carry me away. “Don’t go too far out. Do you know what you’re doing?” he asks, distant and concerned. “Of course!” I yell back, annoyed. He should know I know what the hell I’m doing. I swim back anyway. “I was just checking,” he defends. He looks at Scott, and Scott shakes his head. I stand and look down and shake my head, smiling to myself. “What?” “Oh nothing.” I walk out and slide my fingertips across the surface of the water. I turn and watch him sitting in the sand, watching me. I raise my hands above my head, bend and dive into the water. I stay under until my lungs burn with oxygen depletion, then burst out into the sky, gasping for air. He cheers for me as I walk back to him, wringing water from my hair. I sit next to him and take Scott from his lap. “Did you have fun?” he smiles. “Always,” I laugh, laying back and closing my eyes. I sigh heavily. “Do you think about what would be different if you hadn’t done something?” I ask. I look over to him. “Sometimes,” he says sadly. “What do you wish you had done?” “Nothing I can think of off the top of my head,” he shrugs. “Why do you ask?” “Just wondering.” I scratch Scott’s wing joint gently. “How about you? Do you ever wonder what would be different if you hadn’t done something?” I sit in silence for a minute. “Yes…” I say slowly. “Like what?” he sits up straight, turning to look at my face. “Oh this and that,” I shrug, sitting up. “We should really keep going…” We both stand and start to walk away. He’s lagging behind. I turn to him. “Is something wrong?” I ask. “What? Why do you say that?” “You slowed down,” I reply bluntly. “Oh…I was just letting you get ahead a little to lead…” he says sheepishly. “Oh.” I stop and let him catch up, cooing gently and petting Scott. “Are we headed for town for supplies or a new area to make camp?” “You should go home,” I sigh, “You don’t belong out here.” “Well…” He looks down sadly. “I’m sorry. As long as you can’t defend yourself, you’re a liability,” I defend, ashamed. “I’ll be ok. I’ll get better with time…to be honest I don’t have a home to go to…” “Really? What happened?” I ask, interested. “My dad was in the military. He came home and found my mom with another man. So he left, started drinking a lot and eventually…” he sniffs. “Eventually he committed suicide. Then my mom started drinking and became very violent,” he chokes out between sobs. “So I ran away.” “Oh I’m so sorry,” I console, standing awkwardly, not really sure how to make him feel any better. He looks up at me, wiping his eyes. “It’s alright.” “You must have been close to your dad…” “Yea. He was the closest thing I had to a friend. We’d talk and he always promised to teach me things when he came home…” he says quietly, looking at his feet. I look out over the water, trying to figure out a way to make him feel better. “What about you?” he asks. “You must have been close to your mom.” I look down. “No. I wasn’t.” “Oh…” he says, embarrassed. “My brother was my only friend. Then he went to collage and never came back. He always promised to take me with him…” I sigh. “I’m really sorry. That must’ve been terrible for you.” He steps closer, hesitates, and moves away. “Three weeks later I went looking for him. When I found him he had started doing drugs and stuff. He wasn’t even going to class. I tried to help him…” “What happened?” he asks with concern and sympathy. “He…” I shudder, “he was on something, I don’t know what, and…” I cry, “He tried to rape me. Scott went for his eyes and I ran. I’ve been running ever since.” “What?” he asks, shocked. “That’s horrible!” Scott leans his head against mine and I instinctively reach up to touch him, nodding sadly. “I’m so sorry.” “People never keep their word,” I sniff. I look up, noticing how dark it’s gotten. “We need to find shelter before it really gets dark.” I start to walk again, and he follows. I smile sadly. “I think I see a cave over there…” I point and squint. “I think we should go then.” We walk in silence. I can’t believe I just told him everything. What’s wrong with me? I start to hum my tune again, cheering myself up a little. We get to the cave and I search around inside. “I think it’s free. Can you find some firewood?” I ask him, unpacking my bag again. He walks out and starts to search for wood. I pull out two blankets. Thank God Liam always give me too much of everything. The guy walks in again, his arms laden with wood. “Is this enough?” I look up. “Yea that’s fine.” I take it and start making fire. He watches me. The roaring of the flames is soothing. I shiver slightly. “That’s going to bother you.” He nods towards my wet shirt, taking off his own. “Here, put this on. You’ll be way more comfortable that way.” I look past the fire at his face, my eyes lingering on his scar and otherwise perfect chest. “Oh no I’m fine,” I say hastily, wringing out my shirt. “Are you sure?” “Yea. Mine’s almost dry anyway.” Although I’m sitting in a shallow pool of water...I slide out of the little lake. “Alright.” He puts his shirt back on. “Just let me know if you need anything.” “Why don’t you make some dinner?” I suggest, picking up Scott and holding him close. “Alright.” He gets up, then stops. “Umm, what do I use for food?” “Just boil some jerky or something,” I say, distracted by Scott. “Oh right.” He takes the jerky out of my bag and starts to cook it. I sit, monitoring him and playing with Scott. “Here, I think it’s done.” He hands me a piece. “Thanks.” I feed Scott first. I look up to take some more and see him staring at me. “What?” “What? Oh sorry.” He looks away from me, embarrassed. “Oh…ok…” I say, confused. I start to eat again, examining Scott’s broken wing. “Is he getting better?” he asks between mouthfuls of food. “I think I can take it off…” I carefully remove the splint and check to make sure the wing has really healed. “It must’ve just been sprained.” “Well that’s good,” he says. “Will he be able to fly soon?” “Let’s see.” I stand and walk out of the cave, taking Scott with me. I put Scott on my left arm and hold it away from my body. Scott spreads his wings and takes off. I walk back inside, smiling. “He’ll come back after he stretches his wings and hunts a bit,” I smile. He smiles back. “How long do you think he’ll be gone?” “I don’t know. As long as he doesn’t get hurt he should be back by morning at the latest.” I sit, picking up my jerky and eating some more. “I see.” He looks outside. I lean back against the cold rock beneath me. “Are you tired?” he asks, concerned. I look at him. “Just stretching,” I yawn and smile. He smiles back, laying next to me. I roll over to face the wall, giggling softly. “What?” “Oh nothing,” I laugh. “Tell me.” He tries to be serious, but I can tell he’s trying his hardest not to laugh. I sit up and look outside at the sunset. “Look. Isn’t it beautiful?” I sigh, smiling. He sits up. “Yea…it is,” he sighs, laying back down. I sigh again, watching him mess with his shoe. “What are you doing?” “I feel something and I think I know what they are. How could I have forgotten about these?” he responds, almost angry with himself. I sit up, interested. “Forgotten about what?” He pulls out a used combat knife from his pocket and dog tags from his shoe. “My dad gave me these the day he came home,” he says softly. “Can I see it?” I motion towards the knife, moving closer. He hands it to me. I balance it on my forefinger, testing the balance and otherwise inspecting the blade. “It’s a little hilt-heavy. Well-made, well-loved.” I do an intricate maneuver with it, tossing the knife high into the air sending it spinning gracefully. I pluck it from the air before it hits the ground and hand it back. “That was pretty cool. Where did you learn to handle knives like that?” he asks, pocketing the knife. “My brother was enrolled in the Marine JROTC program at school. They taught him during class and he taught me after school. We needed to defend ourselves…” I state, looking down sadly. “From what?” he asks, concerned and confused. “From dad,” I say quietly. “From dad’s friends. From my brother.” I look away from him, remembering. “Oh…” “Yea…” I swallow hard, watching the fire. Thunder booms outside. “Scott should be back soon. He can’t stand rain.” He gets up and looks outside. “I think I can see some clouds in the distance…” “Yep,” I smile. He looks at me. “Why are you smiling?” “I like the rain,” I shrug. “It washes away all the bad s**t.” “Bad s**t?” “It’s like giving the world a bath,” I laugh. “I see… You have an interesting way of seeing things.” I shrug. He sits, putting on the dog tags still held in his hand. He looks down at them, then at me. “They look good on you,” I say, slowly and quietly. “Thanks,” he smiles lightly. I look outside, and he follows my gaze. “Do you think he’ll be back soon?” “He can’t fly well during storms,” I nod over the sound of another thunderclap. “You think we should prepare for the weather?” he asks, worried. I look around the cave, confused. “Is something wrong?” I shake my head. “I think we’re good,” I smile. Scott bursts into the cave, his feathers all puffed out because of the rain now coming down in sheets. “Hey there,” I coo, petting Scott. The guy chuckles. “What?” “He just looks funny,” he laughs. “Maybe he thinks you look funny,” I counter. “He probably does.” I smile, laughing. “At least he doesn’t hate my guts. I think,” he laughs. “It’s weird. He usually doesn’t like strangers…” I observe, wiping Scott off. “Huh. Why do you think he doesn’t hate me?” “No clue,” I shrug. “That’s a little strange…” I nod, inspecting Scott’s previously injured wing. “How does it look?” I lay down and Scott jumps onto my stomach. “He’s fine,” I smile. “That’s good…” We sit in silence for a while, he watching me, me absentmindedly playing with Scott. I look over to him. “What?” He looks at me. “What? Oh nothing…” I shrug and start to hum again, slowly and softly, like a lullaby. He takes a blanket and lays back, closing his eyes. I keep humming. I wonder if he’s asleep. I sit back up, setting Scott on the edge of my blanket so his talons wouldn’t click on the bedrock. He didn’t move. Must be asleep. Good. I get up and, quietly, repack half of the stuff Liam gave me. I pick my bundle up, holding out my arm for Scott. He flutters over obediently, walking up my arm to perch on my shoulder. I start to walk out of the cave. I can’t just leave this yahoo to fend for himself. Ugh I hate having a conscience. I turn and arrange the dying embers of the fire into an arrow, pointing towards town. Hopefully he gets the message. Satisfied, I stand and walk away. Ugh I’m so tired. I try to walk as far away from the cave as I can before I almost collapse from exhaustion. I find a dry-ish spot out of the rain and pass out.