I hope you missed me, Anny! Areal misses you! That guy asked me how you were so many times. He wants me to tell you that Julia is doing well. She starts her studies soon, you know. We keep finding her hiding in the bookshelves. Yes, we do! She pulls the books out and climbs behind them somehow, that little imp! She might be more like you than we care to admit! I found her in a tree the other day. I still don’t know how she got up there!
Ha! You don’t have to remind me; I know where I left off. Of course, I do! It was a crucial moment in my young life! You know what it is like to be rejected by your first love? No, no, no! Don’t start getting all weepy. This is about me, not you!
Okay, so as I recall, I had been fighting it, pushing, but at that point, I was done. I had been learning to fight for Baruka’s sake. Fully, I was ready to kill Captain if it came to that for her! I was forcing one foot in front of the other, trying to make something work, all for her. But if Baruka did not care anymore, then neither did I!
I still recall how frightened I was when I went to Loina’s house that someone would see me: that someone would try to stop me! Fully all of them! That was how I felt! Fully Petton and Baruka. Fully Captain and that guy with the short arms (I forget his name)! Fully the fully lot of them, I was done!
What? Didn’t I tell you about that guy? The one with the short arms? I didn’t? Well, then, when I was practicing my ax skills with the guys, there was one who I swear his arms were too short for his body. No, really! They were like this when they should have been more like this. You get me? He was a cocky fellow for someone with limited reach! He only used a spear. You can imagine why.
He had a face; you might know the type. You see it, and you intuitively knew you hated this person. They hadn’t said anything or done anything, but there is this churning in your gut that just screams, “I hate this guy!” And I did! I hated him instantly!
Anyway, I stuffed the few things I had into my bag, stole some food, and checked to make sure I had my father’s ax about a dozen times. I checked, then I checked again, then I looked around Loina’s place, making certain I had everything. I was not coming back! Satisfied, I recalled that Baruka’s dagger was still in my boot. I pulled it out, and I wondered if I ought to leave it behind or try to return it. Fully her! I stuffed it back into my boot!
Then I marched out the front gate and down the path, we had taken to get there in the first place. I felt this hotness in my cheeks, waiting for the inevitable conflict of someone asking me where I was going or what I was doing. The thing was, it never came. I walked right out of that place, and nobody tried to stop me or ask me if I was okay. Nobody seemed to care if I was there or not. Nobody.
The path meandered through the pine woods headed back towards the cliffs we had traveled up to get there. Once I had gotten far enough away that it was obvious I was free, I felt more confined than ever. I followed the path for an hour, just slowly shuffling along, looking back on occasion to see if anyone was coming. Nobody.
I felt my stomach drop to my feet. I thought, “I don’t belong here. I never did, and even if I vanish, nobody will notice.” I had nothing to go back to. Nothing to go forward to either. Where was I going anyway? I hadn’t fit in back home. I didn’t here. Where else was there? The idea came that I could just live on the side of the mountain: alone forever! I clung to that idea, parading through the mountain like I owned it!
I noticed a clearing in the trees up ahead. There was an outcropping where you could scuttle out to the edge of this enormous rock. I made my way over and could see over the trees and down into the valley stretched out below. Like I said, no one was around, so I relieved myself over the edge. That was a freeing experience! I guess you can’t relate. Anyway, then I sat down, taking a drink from my canteen. It was almost empty. I pulled out my father’s ax because it was hitting my leg. He probably missed this piece of wood and metal more than me! I was considering launching the fully thing over the edge of the cliff when I dropped it! Slipped right through my sweaty fingers! It bounced over the edge of the cliff, and I could hear it, PLINK, PLINK, PLUNK! Well, shoot. I couldn’t go home without it. Not that I had made my mind up about that just yet, but a man likes to have options!
I surveyed the landscape, and it seemed like the path would take me close to where it must have landed. I certainly wasn’t going over the edge myself! So I began down the trail once more, trying to keep track of the place where the ax might have landed.
For Part 19 Click Here