It was unnerving...how Rosakai’s gaze seemed to see through Zephren. Rosakai cleared his throat as he let go of Zeph’s hand. “We should get inside…” he whispered, “Get some sleep.”
Zephren nodded, looking down at where Rosakai had touched him.
The wind sent Rosakai’s hair wild, cascading it into a turbulent mane. As they walked side by side back to the house, Zephren wondered how much quicker Rosakai would walk on his own with those long legs.
Entering the cabin, Zephren felt the twinge of unease as Rosakai locked the door behind them, the darkness eerily consuming the house. Being shut off from outside, Zephren once again felt his focus being drawn towards his body. The pain slowed him as they began the ascent up the staircase that was just across from the door. Though it didn’t feel like agony, Zephren still grunted; annoyed that taking one step at a time was so difficult.
Rosakai stood behind Zeph, a hand on his back as Zephren yanked himself up the railing with his only good arm, hand stinging.
Zephren felt nervous, remembering the dark staircase he had climbed out of during the bombing. There was a constant pit of dread in his stomach, wondering if Rosakai could feel his heartbeat through his back.
At the top of the stairs, there was another long hallway. Though Zephren expected to have to walk down it, to his surprise Rosakai opened the door directly in front of them. “Here you are,” he breathed, almost silently.
It was a small room with an un-boarded window; the dim light from outside stretching across the floor. The walls and floor were wooden, and the sparse room was barely big enough for the single bed, nor the small wooden chair and bedside table beside it.
Zephren turned to where Rosakai stood in the doorway, uttering, “This is where I’ll sleep?”
Rosakai nodded, “This is your room, as long as you want to stay here. My room is just at the end of the hall. The bathroom is the door to the right as you exit this one. I know you must be hungry, but, as I said, you were given some medicine to help with your pain and for the infection… I’ll get you something to eat in the morning, and we’ll get you some proper clothes as well.” He didn’t smile as he took a step back towards the hall, ducking slightly under the doorframe. “Well…good night, Zephren. Come get me if you need anything.”
Zephren swallowed. ‘Don’t leave me alone.’
“Rosakai!” Zephren whisper-shouted it, seeing the siren turn. It was the first time he had said his name out loud.
Walking back over to where Zephren stood in the middle of the room, Rosakai gave him a tight, slight smile. “You can just call me Rose…”
‘Rose…’ Zephren mulled over the name in his mind, looking at Rosakai’s face.
“Are you alright?” Rose asked, breaking the thought.
‘No.’ Zephren couldn’t admit it.
“I…” trying to think of something to say to keep him there longer, Zephren finally offered, “I didn’t mean to blame you… I know I owe you my life.” It was true. Whether or not Zeph could trust this siren going forward, up until now Rose had shown him nothing but kindness.
‘I would be dead without him, or worse.’
Rose didn’t smile as he said, “It must be difficult for you. Rest. We’ll talk more in the morning…” He stared at Zephren for a moment, sighing a little. “We’re far away from Gallery. The fire won’t reach us here, and neither will your father. I’m just down the hall, alright?”
There was a hesitation before Zephren nodded again, looking worriedly around the room as he gulped. He was so aware of his fragility, it terrified him. “Are you a light sleeper?” Zephren inquired, wondering what would happen if there was an intruder. Would Rose protect him?
Zephren saw the very corners of Rose’s mouth twitch upward. “A very light sleeper and I sleep armed.” Rose winked. His expression was concerned as asked, quietly, “Do you want me to stay?” he glanced around the room. “I could sleep in the chair if you like.”
‘You’re being ridiculous, Zephren.’
Would it really matter if someone came for him?
It was nothing Zeph hadn’t feared before, and it was a far better fear than waiting to die in that cell… At least now he had felt the outside world; felt freedom.
Zephren laughed nervously as he said, “No, don’t worry about it. I’m sure once I’m asleep I’ll be fine.” ‘Except for the nightmares,’ he thought to himself, dreading the moment he closed his eyes.
Rose nodded, stating for the final time, “Good night, Zephren.” He turned only once before he bowed out into the hall and closed the door behind him.
Alone, Zephren cautiously walked over to the window; the floor creaked as he peered out of it. He blinked up at the sky, taking in deep, slow, breaths.
From this angle, he could see the moon just barely peering out from behind the tall trees. The light made the water dully glitter, the waves licking up onto the shore. Clouds had rolled in, the moon and stars going in and out of them.
He was rather high up, looking at the thick green grass that led down to the sandy beach, where Rose and he had sat.
Zephren pulled on the small handle and cracked the window open, the wood squeaking. The air was heavy and smelled of salt and smoke. Waves tossed themselves against the shore, dragging sand and grit as they pulled back into the murky waters with a refreshing prolonged crash.
Abandoning the window, Zephren looked at the bed…
He had not slept in a bed since he was a small child; so small he could not remember it.
Tentatively, Zephren sat down, feeling himself jump a little as he dipped into the soft mattress. He stood immediately, feeling uneasy.
Instead of climbing into bed, Zephren slowly curled up on the floor, feeling comforted by this hard, familiar sensation.
Though it was still too dark to be safe, the awareness of closing his eyes and feeling his heavy tired body relax into the cool wood was enough to bring sleep.
He listened to the crashing waves and remembered the feeling of stepping outside, something he never wanted to give up or forget.
All other worries and questions subsided as he drifted into a peaceful dream, filled with the night and the siren with silver eyes.