Cran Palto | Books | Raheem
Heeding the call of night is heeding the call of space. Our bodies may be in one place, but our minds can be everywhere. To limit our thoughts to the ground around our feet is to limit ourselves to merely surviving. When you have enough to live, lift your eyes to the darkest sky, and reach into eternity.
That morning Trion found the composite bow Yigars’ friend had left behind. After repairing and resetting the trap, he walked directly to the research bench where Agra was writing and laid the bow on the end of the bench.
Agra stopped writing and turned to Trion. “Do you think you can make more of them?” Agra asked.
“If you can find what kind of wood they used. It doesn’t seem like pine to me.”
Agra placed her index and middle fingers on the side of the bow and slowly ran them down the surface. “It’s a laminate.” She bent down to take another look. “See, there’s a thin layer of glue between two very similar woods.”
Trion smiled. “Let me know what you find out and I’ll make us some.”
Vaega was tending the fire, drying Genoresis Macraw leaves for Agra when Trion came to see her. He sat on the little wooden bench he had made. “How is the prisoner?”
“Yigars is awake,” Vaega replied.
“Did he give you any trouble?”
“Not at all. I think he’s grateful we’re taking care of him.”
“We need to know what his intentions were.”
Vaega looked up from rolling the dried leaves. “What were they looking for? Food, weapons, valuable things, people.”
“Have you spoken to him about that?”
“Nothing beyond giving him food, water, and making sure he’s comfortable.”
“How’s his injury?”
“It’s fine. He’ll recover fully.”
Trion looked at the flames in the fire. The wood was slowly turning to heat and ash. He lifted his hands above them, warming himself.
“I gave Agra the bow we found,” Trion said, “the bow the other man dropped.”
“Uweps,” Vaega said.
“I wonder if he made it to safety, to his people,” Vaega said.
“Perhaps they will come back to free Yigars.” Trion pondered, his left hand on his chin.
At that moment, Agra came walking by, spear in hand, bag on her shoulder. “I will go look for wood for the bows.”
Trion turned to her. “Do you want me to go with you?”
Agra cocked her head to the left and smiled, sunlight on her face. “I’ll be alright. Maybe it’s best if Vaega isn’t alone with the prisoner.”
Trion asked, “you mean for her safety?”
“I don’t know if we can trust him yet.”
They stared at one another a moment then Agra turned and walked toward the gate.
She returned late in the afternoon with three rabbits and two thick poles balanced over her shoulders. The camp was quiet, and she wondered whether Trion and Vaega were in the cabin, enjoying one another. She saw Trion coming out of the kitchen with frozen meals. He walked to the fire, which was burning low.
Trion placed the frozen meals on the steel plate next to the fire, then poked the wood and embers around, added a split log, and new flames leaped higher.
Agra dropped the poles and the rabbits. “Will you prepare them?”
Trion answered while arranging the meals on the platter. “Vaega said she would take care of that.”
“I’ll leave them in the kitchen then.”
“Agra,” Trion said.
“What is it Trion?”
“Vaega’s been with the prisoner—Yigars—for several hours.”
“Is she okay?”
“I was worried, so I went to check, but I didn’t go in. Through the door I heard them taking, giggling, and laughing.”
“I didn’t bother them. I got hungry and wanted to make dinner.”
Agra looked at the frozen antelope meat beginning to thaw on the steel plate next to the fire. “You want me to help you?”
Trion smiled wryly. “I have to learn how to cook someday. It may as well be now.” He jutted his chin toward the wood poles. “Is that for the bows?”
“Yes, I think if you cut them very thin and glue them together—” Agra lifted one rabbit. “We can make glue with these, and we’ll have good bows.”
Trion smiled. “Great! I’ll try to make us some bows then!”
Agra smiled, too. “I’ll go check on Vaega and Yigars.”
The sun had dipped behind the mountains in the distance, turning the sky orange and purple with gray lines where clouds fought against the light.
At the jail cabin, Agra paused. She listened for sounds inside but heard nothing. Holding her spear, she opened the door.
The room was dark, with only a little light poking through tiny holes in the walls and at the juncture with the roof. On one of the two beds, Vaega had laid down next to Yigars, her body against his, her left leg over his. Neither moved when she entered. Agra closed the door behind her, the locking mechanism snapping back in place.
That small metallic noise was enough. Vaega turned her face toward the door.
“Are you okay?” Agra whispered.
“I am perfect,” Vaega replied, her voice sleepy and raspy.
“How is Yigars?”
Vaega’s left hand was still on the middle of his chest. “He’s doing well.”
Agra took a step closer. There was a sweet musky scent in the room.
“You—” Agra began.
Vaega’s smile beamed in the darkness. “Yes.” She nearly hissed it out, dragging the word out between her lips.
“How was it?”
“Magical. You should try it.”
At that moment, Yigars opened his eyes. He turned his face to Agra and smiled. She felt heat in her cheeks and looked away from his intense stare.
Yigars’ left arm was under Vaega’s body. He moved his hand up against her back and caressed her hair. Vaega snuggled closer against him.
“How is your arm?” Agra asked.
“I have a good doctor.” He kissed Vaega’s forehead.
Agra noticed too late she had bitten her lower lip. She straightened her stance and pushed away the thoughts that suddenly clouded her mind.
Vaega stood and stepped to Agra. She lifted her lips to Agra’s right ear and said, “he’s all yours.”
Her eyes were sparkling with new vigor and happiness; her smile said more than her words.
“I’ll go make dinner,” she said.
Agra turned to face Vaega. “Trion is cooking.”
Vaega’s eyed went wide. “He’s a great engineer, but—”
“We all have to learn to survive on our own.”
Vaega nodded, her face serious again. She opened the door and left.
Agra turned her face again to look at Yigars. He had not moved, looking at her with animal hunger.
She held his stare this time, then let her gaze slowly scan his naked body. This did not seem to bother him, and he smiled, revealing beautiful white teeth. She almost took a step forward but the pain in her left leg, the face of the feral fox, and the mad yapping of the beast attacking her flashed in front of her eyes, superimposing the reddish-brown fur snout with jutting canines over Yigars’ face. She took a step back instead.
He saw the haze in her eyes and his smile faded. “What is it?”
Agra looked down at the floor, at the planks between them, trying to shake the image. “Just a bad memory.”
Yigars lifted himself out of bed and stood in front of her. “May I hold you?”
He walked the two steps between them and wrapped his left arm around her back. She put her left arm around his waist, careful to not press against his bandage and sling. She was nearly as tall as he was.
“I know about bad memories,” Yigars said.
They held each other in silence for a little while, each lost in their unspeakables.
Later, when Vaega brought food to him, Yigars asked, “why are you all so nice to me?”
For answer, Vaega checked his dressing, admonished him to rest and sleep, and holding his face in her hand, kissed him passionately.
Next chapter: Electric Stove
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