Darkness moves in, leaving no traces of light in the sky. Mother is going to kill me for being late. I tried my best to leave on time but of course someone had to ruin it. Two days and I’ve never felt so mad, frustrated or just…out of it. I wanted to have a good day filled with meeting new people and I ended up looking at, talking to, or thinking about Maeren. And he tried to kill me! Now that I think about it, this is the second day in a row where I’ve almost died. This has to be some kind of bad luck. I squeeze the half of the arrow I have in my hand. At least I have a few days where I don’t have to think about him.
Still taking note of where I am by the lake, I start to get into familiar territory. Pale moonlight streaks through the trees, cutting the darkness in front of me. Judging by my surroundings, I’m not too far from home.
Getting my bearings, I let my mind wander. The houses, the fresh breeze from the lake, the boats, the scent of the fruits, Tziatana. I can’t wait to go back. I’m surprised I haven’t run into a tree or made myself easy prey for whatever could be out here with how dark it is further I go and how all over the place my thoughts are. Just then, because why would anything go my way today, I hear something behind me.
Surely Maeren wouldn’t follow me all the way home. Why am I thinking about him again? I look around and I hear the crunching of leaves and the snapping of twigs behind me. It has to be an animal this time. I still myself and listen. At least this time I have some type of weapon. I wait for whatever it is to strike when I see something walking into the small bit of moonlight. Coming into my view is patchy, light brown fur. I let out a relieved sigh and relax the grip on the arrow.
“What are you doing here?” I walk up to Baolarah and she rubs her head against my leg.
I look around and notice how still everything is. Did she scare everything else away? How was I only able to hear her until just now? And how did she know where I was? This wouldn’t have been the path I’d have usually taken home so how did she know to be here? Unless…
“Did you follow me today?” I ask while patting her on the head. She lets out a soft meow and licks my hand.
“Hey, I know you hear me! Did you follow me this morning?”
She keeps licking my hand and acts like she doesn’t hear me. She nudges me to keep going and is acting nicer than she was this morning. Did Mother make her follow me? Just when I thought she trusted me enough to leave home she gets Baolarah to follow me. What if someone would have seen her? They could have tried to kill her and the only people who know about her wouldn’t have been able to easily explain her away. I rub my face in aggravation.
“Let’s get home then, since you’ve been out all day too,” I groan through my hands.
We walk the rest of the way without incident with her following beside me. I slow to match her pace; she must still be out of it a little with what happened yesterday. I want to be mad at her for following me but I know it isn’t her fault. This is Mother’s fault for not trusting me to make it on my own. As soon as I get home, I’ll let her know that I’ve caught on her to schemes.
We come out of the trees and into the clearing surrounding the house. If I had made it home when promised, I know that she’d be outside working or sitting and waiting. When I get closer, the faint glow from the rocks softly illuminates the area around the clearing. Baolarah goes ahead through the rocks and scratches on the doors. Shortly after, Mother comes outside and sees me standing there, just beyond the circle of rocks.
“Where have you been? I’ve been worried sick about you! I even sent Baolarah to look for you.”
She touches the rocks and comes out to hug me. She puts her arm around mine and leads me back toward the house.
“How come she gets to go in and out of the rocks but I can’t?” Every time I leave or come back without paying them attention, it feels like I’m running into a wall.
“Because I don’t have to worry about when she’ll come back when she leaves. Now what took you so long?”
“I got held up by you know who and I know that you didn’t just send her to look for me,” I look over to the big scaredy cat who’s curled up on the ground with her back to me. Figures.
She stops and looks up at me. It’s obvious that she’s shocked I found out.
“Come on, let’s go inside so I can tell you about my day,” I don’t give her time to say anything as I now take her by the arm, opening the door to go inside.
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