L’lorne stuck her head into the hut and glanced around the half lighted darkness. No one. With a nod of approval she slipped in and headed right for the basket that contained her few possessions. Of prime concern was the large animal hide bag that sat on top, the one she was about to fill.
In went the necklace her father had given her, made of sparkling stones and shells from some land where the river met an even greater body of water she had only ever heard stories of. Next came the blanket she and her mother had constructed together, a great piece of fabric decorated with vibrant symbols of protection and luck. An extra pair of sandals, her secret stash of sweet rock that she smuggled from the last harvest festival, a small doll made of wood and fabric that she had since she was a kid, all went into the bag.
"Not even going to say good bye?" Her mother's voice surprised her, and the bag fell in a lump to the floor. L’lorne turned to face her, and exposed the pendant she had won, the twisted T. "You're going with him, aren't you?" L’lorne couldn't even nod. Shame suddenly fell on her, trying to force her eyes down to the ground.
"He said he would teach me," she finally choked out.
"About what? What could he teach you that you cannot learn here?"
"The stars," L’lorne said hesitantly. "He promised to teach me about the stars."
Her mother stepped toward her and L’lorne winced in expectance of a slap. Instead, she was embraced in a hug. "You're too much like I was at your age." Her voice softened to almost a whisper. "I would have gone too, if I had been given a chance. I always loved to bathe in the light of the stars."
"There is still so much you have to learn from me. Things that at your age I didn't even realize I had to learn, things you haven't even thought of yet." She moved her daughter to look her right in the face. "How to be a wife, how to be a mother, dozens of others, and I want to teach them to you so bad so you can know all the feelings I am feeling now."
"If I don't go," L’lorne finally gathered the courage to say. "Then that's all I'll ever learn. I'll never know any more."
"Is that so bad?" L’lorne couldn't answer, she couldn't be angry either, and fell onto her mother's chest. "If you go, you'll learn those lessons alone, I won't be there to help you."
"Your father won't be happy. Your brothers won't be happy either."
"I want to learn about the stars."
Lcorn Denofors lightly pushed her daughter back and smiled into her eyes. "You can only go if you promise to come back and see me and tell me all you learned."
L’lorne smiled. "I promise, I promise."
Deborah had very little with her, at least as far as L’lorne had seen so far. There was a photograph of her and her mother, kept in the inside chest pocket, right next to the girl's heart. In one of the covered pockets was a clutch of credit chips, maybe 30 worth, and a lighter, which seemed a touch out of place. A half eaten bag of potato chips and a candy bar was in the other pocket, and one glove sat in each of the hand pockets of the coat.
How much had she left behind? She had said she had gathered quite a few things before leaving the only home she really ever knew, but she didn't insist on returning for them as L’lorne had expected she would. Now, as the sun set along the quiet stretch of road some 28 miles away from where they had started, going back for them would be quite impossible. Well, as far as Deborah was concerned anyway.
A sign they passed was worn, but read that they had finally entered a new county, and according to the map, there was a town only a couple miles more away. It would take maybe a half hour of walking at most, just enough time to check into a local motel for the night.
L’lorne looked back at the girl, and decided that it was impossible. Deborah was mentally exhausted, but not from the walk, just everything leading up to it was enough to wear out even the most active soul. She wouldn't admit it, though, that wasn't the kind of person she was, and if it were left to simply that, she would insist that they continue.
But she didn't know how tired she really was, how much her body had worn out in the last seven hours. The girl was reasonably fit, for her age and economic bracket, as well as her lifestyle, yet there was no way she could make such a trip on her own, she'd never survive it. L’lorne had to massage the leg muscles to keep them going, adjust the amount of oxygen flowing through her blood, and her heart rate, so that she could simply keep up. Lactic acid had to be drawn out carefully, so just enough burn could still be felt, but wouldn't overwhelm and exhaust Deborah, while the rest of the body had to be told not to over react to, well, everything that was happening. Doing all this while making it almost invisible to Deborah's ever watchful eyes had been difficult, and spoiling it now with a sharp boost to her system just to get her an extra couple of miles wasn't worth the effort.
"We should stop," L’lorne said aloud.
Deborah glanced around at fields and road and grunted. "Yeah, where?"
"Over there." A large tree, unremarkable by all accounts, and a cluster of three, car sized rocks stood only a couple of hundred meters away, plenty close enough to make it.
"Hope you brought blankets, it gets pretty cold at night." L’lorne only smiled. They'd be plenty warm enough. A warm front had, spontaneously, as far as meteorologists were concerned, settled of the entire region. To help it out, a thick stream of clouds, far too weak to carry any serious rain, but thick enough to trap heat at the surface had come in along with the front.
Deborah settled down against one of the rocks with a huff. L’lorne spent a few moments gathering dried sticks and piling them nearby. As she worked, she watched Deborah rub her tired limbs and desperately try to keep from actually falling asleep. "You know," L’lorne dropped another pile of sticks and began to organize them into a proper pile for burning. "You can just go to sleep, I won't hold it against you."
"I'm fine," Deborah lied, a yawn punctuating her fib.
L’lorne said nothing. She grabbed one of the larger, flatter sticks, almost a limb in size, and placed a longer one at a right angle on it and began to drill the longer one into it with her bare hand, while the other hand gathered dried leaves and grass around it.
"What are you doing?"
"Starting a fire." The smoke began to rise up from the pile, and suddenly a sharp light sprung up. With a push, the now burning leaves slipped under the pile of sticks and began to generate a nice, warming fire.
"Never seen anyone do that before."
L’lorne smiled. "I always used to start fires like this. Only way I could when I was a kid."
"I use a lighter." Deborah dug into her pocket and tossed it to L’lorne who caught it with ease. She turned the silver, refillable lighter in her hand, feeling the long, narrow groves that had been carved into it long after it had been originally manufactured.
"Nice. Your mothers?"
"Sort of." Deborah placed one hand out and tested the heat of the fire before bringing the other in to join it. "She always left it in her coat, using only when she wore it. I think," she paused, looking to check her own thoughts, then letting them out anyway. "I think it belonged to my father."
"Really?" L’lorne scanned the metal casing looking for a few cells that might have survived the years. It was habit anymore.
"Once, when she was using it, I asked her about dad, and she got this real sad look in her eyes and just stared at it, like she was remembering something. Then she changed the subject." Her hand flipped over and requested the lighter's return. L’lorne obliged. There was no leftover genetic material that couldn't be traced to Deborah or her mother. It wouldn't take much to find the girl's father, but to what end? Best case, he would be in the same boat as the mother, worse case. . .
No, Ritch 'arrd wouldn't have. Some random woman, relatively uneducated, powerless? Not his type. He certainly wouldn't have sent people to grab her off the street if he had, he could have just asked. In any case, Deborah would have been far more interesting than her mother.
"Oh, no, I was just remembering someone I loved once. You just reminded me of him."
Another yawn. "Really? He leave you too?"
"Sort of. Actually, I'm out looking for him. He's around somewhere, and I'd like to see him again." L’lorne considered continuing, but the girl had already fallen asleep. Good, no sense going into too many details, especially since L’lorne herself was a bit short of them as well. Besides, if she knew Deborah as well as she thought she did, there would be more questions tomorrow.
1. What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
4. I didn't write this story with chapters in mind. If I did, does this seem a good place to begin a chapter?