I’m not sure when I woke up, or even if I am awake at all. My consciousness seems to be slowly drifting in like a trickle of water, but a dull, pulsating pain on the back of my neck distracts me from any other possible lines of thought. I hear a voice, and although it sounds far away and faint, it is comforting. Straining to hear what’s being said and by whom, I make out the words, “Oh thank the moon, you’re alright!” I squint against the light, although faint, to see a man in his mid-thirties. He has a gentle smile, crow’s feet etched with the marks of happy times, and light yet steady grey eyes. His hair is up to his shoulders, curly and neatly combed, and he’s wearing a strange mix of clothes straight from the eighties and traditional catholic cleric garbs. HIs skin is very fair, and deep-colored eye bags disturb the otherwise cheerful appearance of his face.
“What’s your name, little lady?” he inquires, extending an outstretched hand to mine. I struggle to answer, for my mouth feels like it’s been stuffed with cotton and is uncomfortably dry. Somehow I’m able to, although my voice is a bit rough. “Elina.” I rasp out.
“Oh, you poor thing! Let me get you some water. I’m Jacobi, by the way.” I watch him leave the room, see the swish of the liturgical robes he’s wearing as he enters another part of the building. This prompts me to look around at where I am. The walls are that of a log cabin, dark and thick, and the floor is concrete with a couple of worn carpets strewn about. The furniture is dowdy and mismatched, with a cracking blue suede couch, antique (and a bit decrepit-looking) short dressers repurposed as tables, and log stump benches. I’m laying on the couch, which despite being possibly the worst piece of furniture (aesthetic-wise) that I have ever seen, is quite comfortable. Thin woolen blankets are piled on top of me in layers, and a cool cloth is laid against my forehead. It appears to be daytime, even though it’s hard to tell with the curtains shut and lamps on.
Just then, Jacobi enters the room again. He carries a tray of steaming broth and a bottle of aspirin. Lengthening his strides, he walks over to where I am laying down. “Can you get up by yourself?” he asks, and when I shake my head no he gently lifts my back with his large and well worn hands, then stuffs a pillow behind me to help me stay upright. He sets the tray down onto my lap, and immediately begins bringing a spoonful of soup to my mouth.
It could be poisoned, though. Where even am I? Can Jacobi be trusted? And who knocked me out last night?
I keep my mouth closed as he tries to feed me, and let out a grunt. The food smells good, salty, and it’s warm; my throat aches badly, and I wonder if perhaps a hot meal is worth the risk. Jacobi surprises me by chucking and moving the spoon towards his own mouth. “What, you think it’s poisoned?” he laughs, and his eye wrinkles crease up with a smile. He blows a bit onto the broth, careful not to let any of it spill back into the bowl, and takes a sip. “See? It’s fine. To be honest, I’m a little hurt! I’m taking care of you pretty nicely, I think, so why all the suspicion?”
I open my mouth and have some soup to clear my throat before answering, “S-sorry sir...I’m just...where am I? What happened to my head?” I reach a hand up to my hair and feel a thick bandage on it. The pounding in my temples hasn’t gone away, and it’s getting harder to stay focused on what’s happening.”Shh… calm down little one, don’t strain your voice. I found you last night, in the forest. Someone was hurting you! So naturally I stepped in and brought you here. My conscience wouldn’t let me leave you to fend for yourself.” He pauses to bring two aspirin tablets to my lips and waits until I've swallowed them to continue. “He’d really done a number on you, that bastard, gave me a real fright when I saw you lyin’ there like a dead man. Brought ya here, patched up your head, and here we are! That’s the story.”
Jacobi talks nice. His voice is peaceful, and the noises of the forest around us are serene and beautiful. “So, when can I get home?” I ask, grateful for his assistance but still missing my family. I expect a straightforward answer, but he opens his mouth and chuckles again. “We’ll see, kid, we’ll see.”