First, I want to thank everyone who checked out other authors from my site! I think I had seven hits to other web pages through mine, and that’s something I’m happy for. So when you’re done reading, or even when you get bored, pick a picture to the right and click it. See what they’ve written.
“Grandpa, I burned my hand.” Ellie went to her grandpa while he worked in his garden, her hand throbbing. There was a red mark on the palm.
“Is that so?” Her grandpa took a knee and looked it over. “You did burn it. How did you do this?”
“I touched the oven.” She looked away, twirling back and forth, holding the wrist of her burned hand.
“Were you not warned the oven would be hot? Grandma is readying tea, child.” Even as a young girl, Ellie knew grandpa was leading her to what he thought the logical path. It was, of course, but she would never say so.
“Those who listen to those whom have learned will be filled with wisdom. Those who do as they like must learn a life time of information on their own.” He kissed her forehead. “Do you remember what to do about a burn?”
She nodded and went into the garden, bringing back a plan. Grandpa smiled and it made the girl forget the throbbing in her hand for a moment. Then he said, “Do you remember how to use it?” She shook her head, looking away again. “Give it to me, dear.” Grandpa took the plant and cracked it in two, a salve oozing out. “Now give me your hand.” She did as she was told and he applied the salve. “Remember, sweet pea,” he touched her nose, “There is the path we try on our own and the path we take with others. When you take a path with others, you’ll….”
But Ellie’s eyes opened. She bolted up in bed and looked around. “You’ll what,” she muttered. Ellie was in her early twenties, living with her grandparents for the time as she figured out life. It had been difficult, and the dream seemed to almost hold a key. Then there was the sound of a boat’s horn in the distance. “No, it’s today. I can’t be late.”
She darted out of her bed, shuffling around her room for clean enough clothes to wear outside, and took off towards the dock. It was the day Royce left. She had to convince him to stay. It would be okay. He couldn’t go. She needed him. He needed her.
Royce was helping Lena with the equipment. There were numerous crates of goods, both rations and for read outs. Royce shouted, “Bring it down there. Be gentle with it.” The box was marked FRAGILE.
“Royce!” Ellie shouted out after him and he smiled and nodded to her, then finished putting down the crate. Lena was watching, sighing, shaking her head, but she said nothing before getting back to jotting down notes. “Royce,” she ran to him and hugged him as he walked down the gangplank. “I thought I missed you.”
He grinned and kissed the top of her head, “You will miss me.”
“Where are you going?” She walked alongside him as he continued to check the crates and signified another to be picked up. The crane started his way.
“To the north.”
“Ylinsk?” She intentionally bumped her arm against the back of his. His body was warm. He wore a tee shirt and shorts with sandals. Ellie was wearing jeans with a tank top. He winced and she pulled back.
“No, farther. The mist north of Ylinsk cleared up. That was the earthquake last week. They say it’s a body of ice which was shattered at some point. We’re finding out what lives there and why it’s shattered. You should come with.”
“You should stay.” She touched the back of his forearm and he visibly shivered then let out a grunt. “Please don’t go.”
“Give me a reason. I can’t wait here as your back up. Pick me or him. I’d rather you pick me, but if you’re not going to, I need to keep moving.” The crane lowered over the crate and Royce attached it to the box then gave a thumbs up. “I want to be with you. You’re the one keeping me at arms length. Why can’t you leave him?”
“Horribly. You’re right, he’s as good for you as I am. You likely praise us both equally. Why do you need me around, then?”
“Because you’re an amazing man.”
“Not amazing enough.” He made his way up the gangplank and the gangplank was retracted. “That’s the last of the cargo.” He reached out a hand, grinning. “Leave here with me. Be with me.” Lena was watching, glowering at Ellie. Lena was a close friend to Royce. Too close as far as Ellie was concerned.
“Don’t go. I can’t go with you. I need to stay here.”
He retracted his hand, landing both feet on the deck and smiling, blowing her a kiss. “I love you, Ellie. I’ve been a fool for you. But there are big things to be done. You can come along or wait here. If you need me, you know where I’ll be. If you want me, come get me.” He bowed dramatically and laughed, going over by Lena. Lena crossed her arms and scowled.
Lena shook her head when Royce approached her. He shrugged, “What’s wrong with you?” His smug grin was still there on his face as he took out a snack bar. “It’s a beautiful day.”
“You wanted to take her along.”
Royce nodded, his eyes becoming glazed over. He looked back to the harbor, and there she was, still standing on the pier, a single person on an empty dock. He waved and she waved back. More than likely she was crying. Royce couldn’t afford to. Not now. He wanted to, though. “I did want to take her along. I want to take her along on my life and marry her. Have children and raise a family in a Volden pleasing way. I want to sweep her off her feet and convince her I’m the husband she’s looking for.”
“You’ve tried hard enough.”
Royce nodded, the smile on his face fading, “Truth. Maybe one day she’ll try.” He shrugged again, “But it’s not up to me and I can’t stay here, waiting and hoping. Time to do something great, and if she wants to be a part of it….”
“She’s not going to be. She does this to you every time and you become useless. Keep your head here in the game. You won’t see her for a few months, anyway.”
“Truth on that as well. I’ll still miss her and love her. I’ll still desire her more than anything Volden’s given me in this life. But until she desires me in that way, there’s no use staying here.”
Lena nodded, “Some sense. And you’re far enough away from her not to get dragged back.”
Royce’s chest was tight. It was the truth. This made sense. This was the right move. He still wanted to cry. He still wanted to jump off the boat and swim to her. But as long as she had another man, it wasn’t fair to anyone for Royce to stay. If she wanted to marry him, she would make the effort. She would jump into the ocean and come to him, or at least they’d meet halfway.
He shook his head, “We should focus. What do we know about the ice? Is there any information?” And so Royce and Lena planned.