Day 18 – Chapter 11 – 02

            Thom folded the letter back up again, into thirds and then in half once, in half again, and tucked it back into his pocket.  It was becoming a familiar ritual; he’d read his cousin’s letter seven times over the past three days.  It still didn’t make sense to him, still made him ache.
            Was she right?  Were all of them right?
            She wrote the letter on the fifteenth.  She never called.  Why didn’t she call?  He squeezed his eyes shut, hunching a little and ignoring his complaining ribs.  The September morning was chilly as he perched on a broken slab of concrete near the newly-dug well.  A mist clung damply to the ruins and the grass, though it was slowly dissipating with a slight breeze.  His fingers were already cold, but he wasn’t ready to go back to the fire yet.  He rubbed at his eyes, stubborn tears refusing to stop welling up against his lower lashes.  He didn’t want any of them to see him crying.
            “Hey Thom.  Everything okay?”
            He blinked, looking up slowly at the sound of Leah’s voice.  She was standing a few feet away, carrying a tackle box, bucket, and fishing pole, head cocked to one side as she looked at him with a concerned smile on her face.
            “Are your ribs bothering you?”  She asked, setting down the tackle box and bucket.
            “No,” he said, shaking off his initial surprise.  “No, they’re okay.  Where’re you going?”
            She looked at him like it was the stupidest question he could have asked, and if he were to admit it to himself, he knew that it was.
            Damn.  Where the hell did I think she was going with all of that?  But by herself?
            “I’m going down to the river to do some fishing.  I know that there’s a few people that won’t risk eating any of it, but we can’t keep being afraid of the river forever, right?  Even if I don’t catch anything, I can bring some sand up when I come back.”
            Thom didn’t bother to ask about the sand, shaking his head a little.  “You’re going down there alone?”
            Leah grinned.  “What, are you going to tell me that you’re going to come down with me as an escort, with your ankle and all?  I’ll be fine.  A couple of the guys already went, I’m just going to join them.”
            I don’t remember seeing…bah.  They probably said hello and I didn’t even hear them, or they went down before I came out here.  Either explanation was equally likely.  Thom shrugged a little.  “You sure you’ll be okay climbing down by yourself?”
            “You bet.”  Leah grinned, shaking her head slightly.  “You shouldn’t worry so much, Thom.  I think Marin and Kel worry enough for all of us, especially when they’ve got Jac to help them worry.”  She winked at him, shrugging a little as she started to gather up the tackle and the bucket again.  “It’s an easy trail and the bank’s still really stable.  Doesn’t look like it’s eroding as fast anymore.”
            When the river’s current had picked up two weeks before, they’d been worried about that, but the river had settled down again over the past few days, back into is normal flow.  At least, that’s what Matt and Dr. Doyle had said about it, and Thom didn’t have any reason to disbelieve them.  If the banks were stable, more the better for the long run.
            Thom just nodded, watching her gather her supplies.  “Be careful,” he said.  Leah laughed.
            “I will be.  I’ll see you around lunch, okay?”  She nodded to him with a grin and headed on her way, toward one of the trails they’d beaten down to the ravines and the river below.
            The hairs on the back of his neck stirred and he shivered at a sudden chill.
            Time to go back to the fire.  He pushed himself to his feet, hobbled back toward the tent to find Matt starting breakfast at the fire with some help from Tala, who seemed to be doing most of the work.
            “Does it itch yet?”  Thom asked Matt as he lowered himself to the ground near the fire but out of the way.
            Matt snorted.  “Starting to.  Jay and Jac said that’s a good sign; means it’s healing.  It’s starting to make me crazy.”
            “Not a far putt,” Thom said, giving Matt a teasing grin.  The younger man rolled his eyes and shook his head.
            “Takes one to know one,” he countered, then poured Thom a mug of tea.  “You’re up early this morning.  Marin’s still sleeping, isn’t she?”
            Thom nodded.  Was when I left, and I’d rather leave her to catch as much as she can get before I wake her.  Her sleep had been restless the past few days, as if something was bothering her—something she wasn’t quite willing to share.  He’d been trying not to pry.  She probably wasn’t telling him because she didn’t want to fight.
            Things were going too damn well for him to pick a fight now.  Especially after last night.  It’d been the first time since the world had come apart, but they’d both needed it, and both enjoyed it.  His ribs were a little more sore this morning than they had been the day before, but he’d decided it was worth it.
            Matt stared at him for a moment as he handed over the mug.  “You two okay?”
            One corner of Thom’s mouth curled in a smile.  “Yeah, we’re okay.”
            Matt eyed him for a moment longer until Tala whacked him in the thigh with a wooden spoon.
            “Move, you’re in my way.”
            He moved out of the way, giving her an exaggerated bow.  “A thousand apologies, m’lady of the Smoked Meat.”
            Tala glared at Matt, then glanced at Thom, shaking her head.  “He’s been like this all morning.  It’s starting to make me crazy.”  She waggled the spoon in his face.  “And if you make the same wisecrack about me that you did about him, you’re going to end up with this spoon where the sun don’t shine.”
            Thom choked on a laugh, nodding.  “Right, right.”  He waited until Tala had turned back toward the fire and Matt was seated again before he asked, “Did the folks fishing down by the river eat before they left?”
            Matt frowned and Tala stopped, looking over her shoulder.  She shook her head slightly.  “There’s no one fishing down by the river this morning.”
            “…Leah just went down there.  Said a couple of the others were already there.”  She wouldn’t have lied about that, would she?
            Matt shook his head slightly.  “I’ve been up for at least two hours.  I didn’t see anyone get up to go down to the river.  Is that where Leah was going?”
            “That’s what she said.”  Thom frowned.
            “Then she went alone,” Matt said slowly.  “We’re…we’re not supposed to do that.”
            Thom felt a shiver work its way down his spine.  “Think we should send someone down after her?”
            “I’m sure she’ll be fine,” Tala said softly, turning back to the fire.  “Nothing ate her or anything when she was the one going for water all the time, after all, and she usually did that by herself.”
            Right.  Just paranoid over nothing.  Safety in numbers, but what’s going to get her down by the river?  A deer?  She’s a big girl.  She’ll be fine.
            He didn’t want to be the one to tell Kellin and Marin, though.  If that made him a coward, he was fine with that.  Let someone else tell them the rule had been violated—someone who could have done something about it.
            Still, he frowned, and brooded, staring into the fire.
            Why did she lie about someone else being down there?  Why did she go alone?

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1 Response to Day 18 – Chapter 11 – 02

  1. Apparently, I fail at the word “thousand” (though it’s fix’d this morning). And Thom is more than smart enough to realize when he doesn’t want to tell Marin and Kellin something.

    As of this writing, I have entries written up through Monday. I’m going to have to fix that today…

    Happy Wednesday!

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