I'm hanging out on my seat outside of my tent, tired from last night. I notice the group of Mel, Fend, Alto, Arick, and Ithin walking by to go gather herbs and plants. I'm kind of disappointed to not see Luna among them, but I'm also aware that she's probably not wanting to talk with us right now because of what's happened recently. I'm glad to see that our group is, for the most part, all doing things that will bring them closer. I think it’s really important that we help each other out, and it’s also important that we can joke around and do things collaboratively in order for us to grow and connect. We never had proper families to begin with, and because of that, it’s important that we can care for each other, to be that family that we never had. These connections are what make up our lives today, and it’s important that we cultivate them to make them stronger and stronger. That includes overcoming when it’s really tough to do. I am really glad that we’re able to rely on each other like this, and that we’ve got each other’s backs in times of need…
Oh! A familiar voice snaps me out of my reverie, and I see my best friend, Rex, walking over to me.
“Hey Rex, what’s up?” I ask. “I saw Alto walking with the group to pick plants, has he washed his clothes yet? They’re starting to look pretty mucky.”
“Ha ha, not yet, he’s so bad when it comes to that." He says as he sits down on a patch of grass next to me. "Plus, the only ones who are going to really care are going to be you or me. I’m not too stressed about it but…” He gives me a dramatic sigh and a grin, “Everyone knows to not mess with Momma Shei…”
“Oh shush, you know I just want things to look nice.” I look up at him. “I know I can be a bit of a stickler when it comes to things like this. I’m trying to be more lenient, but it’s really unhealthy to wear the same things too many times in a row without washing them.”
“Pff, that’s just like you to look out for all of us. Hey though”, he suddenly gets serious. “I wanted to check in with you. You took Luna’s cuts yesterday, how are those doing?”
Wait, what? Not “healed”, but “took”? Yeah, that’s my ability. I can heal others by literally taking their wounds onto my own body, but not as severe. I heal quickly too, which lets me take on more people's injuries at once. While my taking on so many injuries has numbed a lot of my nerve endings, it doesn’t mean they don’t hurt. Plus, I’ve got lasting damage because of it… Anyways. Last night, Luna had hurt herself yesterday. I hate seeing her like that without wanting to help, but I don’t really know how to approach her, because pushing people when they're not ready to talk just creates resentment in the long run.
“I’m ok, I guess" I reply, leaning back against the back of my tent. "Do you think we can do anything about it? She can’t keep on doing this! It hurts her, it bothers us, and it damages our relationship! It’s scary to know that she’s doing it, especially when we don’t know why!” I can feel myself getting upset. “It messes with her head, and makes it seem to us like we can’t do anything to help! This just isolates her even more!”
“But hurts you the most, right?" Rex calmly asks me. “More than anyone else here.”
“What do you mean? I heal fast, this is nothing in comparison to what has happened before.”
“Regardless,” Rex presses on, “It’s still pain, you’re still getting hurt. Besides, it’s also clearly been something that’s been weighing on you for a while, so it’s taking an emotional toll on you as well! Talking to the others, they bring it up of course, but you're the only one who is willing to tackle this issue. Luna hasn't been with us long enough for us to get to know her, which turns off the others, but not you. You're still caring for her, despite not knowing anything about her.” He gives me a look of admiration that I don't feel I deserve. "That's cool, Shei, that's really cool." He says. "I'm trying to get to that point where I can dedicate myself to taking care of a complete stranger like you. I ain't there yet, but I feel like if I spend more time observing you, I'll get there some day."
Frickle. Nothing like some cold, hard logic to take you out of a heated rant. That’s what Rex is able to do for me though. He’s the one who’s able to bring me down whenever I’m heated up like this. If he wasn’t there… No, I don’t want to think that. He means too much to me.
“Ugh, fine." I say, "We need to bring this up in Evening Gathering tonight though, or one of us is going to have to bring it directly to her. This crapola can’t continue.”
“Yes, let’s do that. Do you think you’re able to bring it up to her?” Rex asks. “We really shouldn’t put her on the spot again, especially given the situation.”
“Yeah.” I give him a nod. “I think I know what I’m going to do…” He gives me a thumbs up.
“You got this. And even if you don’t got this, then I’m sure you’ll figure something out.” He hits me with his goofy grin. Gosh…
“Rex?” I say quietly.
“Hmm?” He raises his eyebrows at me.
“...Thanks. Thanks for now, thanks for everything. I guess I never really say it enough, but I really appreciate you, y'know?” And I don’t say it enough. He’s been there for me through thick and thin. Yet here I am acknowledging it for the first time in… weeks.
“Hey, that’s what friends are for.” He gives me a shrug. “They’re there for each other, isn’t that what you always say?” He asks. I smile back. “You know what friends are also for?” he suddenly asks.
“What?” I ask, expecting some cheesy line.
“Welllll”, he says, pulling out something from his pocket. “Fend and the others found some stuff at the river bed…” Judging from the look on his face, all of a sudden I know where this is going. And I’m very happy about it.
“Oh wow, when did they find this… this natural gift???” This wonder of nature, this gift of the gods, these… mint leaves. Their soothing scent was one of the first things that we discovered when we escaped into the wild, and because of that, that's always able to bring me back to that first feeling of freedom.
“Thanks..!” I start, jumping up in excitement. Ouch! I think I reopened my wounds… Hopefully Rex didn’t notice… what am I saying? Of course he noticed, Rex notices everything about me. Sure enough…
“Oi” he says, a look of concern coming over his face. “Don’t try and pretend like I didn’t see that.”
“What are you talking about?” I start to say, but I know there’s no point in hiding it. Sigh.
“Mmm." He says, noticing my acknowledging what needs to be done. "I’ll be back with some more bandages from Fend. Wait here, ok? I’ll be back soon.”
“Thanks”, I reply, as he hurries off. I let out a small sigh. I have to wait, Rex. You know I can’t move quickly, remember? Not since my bastard of a father snapped my leg bone clean in two…