Adventure Drama Friendship

The sun rising above the horizon through the trees of the mountain cast a shadowed glow across Belinay’s face as she sat on the wood planks of the deck. The wood was cool and damp on her fingertips and bare toes. Akachi stepped across the threshold of the back door and set a mug beside Belinay’s right hip before resting his elbows on the railing. The deck wrapped around the rental cabin, giving a good view of the landscape below them. 

Akachi sipped from his steaming mug and watched two deer follow a hardly visible trail in the dense forest below the cabin. It was situated on the edge of the mountain, built into the side so the entrance was on the ground and the rest was almost floating amidst the trees. The sunrise cast so many colors through the clouds it was like an artist had dropped his palette. 

Akachi turned to face Belinay, whose pale stringy hair stuck out in every direction, forming a halo around her head in the sunrise. 

“You know, your toes might freeze,” Akachi gestured with his mug to Belinay’s bare feet. 

She laughed, so light and airy it was carried away with the wind. “Oh yeah, let me go get socks before I get sick.” 

Akachi smiled and looked her over. Her body had become frail after the weight loss. Her strong leg muscles, once used for jumping hurdles, had diminished into weakness that could hardly even carry her to the hurdles anymore. Her cheekbones sunk into her face, outlining the dark circles underneath her eyes. She took a breath in and her lungs rattled. He saw her attempt to suppress a cough, but failed as it overtook her body. She doubled over and held her hand over her mouth to catch the blood that creeped out. 

“Drink up. It’ll warm you up before we get started.” Akachi turned once more to rest his elbows against the railing.

Belinay sipped the contents of her mug as the sun rose higher above the horizon. Warmth spread through her body as it spread through the sky. Birds called as they flew through the trees and twigs snapped in the distance as the forest came to life. When she finished her mug she left it on the planks of the deck and stood next to her friend at the railing. 

“Ready?” She asked. 

“I should be asking you that,” Akachi kept his eyes on the rising sun. 

“I’ve been ready for months. Let’s get started.” 

Inside the rental cabin, decorated like you’d expect any cabin to be with deer heads and antlers along the walls and faux animal hide rugs, Belinay went to the restroom while Akachi grabbed a trunk and set it on the table. He unlocked it and started unpacking the contents. She walked into the common room a moment later and sat on the couch. The inside of her right arm was red where she had shaved and scrubbed it. 

Akachi set the jar of ink on the table next to the needles sealed in a plastic wrapping. She reached over him and plucked the needles off the table and turned them over in her hand. 

“Have you ever done this before?” She asked. 

“Bel, this weekend is full of things I’ve never done before.” 

She raised an eyebrow, “True. Well,” she shrugged, “I’m ready when you are.” 

Akachi pulled on a pair of latex gloves, swabbed Belinay’s arm with an alcohol pad, and opened the ink jar and one package of needles. He took a breath in and bent over her arm. The needle tingled as it touched her skin. He was deliberate with where he placed the needle, though he retraced his previous ink falls over to ensure it sunk deep. He ignored the ache in his back and strain on his eyes. 

Belinay had moved to sit on the floor and she rested her head against the couch cushion behind her. Her eyes were closed, though she didn’t sleep. Every fall of the needle into her skin was a reminder to her of all the months of struggle. 

The angle of the sun through the tall windows changed as it lifted higher in the sun. It took a few hours, but Akachi finally pulled away from Belinay’s arm and inspected his final work. 

“Let me see,” Belinay pulled her arm toward her face and read over the ink scribbled on her arm over and over. A smile erupted on her face and she closed her eyes and leaned back with a laugh, “It’s perfect! That’ll teach ‘em!” 

“Yeah,” Akachi smiled and pulled his leather gloves off. He watched the deep angles of her face, the lines that stretched and formed when he laughed. The tank top she wore showed off the protruding bones of her shoulders and arms. He swore that he could put his hands around her waist and touch his fingertips if he tried. 

“So, what now?” She checked the watch on her wrist. “It’s only 1 o’clock.” 

Akachi stretched his arms and back, “We’re ahead of schedule.” 

“I’ll make you some lunch.” 

She stood on shaky feet and happily bounded to the kitchen where she opened some cabinets and drawers. Moments later she returned with two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They ate in silence as the wind blew against the cabin. Tonight would be cold. 

Belinay licked the jelly off her fingers and stood, “You’re turn.” 


She grabbed a packaged needle off the table, “Take your shirt off.” 

Akachi furred his eyebrows but did as he was told. She moved an alcohol pad across his right shoulder blade and blew on it to dry. He felt the bite of the needle sink in as she drew on his skin with ink. More time passed, time he wasn’t expecting, before she stood up and admired her work. 

“Let me see,” Akachi turned his head to try to get a good angle of his shoulder. 

“Not a chance!” She pushed his head away and pushed his shirt into his hands. “You’re not allowed to look at it until after.” 

“I never agreed on that! What if it’s something stupid.” 

“Promise.” She crossed her arms. 

He met her stubborn eyes and rolled his eyes, “Fine.” 

“Yay! Now put your shirt on, nobody wants to see that.” 

“What, you mean my muscles,” Akachi flexed. 

“You’re not a footballer anymore, put those away,” Belinay laughed as he pulled his shirt over his head. 

They stayed like that for a moment, him sitting on the rug of the cabin, her standing behind the couch, until she sighed and spoke. 

“Alright. Let’s do this.” 

The air outside blew a chill that went up akachi’s spine as he walked behind Belinay through the fallen leaves of the forest outside the cabin. She had memorized the way to the lake after they arrived yesterday. It had been a long drive, close to nine hours, and tomorrow he would be making it alone. 

The forest was large, as it was attached to a national park, and spanned from the mountains to the plains they created at the base. Akachi guessed it snowed a lot during the winter months, but the fireplace in the cabin was large enough to keep the entire place warm. The slope descended into a flat dale that housed the lake. It was a nice sized lake, not entirely large, but not not small either. 

Belinay removed her shoes and waded into the section of the lake that was shallow and smaller than the rest. Akachi watched a shiver spread through her body as her jeans soaked the water in. 

“Well, it’s cold alright.” 

He couldn’t help but burst out laughing. “Yeah, what else would it be?” 


She stood in the water for a few minutes, moving her feet around in the pebbles and rocks that lined the bottom. 

“I thought it would be sand, but it’s rocks. Sharp rocks.” 

“Not all lakes are sandy. And those that are are probably gross.” 

She shrugged, “You’re right. Not that these rocks aren’t gross.” 

Belinay finally walked out of the water and took her shoes in her hand. Akachi took the lead as they walked around the lake, searching its shores and the tree line that surrounded it. The sun had sunk, nearing the horizon by the time they found the perfect stone to do the job. Akachi placed it on the shore of the lake in between the two of them. 

He looked up to see her smiling, though tears were streaming down her face. He wanted to memorize her, but this wasn’t his friend. This was the result of a long road of suffering. He had all he needed to remember her in the picture collage she made for him before they left, of them in high school. When she was at her prime. 

He stepped forward and drew her in. He felt each bone jab into him as they embraced and knew he was doing what was right for her. What they couldn’t help her with. She drew away, gave him an encouraging smile, and turned her back toward him. 

The stone was heavy as Akachi lifted it above his head. This must be how she feels. Felt. 

* * * * * 

Akachi sat hugging his knees on the shore of the lake underneath the cabin in the mountains. He had been there long enough to see the sun sink and the moon rise to shine over the lake where he had left her. He had used up all his tears when he held her body after the stone in his hands had hit true. 

He used that stone to tie to her and allow her to rest at the bottom of the lake. She had wondered how deep it was, now she knew. 

Akachi’s hand grazed over his arm, in the spot where he had drawn her tattoo. One day, someone would find her, and see the words etched on her skin forever. He closed his eyes. 

Terminal with the will to live and the body to die. No medicines would help? No cure? But no aid to my pain, either? I’ll have to take my life into my own hands. And that I did. 

Akachi took his arm out of his sleeve and felt the cool of the night hit the tender skin of his shoulder. He took a breath and turned his shoulder toward the reflection of the moon in the lake. She had written a message to him, etched into his skin until his time comes, like hers did. 

You are an angel sent from God meant to carry me home.

November 17, 2020 21:09

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