I woke up the next morning to see Alyvia sitting down beside the fire. She looked up at me from a pot she had simmering over the flames and smiled. “Why hello there, sleepy head,” she said, “how was your night?” The previous night began to play over in my head. Alyvia was crying, I went to comfort her, I drifted off to sleep…then I remember something waking me up.
“I must have drifted off to sleep during my watch…” I replied.
“Ohh there’s no must of to it, you were out like the sun at night,” Alyvia laughed softly, “in fact, your snoring woke me up for my watch.”
I smiled at her, “Well I do apologize for interrupting your beauty rest, but to be honest, you don’t really need it.” The courage of my own remark surprised me. Of course I found Alyvia beautiful, but the last thing that either of us needed right now was for our hearts to complicate matters. We needed to survive.
I quickly tried to change the topic. “So what do you have cooking over there?”
Alyvia looked up from the pot again with a playful look in her eye. “Why don’t you come over here and see for yourself, sleepy head?” Still groggy I pushed myself up off the ground and walked over to her.
When I bent down to look in the pot Alyvia grabbed me around the waist and pulled me down on top of her. “Alyvia, uhh, what…”
“Be quiet for a minute, Greyson,” she whispered. “Ever since that night you’ve been here with me. Every night you’ve comforted me, every day you’ve given me a reason to wake up and go on. I love you, Greyson.” I pulled back a little and looked at Alyvia. She had that same playful look in her eye, but they were also brimming with tears. She pulled my back into her and whispered in my ear, “you’re all I have left.”
With that she pulled my head towards her and our lips met. When they met I was bombarded with indescribable feelings. I thought this girl was beautiful before, but I thought that was it. Sure, I believed I was falling in love with her, but that moment proved it. When her lips, so sweet and soft, met mine, I knew I would do anything for this girl. I would go to the ends of the land, I would wrestle the moon, I would die for her if I had to.
Then something happened. Alyvia’s lips went from soft to rough. Her taste went from sweet to bitter. I opened my eyes to see what was wrong and I was met with splitting pain behind my eyeballs. I cried out in pain and in shock. I felt around for Alyvia, but my desperate hands were only met with leaves and dirt.
The events of last night came crashing into my memory like a star falling from the heavens. I had indeed fallen asleep during my watch, then a rustling woke me, I heard Alyvia scream, and then all was black again. Once the memory came back to me I was furious.
In a fit of rage I attempted to get up off the ground quickly, but as soon as I hit my feet and took a couple steps I realized my error. The world began to swim around me and I lurched forward onto my face again. My rage soon dissipated when pain shot from behind my eyes again, but this time I just gritted my teeth against it just incase our visitors from last night were still around.
My pain gave way to fury once again and I felt hot, angry tears begin to fall from the corners of my eyes. I reached up to wipe them away and felt something sticky on my face. I pulled my hand away and seen that it was covered in blood. I put my hand back up to my head and began to feel around for any signs of damage like my mother had taught me to do. “I’m not always going to be around to take care of you Greyson, so you’re going to have to learn how to take care of yourself,” I could picture her now wagging her finger at me. I smiled to myself, finding that the rage had left me once again.
On the back of my head a found a lump and I could feel a slight cut in it, which would explain the headache and all the bleeding. I quickly tried recalling some facts to tell if the injury was really serious or not. Once I was satisfied that there wasn’t any permanent damage I slowly got up to my feet. The world began to swim a little, but I held my balance long enough that it just appeared to be tipping. I stumbled over to a stump to sit down so I could look around the camp and see what I needed to do next.
Alyvia was gone, as was all our water, food, and blankets. To keep from losing my temper at the unfairness of it all I decided to concentrate on the things I needed to do immediately. Thinking was hard to do with an ear splitting headache so I decided that the first thing I needed to do was to find some eldroot. I remembered my mother’s nagging finger once again, “Eldroot is easily found in the forest. Look for damp, shaded areas and you’ll most always come by some. Now what all can it help with Greyson?”
I ticked off the list in my head, pain, stiffness, soreness, and it can also be used as a healing paste if mashed up and combined with a small bit of water. “What ways can you take it?” I heard my mother ask in my head. Once again I went over the list in my head. If at all possible you should combine it with a fruity tea to mask the bitter taste, this will lessen the effect but it will taste a whole lot better. If that’s not an option, brew it straight into a tea, it’ll be strong and bitter, but go to work on the ailment quicker. If neither of those options is available, just chew on the root. It will be gritty and bitter, but it is better than nothing in a pinch.
By the time I had went over the curative properties and preparations in my head I had found a spot in the forest that was well shaded by the trees and where my foot would slightly sink into the ground when I stepped on it. I got down on my knees and began to dig, and before long I had found a nice stash of eldroot. I pulled it up and was about to put the dirty root in my mouth when I heard the sound of running water near by.
I walked toward the sound and found myself on the bank of a creek so small that I could leap across it if I wanted to. The water was crisp and clear. First I dipped my hands and washed my blood and the dirt away. Then I cleaned the eldroot and broke off part of the root to begin chewing on. I saved some of it to try and make a paste later, but right now I had to focus on more important things.
Now that my head was somewhat clear and I could think a little more clearly, I went back to the camp and looked around a little more carefully. The thieves had been pretty thorough though. All I was able to find was my small knife that must have been knocked into the dirt by Alyvia’s thrashing, and a small bowl.
Although these things may seem small and meaningless, to a boy who’d lost everything, they were precious. I made my way back to the stream and decided to walk down it to clear my mind further and to get a better bearing of my surroundings.
Looking back at that time in my life I realize how calm I must have seemed, even to myself. Little did I know that I was just experiencing the calm before the tempest that would soon consume me.
- Greyson: Hunting Pt. 1 (writinggamez.wordpress.com)