Excerpt – Chapter Fourteen, Scene Twelve –
She sobbed, because she felt somehow hollowed out and empty, as though a part of herself was missing, or perhaps unmoored. She sobbed because the boy – Henry, whispered her mind – was so gentle and kind, but she could sense a strength and fierceness in him, too – and those reminded her of the father she could no longer recall, but could feel the inexpressible echoes of.
She sobbed because she was hurt, and frightened, and had been far too long alone.
Sima garo provides…..
The thought was familiar and reassuring. Nockatee did not understand its meaning, but felt the truth in whatever that meaning was……
Henry held her, his fingers stroking through her hair, whispering some unknown song to her. The fear in his scent, now, was mixed with tenderness toward her, and surprise at such tenderness……and, in his mind, something long curled tightly began to open…..
Then they were sobbing together – for their hollowed places and their pain. their fear and the comfort of each other. They curled together upon the carrying nest he had brought her in, and wept, until there was no more weeping in either of them.
“You’ve been hurt, Nockatee. I think it might be beyond simple hurt.” Now he fear was for her, and not of her. “I don’t know if I can help you, or if you can heal.”
“Sima garo provides, Henry,” she hiccoughed.
“What is sima garo, Nockatee?”
She frowned. She could sense it, knew it was true – but she had no way to understand or express its truth. “I don’t know,” she said. “But I did, before….”
“Then maybe you will again, when you have healed – ” she felt him realizing that he did not want to lie to her in any way. “If you can heal, and recover your self.”
“There is healing in being with you, Henry. And peace and comfort. That is enough, for me, now. I do not know how long I have been alone, or where it is that I belong, but I am grateful for you, and this place, now.”
She felt that he needed space to adjust to these new things he was feeling, and it reminded her, with an odd and urgent pain, of Father – the father she could no longer remember, but who still filled her with shadowy presence, flames, and need.
Something in her softened with a not-quite remembered memory of a man she had forgotten. “We are well-met indeed, Henry.”
He half-turned to face her, and smiled shyly under his tumble of brown red curls. Then, without saying anything, he turned to tend to the fire and the savory broth in his blackened metal kettle.
She watched him – the way he moved, unhurried, but efficient….again, it triggered familiarity in her soul to see it. The expressions that flickered in his face……
She couldn’t fix on him for long, because whatever had swept away her memories also had injured her deeply. She was quite certain she would not die, but she had a strong awareness that her senses and responses were not nearly what they had been, before, and, although she had been surviving here, she could not now, without a protector and benefactor.
When her eyes would no longer focus, she let them close – looking too long seemed to induce an urge to be sick – and let herself simply attend to the myriad scents and sounds of this place, learning it through them, making it the beginning of her new life.