Chapter 5 - Broken
I woke up that next morning to see Fern’s deep, violet eyes. Then I realised we were both under the blankets. “You were shivering so much I couldn’t sleep,” she said before I could ask. Her voice made it sound like I was the problem. “So...we going to finish the roof or just stare into each other’s eyes?”
By noon, the roof was finished and the house was complete. “How does it look from down there!” I called down to Fern.
“Amazing!” I heard her reply.
“Okay! I’m coming down, hold the ladder steady!”
I slowly made my way across the roof towards the other side where I could see the tip of the ladder I had made from branches. But then I heard a low creaking like I was crawling on branches that wouldn’t support my weight for long. Which was exactly what was happening.
“Drake!” Fern called. “I don’t like the sound of that!”
“Just wait there,” I told her, trying the spread my weight to avoid plummeting down. I took a single step but my weight was too much. The branches cracked under me and the hard-packed leaves gave way. I fell straight down, landing on a table which splintered on impact.
I was faintly aware of a door being thrown open. I tried to move my head to look up and couldn’t. Two hands cradled my head and I could hear Fern. “Oh, gods! It’s going to be alright, Drake. Drake? Can you hear me? Does this hurt?”
I hissed through gritted teeth as she pressed her fingers against my leg. “Okay,” she breathed. “I know what to do for this. Let’s just get you into bed first.”
She half led, half carried me into the next room and onto the bed. “Stay here,” she ordered.
“Why?” I asked, trying for a weak smile. “I feel like going for a walk.”
Fern just scoffed and walked out. She came back with an armful of leaves and vines. “Medicinal herbs?” I asked.
“What?” she narrowed her eyes at me. “Are we all just primitives because we don’t live in the future?”
“I didn’t mean it like that...!” I started. But Fern just burst into laughter and I realised I’d been duped.
“Your face!” she laughed. Pointing at my now burning face.
“Haha,” I said sarcastically. “Very funny.”
Once she controlled herself, she went about wrapping my leg in a cast of leaves covered in moss. She did the same thing to my arm, which I didn’t realise was broken. Then she packed up her things like a professional doctor.
“Where’d you learn to do all this?” I asked her.
“As a Nature Spirit, I know all the right plants for healing,” she explained. “Just like every Naiad knows who’s in their water at any given moment.”
“What else do you know?” I asked her curiously.
“A lot of things,” she replied mystically. “Now go to sleep while I fix your mess.”
“It’s not like I...!” I realised she was joking again and pretended to grumble to myself. Fern smiled, patted my head like a dog, and left.