Someone cleared their throat in front of me; I looked up at the woman standing in front of me.
"Excuse me, dear. Are you feeling alright? You went red and lost focus when I gave you the coins."
I mentally rolled my eyes these idiots didn't just know when they behave so stupidly.
"Please, pardon me, ma'am, I was just so touched by your kindness I couldn't just mind feeling the immense gratitude for it," I said in the sweetest voice I could muster.
"You're such a darling, dear, your parents are so lucky to have you."
And she shoved a biscuit in my mouth and shut the door.
I guess I should probably go home now, Dad would have closed up the shop by now then I better get going before he freaks. It's already getting dark.
I had just finished changing into my nightwear, a black worn-out flannel night-gown when Daddy furiously barged into my room. His face was scarlet which meant he was livid with anger. Uh-uh, the lecture is coming.
"Deaih, I was so worried about you, where have you been? I thought we had already talked about coming home before it gets dark-"
"Dad, nothing's gonna happen; besides nothing ever happens-"
"But you don't know that people may seem nice here but men do cruel things to women in this world."
I sighed, in this small village that was so insignificant that most people never knew its name. Usually, I am reminded of the stark bipolarity between royalty and plebeians-
"Deaih, are you even listening to me?"
"Of course, I was listening to you droning on about my behaviour."
Daddy rubbed his temples in exasperation,
"Look, I know you get tired of me always saying this but just be careful."
And he walked out of the room not without saying "Just think about it, would you."
I listened for his bedroom door closing then I let out a breath of relief.
"Now, I can go and peacefully deal with my latest intrigue."
6 weeks ago
"Night-light! Night-light! Where on earth are you darling?"
I had returned from the market only to discover that our cat was missing which either meant that she was molesting a customer's cat or disturbing the tranquillity of the morning rush in the bakery.
"AAHH! Get away you infernal beast,"
I thought and ran off towards the direction of the voice which continued to rant. I was soon standing face-to-face with a squalid boy who looked around my age; his face was scarlet in anger probably due to the three red, ugly looking scratches obviously made by my cat. My eyes wandered off in search of my cat and spotted him near the edge of the clearing, calmly licking his paws nonchalantly.
Oh, boy! I'll certainly give her an earful when we got home. In the meantime, I scooped her into my arms and checked for any physical injuries. I began to leave when something grabbed my arm; I found myself facing the boy I had met just moments ago. Oh, I had forgotten about him. He seemed ready to explode and did I mention his face was seriously looking bad. Oh well, that's his fault you should never mess with a cat.
"Girl, look at my beautiful face and what your little monster has done to it,"
I noticed he had bad breath and his unruly, raven hair needed cutting. I released myself from his hold and took a step back. "When was the last time you observed personal hygiene because you look really bad," I remarked.
"Look, as far as I can tell you're roughly fourteen-years-old and innocent but naive enough to not know anything about the world at large-"
"Whoa, I don't know who you are; I really don't care but you've got no right to tell me I'm naive," I said, "if you don't mind, I'm going home."
I briskly walked out of his reach in case he had any notion of grabbing me again and sprinted back to the bakery.
"Deaih, I've been looking for you and today is going to be hectic."
And I was reluctantly dragged into waiter services. Before I knew it the day went by in a blur, I dragged myself upstairs ready to collapse on a surface. That's when an irritating knock came on my window, I just ignored but it came again.
"Who the bleeding hells disturbs people when they're sleeping,"
I looked up and saw an ugly looking black shape in the moonlight
"What the -"
The thing grabbed me and I started hitting wildly, only to see scratch-boy whose wound looked really infected. I aimed for the manhood and he fell in pain.
I faced my attacker
"What the hell man, you want to die!"
He struggled to talk as he said in clenched teeth
"Why are asking me that, you're the one who is so bleeding violent,"
"Well, I'm not the one who sneaks upon girls when they're sleeping," I spat back
He finally stood up and shook his head in exasperation
"Gosh, I'm sorry but I need your help," He pointed to his ill-fated injury on his face."It's infected and it's a pain to eat since you were the cause of my ill-begotten state, would you mind helping me out?"
I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding
"Fine, but don't do anything stupid,"
I led him downstairs into the kitchen and started searching for the herbs and medicines. Honey, just in case he's a crybaby. I proceeded to clean his wounds with a poultice.
He opened his mouth to cry out and I scooped the honey into it.
"Shut it and don't cry, it'll be over soon,"
I finished with dressing the wound then turned to appraise him, he looked really hungry, filthy and tired. But his black hair and pitch black eyes gave him an enigmatic and attractive appearance. I went to the larder to get some sausages and brown bread. He looked at me with weary eyes and cautiously gobbled it up.
"Who are you? Why do you keep coming back?"
He gave me a weird look and stood up and jumped out of the window only for me to hear a painful, bone-cracking sound
Ouch, poor him, forgot to tell him about the 10-metre deep ditch for kitchen waste. I went out to check on him and saw his right leg twisted in the most disturbing angle.
"Nemesis got me good, so could you help me again?"
"I refuse to help you unless you swear to tell me who you are"
Before I knew it, he took my tools shed as his habitat.
Back to the present
I padded softly to the tools shed with suppers leftovers, broth, bread and ham. He had long since settled in the shed and seemed comfortable but that was probably because I had become his nurse.
"Sit up, o disturbance in my life,"
He knew better than to argue so he sat up to let me look at his arm, it actually looked better than six weeks ago
"Very soon, this fracture will bond, I think it's time you finally fulfil your part of the bargain."
I calmly sat down and stared him down. To be truthful, I guess I was curious as to how he had ended up in an ill-begotten state.
"Well, it seems that you're not going to finish the healing process until I do this, so here I go..."