Períerga Symvánta (Xinia's POV) - Part 2

Submitted into Contest #97 in response to: Start your story with a character looking out of a window in the middle of the night.... view prompt

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Adventure Science Fiction Suspense

  I swiped the little guy off the forest floor and into my pocket, safely tucked away.


  And as I swiveled round to engage further with him, I found the lone wanderer woefully watching the inanimate destruction of his unorthodox home. With soft footsteps, I reached his side and plopped down to view it with him, providing what little comfort I could offer. Had anyone shown him hospitality up till now? It was a doleful sight. As a member of the good-natured Períerga Symvánta community, I felt urged to do something about the situation─ especially after witnessing what had happened to him. I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. 

  To THINKSheriff Pechman would resort to such a manner to deliver his duties. And even then… what worth do cruel duties like those have upon society when their principles are compromised? What doctrine are they following? Is respect not a part of what they are to uphold? 

  I expected better of him. I really did.

  "Come on, let's go and salvage whatever items are left... salvageable," I shift myself from the ground, intending to stand, but his fingers clutched the sleeve of my arm and rested on it like a bird perched to a branch. 

  I sat back down.

  He released his clasp and turned to face me.

  "What good would it do for you to help me?" he asked.

  I am stumped. Did he inquire me as to why I was lending a hand? Is a stranger's simple act of kindness a rarity nowadays?

  I cleared my throat. "I have good intentions, sir. Believe me. I help out whenever I can. I volunteer at the local church just a few blocks down." The visit of a passing breeze circled the rim of my sleeve, its flapping fabric reminding me of the warmth that had clung to it just a moment ago. The cold─ it comes and it goes. "See, I've lived here for a while, and I─" 

  I am cut of speech in abrupt distraction. A sudden awareness of our proximity dawns over me. His eyes are fixated on mine - in unyielding attentiveness. His presence did not fright me, but never before had I been so conscious of eye contact. Was I like this to other people? 

  As if on cue, his gaze dropped to the grass briefly, letting me continue at ease.

"─mhgm, yes─ I was meaning to say, I am a resident here, and this is the first I've seen of you. The village folk here are mighty close with each other, you could say… You must be new here, then? Not lost, I hope?"

  He looked back up. "Not lost. I scouted out a spot for my campsite after being evicted from my former place a fair bit far from here."

  "Oh," I said. "You must have traveled for quite some time then, I take it?"

  "Do I worry you?"

  I stammered, "W-well, of-ofcourse a situation such as this calls for worry, does it not? I- I mean, I cannot help but be concerned, seeing the state of your safety, health and wellbeing…" I backpedal, "─not to say you don't look as if you can handle the current conditions yourself─"

  "It's alright," he stopped me before I could dig myself into a hole any deeper.

  "I… I just wanted to help," I finally let out.

  A gentle smile accompanied his kindly air, the look accentuating his well-formed features.

  "Thank you," he said.

  I felt two things flicker at once: my eyes, and something inside─ perhaps a little flame in its first growing embers, the enkindling sparks of an innate kindness waiting to break out and flare up. The words blurted out before I had much of any time to register them: 

  "Move in with me."

  He perked up at this, a newfound, undying gleam in his mint-hued irises.

  "Do you mean it?"

  I swallowed a cloud's worth of air before responding, "Do me the favour, sir, and settle my worries... so that I may sleep well at night knowing that you're okay."

  His stock-still figure appeared speechless.

  "Please remove me from unease. I have a roof you can sleep under, and the walls of a sturdy shelter, though it isn't a house, per se, but an apartment. The expenses are more affordable that way. I share the place with my sister." Having mentioned her aloud, the wave of realisation cascaded over me as I bolted upright with a hurriedness that might have been mistaken for panic.

  "My sister─!" I exclaimed. "I've told her to run back home so she wouldn't witness the flagellation from Sheriff Pechman earlier…" My voice falls quieter, "I'd only ever seen whippings on TV, but never before…" before trailing off.

He sprung up at an instant. "Lead the way."

 ~

 ~

  We reached my residence not long after, the swiftness to our pace and length to our strides owed to an internal sense of agitation setting in. I clicked the keys in place and rushed inside, not even waiting to hear the thud of a door shutting close from behind me.

  In haste, I made it to Trinette's room, her bedroom door ajar. I peeked in the darkness, as relief washed over me at the sight of her peaceful stature, snuggled-up and cosy in her bundle of woolen, sighing blankets. I restrained myself from squeezing her to death, my hug as tight-knitted as the covers enwrapping her small, meek frame, knowing it would only wake her from her placid sleep.

  I envisioned her bedroom doorknob as her forehead, planting a tender kiss on its gold bronze-coated, satin brass material. My timid face arose from a low-leveled point, as my line of sight changed direction, catching hold of the man's eyes I had not yet adjusted myself to, discovering he had just seen my embarrassing little act of madness, pecking at the filthy orb of a door handle. My face flushed, I grabbed the end of my sleeve─ the same end he held onto─ and wiped the dust off of my mouth before putting on a sheepish smile.

  "She's safe," I said. 



  I was now acutely aware a male stranger was standing inside my meager abode. 



  "Well… this is my place," I gestured as if he didn't already know. I was relieved to find I'd cleaned up the place rather well before today, and so the living room was thankfully presentable, and so was the kitchen and dining room. "Let me─ uhm─" I grabbed some pillows from the couch and arranged them for sleeping before briskly snatching spare blankets from my wardrobe and spreading it out across the sofa.

  "Is this alright for you?" I asked. "I'm not sure if the material is soft enough for your back─ but, I- I could get you some more cushioning if that's the case..."


  I was startled at his motion, closing in the gap between us as he neared me, a breath away from my face. I forgot how to breathe.

  He propped his arms on either side of me; his hands drooped onto my elbows in a respectful hold and lied there, the weight of his gratitude non-verbally expressed.

  "Kind soul," he leaned in and whispered to my ear; I was enfolded in his arms, the doting toastiness of his embrace, a source of heat like magma encased within the burly, thickset volcanic structure, oozing from the cracks in steady doses─ with only so much seepage to handle. My shivering shoulders and taut, hanging limbs ached for a soothing recipient─ as the limp heap of skin and bones attached to me, once tightly wound and tense, melted seamlessly before him.


 ~


  We held each other longer than I'd care to admit.


  He lent me himself as a cushion, only detaching once I'd first move to peel from his petal-like envelopment. 


  I tilted my head away, red-faced and burning, the mellow sensations still lingering on my skin. The natural hostess inside of me beckoned for well-mannered courteousness, as I went into the kitchen to cook up something for the guest. "Let me brew some tea for you," I called out while cutting stalks of lemongrass. "You must be hungry, too, aren't you?" 

  "It's quite alright," he answered from across the wall.

  "I've got some pasta─ It won't take long!" I said, turning on the stove and pouring water into a pot to boil. 

 ~

 ~

  After a while, a steaming plate of hot, salted pasta was prepared on a tray with a small bowl of marinara sauce and a floral, china cup of lemongrass tea─ a brew good for sleeping.

  "Here, please have some before sleeping."

  He bowed his head, linked his fingers in a prayer-stance, and picked up the eating utensils before digging in.

  "I'll be in my room. Let me know if you need anything," I said. As I stood to get up, he paused his eating, dipped his hand into his pocket, and procured a handmade willow hoop with feathers and beads adorning it. I'd only ever seen such things in old books. 

  "A dreamcatcher," he said. "Wear it for me. Please."

  He extended his hand out to me as I carefully plucked it from his palm, the touch sending shivers. It was only polite to fit it on, having had it tied to a silver string big enough to loop around the neck in a comely lace and net-woven ring of silk web.

  "It's Eric, by the way," he told. 

  It hadn't come across me to think to exchange names. I was flustered at the abrupt notice.

  "Xinia," I returned.

 ~

 ~

 ~

  "Goodnight, Xinia."

  "Goodnight to you too, Eric."

June 12, 2021 03:44

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