We rest in wide open fields. The atmosphere is getting tired, starting to dress in its' night sky. The wind blows and chills us.
She lies on the ground. Her screams color me worried. I lift Indie's grey tank top, which has been torn earlier to bandage my hands, enough to see what is causing her so much pain. But all I see is the muscles of her stomach twitching. My eyebrows furrow. Why would this hurt her so much?
"What is it?" Indie asks with her hoarse voice.
"Your muscles are just twitching."
"Maybe it is a muscle spasm. A very-" A loud yell escapes from her.
Lowering her shirt, I hold her close to me. "Yes, I guess muscle spasms are a symptom of Tetanus." I look at her belly, wondering if a muscle spasm is all that is just occurring beneath her skin.
Indie's tears stain my grey T-shirt, and they bullet through my heart. I deeply wish to heal her pain, even if I have to place it inside me. But I can do nothing except hold her until her screaming eventually dies.
Dawn decorates the sky the next day. I sit and look at the map, eating an apple, as Indie is sleeping beside me. I try to figure out which Region we are in. All of The Resistance's camps are discreetly scattered in Xanera, so it is hard to tell which one Indie and I escaped from. Wait, the night we fled, we took haven in a forest. There's a forest on the east side of the Thirza River on the Regions Fulvia, Enida, and Fanchon.
…Fanchon, my home. It feels like a thousand lifetimes since I was forced out of my home, since I lost my family. Sometimes, my mother's screams echo and unsettle my dreams. My sister's frighten face after I told her to run away. The Resistance didn't want her anyways, just me. I was just afraid she would die like our parents. I didn't want to lose my entire family in one night. And my father…My…father…
The map falls from my hand. The three-fourths bitten apple slips from my other one and drops to the ground. I try to bury the memory in the cemetery of my unwanted reminiscences. There must be a necromancer nearby, for the memory keeps rises from its grave.
Indie stirs. She rubs her eye as she sits up. Then, after she looks at me, her eyebrows furrow. A question hangs on her face.
"Is something wrong?" she asks.
Shaking my head, I answer, "No. Why?"
"You're crying, Liam."
"I am?" I wipe my cheek with a couple of fingers. Then I look. Two wet dots glistens my fingers. "Huh, I am."
"What's wrong?" she asks once more.
"Nothing, I was just thinking about my family."
She brushes my arm. "Still not going to tell me how you lost them?"
I pick her up and lay her on my lap. Her legs are placed at the left side from me. I hold her tight, afraid she might float away like smoke. Afraid she might be torn away like my family
"No," I reply, "not today."
I wipe the tears away, feeling foolish. Humiliation stains my face. How can something so small be so demeaning? Indie needs me to be strong. But how can I if I show any weakness?
She places her head on my shoulder. Her finger traces my collarbone. Her touch scares away some of my sorrow. "Then I'll keep waiting," she says after a sigh.
I silently thank her for her patience. I want to let her in, but my tender heart needs to be healed before I can open that wound. I know if I don't tell her, she will leave me. That is my biggest fear.
Then for some reason Indie chuckles. When I ask what's funny, she answers with another question, "When was the last time you shaved?"
I shrug. "A couple of days before we escaped. Why?"
Her fingertips brush my jawline. "You're starting to grow some facial hair."
I smile as I rub my face. "You like it?"
"Usually, no. On you, though, I kinda do. But I don't like the full on beard. Just this part." She cups her hands on either sides of my mouth.
"Yeah, that's it. I like that on you."
I laugh quietly as I take her face and taste her. Our kiss is soft and sweet. She clutches my hair. Placing my hands at the nape of her neck, I pull her closer. It makes me feel like I'm flying. I land on a cloud made of lullabies and dream of my Indie. The feeling subsides too soon as she pulls away. I lean in closer to close the distance, wanting to feel the high again when I get off of her taste. She places her fingertip on my lips.
"No," says she, "I'm gonna make you wait."
I grin. "You're going to kill me with your teasing."
She shrugs a shoulder. "At least you'll die happy."
I laugh. "That I will my beloved." I take an apple and give it to her. "Here, eat this. It's gonna be a long day."
She takes it and bites it. I obtain the map, holding high enough for both of us to see.
"What are you trying to do?" she asks.
"I'm trying to figure out which Region we're in." I point on the map. "We were in a forest the other day, so I'm thinking we might be in these three Regions."
"Well," says she, "we can't be in Enida because that is where we're heading. So that leaves Fulvia and Fanchon." She looks at me. "You're from Fanchon, right?"
"Would you wanna go back? I mean, I know we can't go right away because of my infection. But do you want to go back to see your home?"
I look at her. "Because you are my home."
I catch a glance of her wide smile as I kiss her forehead. Her exultation actives my empathy. My eyes return to the map then I point at it.
"I think we might we in Fulvia, but it's just a guess. I wish I could know for sure, so I won't lead us somewhere far from Enida."
Indie looks at me. "Thank you."
I blink. "For what?"
"You've always taken care of me, and I never thanked you. I'm grateful for everything you do for me. I wish I could contribute."
"You have by getting those apples." I smile. "And, you don't have to thank me, but I appreciate it."
She throws away her finished apple. "I hate stealing. Guilt is filling me to the brim. Stealing, breaking the law, it's just…" –she shakes her head- "it just isn't me."
I tuck her black hair behind her ear. "I understand. I like your integrity. I hope you never lose it." Patting her back, I add, "Hop off; I have to teach you something."
Indie chuckles. "Okay." When she stands, she asks, "You're gonna teach me something, huh? What is it?"
I stand, folding the map then tucking it in my pocket. "I've been thinking about this for a while. Now I think is a good time to help you with your combat skills." She sulks. I continue. "Indie, listen. There may come a time when something happens, and I might not be there to defend you. You need to learn how to fight." I stroke her hair. "This is just a precaution. I need to know you can take care of yourself when I'm not available.
"I've lost so much…" I add. Then I turn away, not wanting her to see the emotion that's starting to paint my face. Don't show any weakness, Liam. "I can't lose you too. My world has shattered once before. I can't go through that pain again."
I feel her arms embracing me. Her fingers interweave in front of my stomach. "Okay, I will. If it makes you feel better, I'll do it."
I turn and hug her back. My chin digs at the top of Indie's head. "Thank you. Now I can have a little relief."