I sniffed and lowered my head, they don’t want me here. They think I am a monster, they’re right. I shouldn’t have been born. Silently I cried for the first time in years. Nate lifted his hand up to my face, lifting my head. His other hand reached up to my eyes and gently wiped away my tears. We looked at each other, his dark brown eyes searching mine for something. I smiled slightly and he returned the gesture. Sadly to my dismay the silence was broken.
Swinging open the door Jeania stood in the door way staring madly at us.
“You, in that bed NOW!! You are not to get up at anytime unless my mother or I are in the room. Is that clear enough for you?” She spat.
“Ma’am, you are very kind to have taken me and my friend in and care for us. But you have no right to order me around about how I will conduct myself! I had a concern for my friend’s well-being and I will look at him to make sure he is okay whether you want me to or not!” My voice was even and threatening.
“As long as you are in the house you will be safe,” the older woman was in the doorway now. “But you will follow our rules so that you will heal as best as possible. Jeania is merely enforcing our rule that all patients have to stay in bed unless we are in the room with them in case they get hurt while moving.”
“I’ll accept that but I won’t be pushed around by a woman who wants to win over Nate’s affection by ordering me around!” I ended up yelling.
Jeania’s face reddened, “How DARE you say that, it isn’t true!!”
“Then why are you red?” I snapped and fell back on the bed.
“Will you two cut it out? I am right here!” Nate was calm but his tone shut both of us up immediately.
“Right now I just want to sleep, okay? Please just be quiet!” His voice started to whine.
“Alright Nate, I’ll leave you alone.” I whispered softly laying down into the beds soft cushion.
Both women walked out, the older woman hesitated at the door then shut it behind her. My head was spinning in so many directions I didn’t know what to do. Part of me enraged by what had been said about me wanted to prove Jeania right by going out the door and change forms right in front of her. Another part told that I needed to rest and get back my strength before I did anything. And what was Nate going to say before we heard shouting? The look he had in his eyes was more than enough to tell me that it was important. Hours ticked passed me laying there tossing about in panic.
Morning came and I knew I was getting worse. My throat was swollen and it burnt so much it hurt to swallow. My arms felt like lead, my stomach was a raging fire that rose and fell with every movement. My sight was blurred to where I couldn’t tell what was what. I didn’t get up, didn’t wake Nate, didn’t call for help, I couldn’t if I had wanted to. Finally, Jeania entered the room but, she headed straight for Nate! Here I am, dying and she goes to Nate first! If I get out of this I am going to tell her that she should be working at a farm, not in medicine because she goes to the men first!
A sudden cry erupted next to me, Nate! He was awake and in pain. I forgot about how badly my stomach hurt and sat up, just to be pushed down. What is going on here? A ghost is pushing me down? But I was wrong; it was the old woman who pushed me down. She had entered without me knowing it.
“Relax little one, he is getting his bandage changed. It always hurts the first time. He is fine, you on the other hand have a fever, and your wounds are swollen.” Her voice would have been calming but I was thinking about one thing. They had hurt Nate.
My breathing sped up and I spoke, “Leave…him…alone!”
“Kali, is that you?” It was Nate, I relaxed slightly.
“Yes, it’s Kali.”
“You look terrible. You know that?” He almost laughed.
Turning my head I could barely make out his face. Everything went black at that moment and I plunged into needed sleep.
§ ¤ §
Nate watched every minute that the healers were in the room what they did to Kali looking for a sign of her waking. Jeania had told him that she wasn’t doing well but she didn’t have to tell him. He could feel it, the way her face was waxy and drawn, how when she slept she didn’t dream, he couldn’t stand just sitting there. There was once when she woke up, it was just a moment but it was enough. She had turned toward him and looked into his eyes, you know how people look at you and you feel as if you’ll never see them again, she gave him that look and his heart tore into a million pieces. He didn’t eat for the rest of the day, nor did he speak when Jeania asked him what was wrong.
She caressed his hand fondly, “You can start walking around now, mind you can’t go outside just yet.”
“Thank you.” His voice was hollow as he looked up at her expectant eyes.
Nate didn’t move or act like he wanted to move making Jeania pull away and leave the room. Balancing on his elbows he worked himself up against the bed post. Slowly he swung his left leg over the side of the bed and then his right, they were stiff. He pushed off the bed and staggered onto Kali’s bed. She looked horrible, her skin looked as if a child was painting a face for the first time, and it didn’t look real. Her cheeks were full. Agony shot through him as he realized if he wouldn’t have left her she wouldn’t be this way now. It was his fault.
“Kali, I’m sorry, please wake up, don’t leave yet. I have to tell you…” His eyes shifted over her face as a few tears fell down onto her.
“This isn’t what I expected. I’m a simple ranger exploring the world, I wasn’t supposed to find you, let alone fall in, love. I still have to carry out the message but I will only do it because I have to, not because I want to. I’ll come back for you.”
Tears were rolling freely now, he no longer cared about being strong. If he stared hard enough it looked like her eyes would shift slightly. Wait a minute. Nate watched closer and there it was a slight twitch from her eyes. He put his hand on her face and waited, would she wake up? Her head turned and ever so slowly her eyes creaked open.
“I remember you, Nate. Are you okay?” Her voice was small, tired.
Smiling he nodded, “I’m fine, but you have been very sick for a while now. You had me scared.”
“Nate, what were you going to tell me?” Nate’s heart pounded.
“That I didn’t expect-“
“Well, we have finally woke up, took you long enough.” Jeania’s shrill voice echoed behind them. Nate closed his eyes and turned to face her, and then he stood up.
“She has woken up, yes but you weren’t helping her heal though were you? Putting sleeping herbs in her tea when your mother wasn’t looking, that isn’t an honest act. You won’t be touching her again you here me?” His voice rose stronger and he took a step forward.
“I was merely trying to help!” She whined and left the room sniffing.
“Nate, you didn’t have to do that. I could have handled it myself but, thank you for saying something though I appreciate it.” My voice soft, almost far off.
“Kali, please I need to tell you something. When you said you would take me to Rohan I didn’t expect that I would find something I have been missing for a long time.” He took a deep breath gently took my hand. “I fell in love with you, Kali.”
“Nate, I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. Even though I’m a werein you love me. I know I should be greatful that you have fallen in love with me but I have to get Mirkwood back before I think about anything else.” I saw the pain rush into his features and felt shameful.
“I understand, there is hope though?” His eyes looked child-like, begging.
“More than enough hope for us, don’t worry. Now how about you go and get back in shape walking around town and I’ll work on getting out of this bed?” I smile slightly.
He left as I expected him to. I sat there for a while shocked. I’d never thought that this would happen, any of this. My intention was to go to Rohan and Gondor to ask for help in taking back Mirkwood.