The Way of the Word

18. October 2010

The Gatherers – Chapter 29

Ghenni shivered and rubbed her exposed arms. She was cold. She felt stiff. She hurt all over.

She sat up and rubbed her eyes.

I will never, ever again spend a night on naked rock in a cold, wet cave, she vowed silently as she moved her shoulders to ease the pain. It didn’t work.

“So here you are,” she heard a cheerful voice. She turned. Miki stood in the cave’s mouth, holding a woven basket. It was covered with colorful cloth. “I hoped the crystal would show me the way. So I asked it, and what do you know, it really did.”

Miki came closer. She set the basket down on the rock beside Ghenni. Removing the cloth, she revealed bananas, pineapples, mango and kiwi. Ghenni swallowed. Her belly growled. Licking her lips, she made her choice. She quickly devoured a banana to shut her belly up.

“How’s things at home?” she asked between mouthfuls.

“Not good,” Miki said, bowing her head. “Elomei has spent the night with Lejani. It sounded like she was using every spell she knew. I don’t think it worked, though. At least she didn’t give up. That’s the good news.”

Uh-oh.

“What, then, is the bad news?”

“Your mother. Your father found her this morning. She’s just like your sister. She coughs, she sniffles, and she has those funny splotches all over her body. Elomei thinks she caught the evil spirits from your sister, so they put them together in the same hut. Elomei has doubled her efforts to heal them both.”

“Mom too…” Ghenni remembered thinking her mother’s watery eyes and sniffles came from crying so much over Lejani’s disease. Well, probably at least partially, but obviously not entirely. “Oh no.” If Elomei couldn’t even help the crab, what good could she do with two people to cure? “What am I gonna do now?” she muttered.

“Perhaps Habbassin knows a spell…” Miki suggested. Ghenni nodded.

“That’s where I’d planned to go yesterday, but somebody was following me.”

“So who’s more important, your family or Habbassin?”

Ghenni gave Miki a blank look.

“You know, I haven’t really thought of it that way,” she said slowly. “I’ve always only thought of our obligation to our friend.”

“I think family is more important than friends.”

“Depends on your family, doesn’t it? For example, if Bolwyn or Terek were your family…”

“Yuck. Still. Family is the most important thing.”

Ghenni nodded, slowly.

“You’re right of course. I mean, look at Zoltan. He’s a mean creep, but his family love him.” She felt the corners of her mouth twitch. “At least I think they do.”

“So what are you going to do now?”

“What I’d planned all along,” Ghenni said, standing up. “I’m going to Habbassin. I’ll ask for his help for mom and the crab. I don’t think Terek is still looking for me, is he? Or has he followed you?” Miki shook her head no. “Good. Then what’s keeping us here?” Ghenni rubbed her left shoulder, hoping to knead the kinks out. It didn’t help. “Perhaps he can help me too, while he’s at it.”

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