Tobias falls asleep on his chair, right next to Lir’s bed.
They talked. A lot. Enough for Lir to convince himself that he’ll never need to talk to him again because he’s had his fill. Of course, it doesn’t work that way, but it’ll have to, since he’s already making plans on how to leave Tobias behind.
Lir starts by moving his toes underneath warm, silk sheets. Once he gets a grasp for the feeling, he moves on to his ankles, and makes circles with them, watching, as they create creases, mountains, on top of the bed.
Then, once he is ready, he takes a deep breath, and allows his foot to touch the ground.
Lir doesn’t feel stable. He’s convinced he’ll fall again if he attempts walking for real, so he settles for crawling on his knees, which is always better and more discreet than sliding his belly along the ground like a pitiful, lost caterpillar.
The floor is colder than he’d expected as he makes his way over to his shirt and his pants, that are both hung high across a line of laundry, next to Tobias’s clothes, most of them tinted green, brown, or black.
Lir takes a deep breath; in, then out. He braces himself. He stands. His legs are still trembling, and Lir quickly snatches his belongings before he drops back down to the floor, on his knees.
Where dampness once resided in the fabrics now lies the soft feeling of dry cotton mixed with the scent of lavender. Tobias washed them, Lir realizes, surely while he was asleep.
Lir slips into his attire. He glances back once, over his shoulder, and sees Tobias has yet to rouse; his mentor probably won’t for a while. An hour ago, he had explained to Lir how worried he’d been. How he had stayed up, through the night and the day, to make sure Lir would be okay. And this is even more the reason why Lir cannot stay.
People as kind as his mentor are rare in this world. Lir needs him. But this land needs Tobias’s heart even more. He couldn’t, under any circumstances, put him at the risk of ceasing to exist.
Lir inches past a rectangular opening of stone, covered by two thick cream-colored curtains. He leaves the yurt. Outside, the sight of a fading sunset greets him. Soft, pink clouds have begun to merge with the night that threatens to swallow them whole without mercy.
Soon, they return to their original meek, shades of grey.
He hauls his limbs across the sand. His skin digs into it, itchy, and red. It occurs to Lir that he’s been doing this a lot lately—leaving people when they are asleep. Even so, the feeling that accompanies this escapade different than the last. There is no excitement for the future. Only guilt, fear, and other feelings that swarm his mind, making noise only he is able to hear, a type of sound Lir could not explain with words even if he tried.