Going Home (Going Home#1)

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Adria: Opening Up

I watch Eric play with kids like he’s been doing the last few days. He completed the sketch of the old man we saw, but Devon told us to keep it quiet.

Devon spends most of his time with us and sometimes takes us a long way back into the forest.

After the houses, the forest gets thicker, and a little further into the forest, it’s complete darkness, but people around here have lit up the forest with different colored stones. Just by the base of the mountain, they have made training grounds for people who have abilities useful for combat, but I don’t see the reason for it. Maybe they still fear the sorcerers. At the right of the mountain base, the forest goes on.

All Devon did was to find out what we both can do. It turned out I can only do mind things, change one object into another like Aura and move things around with my will. In all of these three abilities, I am at level six. Devon practically danced around when he figured everything but told us to keep it quiet. I don’t know why but he insists.

With Eric, things didn’t go that smoothly. He, too, has three abilities that completely differ from mine. He can hear sounds on a larger ground than any of us if he focuses on it. Similarly, his sight can see much further away than a normal person, and his third ability lies in his swift reflexes and body movements.

There was a lot of angry glaring and a little bit of shouting when Devon was helping him out regarding this ability. Eric, I noticed, doesn’t have self-confidence, he gets scared easily, and he gives up without trying, whereas Devon is one hell of a strict teacher.

From the little bit of the past he has mentioned, I think he can’t work around people who are strict with him, and I told this Devon yesterday, so as I expected, the training today went smoothly.

Eric said he didn’t know about hearing or seeing, but he always had sharp reflexes since he was a kid, and from this, Devon deduced that Eric was born with these abilities just like the rest of us but both of us never realized them until now.

Devon has taught what little he could in the last three days without anyone finding out what we are up to. He said that we both need to learn from the people we share the abilities with. It’s risky to trust them with this kind of information. I, for once don’t want to learn anything from Aura. I’ve been seeing her only when I go back to sleep at her place at night. I avoid saying anything to her, but I can feel her eyes boring into my skull wherever I go into her house. Eric said he feels the same. Unlike me, he doesn’t say a word for as long as we are at Aura’s place, even with Devon.

Devon and Eric share the rooms on the lower floor, while I have no choice but to share the floors with Aura. I thanked her for giving me my own space, but it’s not going well for Eric. He doesn’t talk much, but Devon keeps telling him stories. I think its because Devon can’t get along with anyone around here. He’s sharper than most of the pneumas and definitely a lot nicer as well. His only friend before Eric and me was Aylin.

The pneumas around here are really tall. All of them are over 6ft, including Eric and Devon while I’m the only short one here, and no one is fat either. It’s like looking at perfect people who have bodies like models. They have only two shades of hair; raven-black or silver, so in this case, Eric stands out with his chocolate brown hair. We also noticed that pneumas here are weird. They do everything slowly and calmly and look over at the three of us with disdain. It’s because I’m the sacrifice, and Eric is an outsider.

“It’s getting dark. Are you going to keep standing there?” Eric asks from below me. I was so engrossed in my thoughts that I didn’t notice him come towards me.

Devon asked as to train on these long beams. He asked us to learn to jump around and balance. Eric mastered it in a day, beating Devon thrice, but I am still learning to jump from one beam to another with a rope tied around my waist to hold me up if I fall fifteen ft below. I used to think I was a good fighter, but it went down the drain when I practiced on these beams. I was good at jumping around and kicking but trying to balance myself at these was harder.

“I’m hopeless on this!” I jump lamely onto the next beam.

Eric laughs below. The first time I had heard him laugh freely was when he was playing with the kids, and I had simply stared at him for it changed his face. I hadn’t been able to move my eyes away from his face, just like I stop for a moment to let that sound sink in.

I stumble and he yells, “Watch out before you kill yourself.”

I giggle, “I won’t kill myself that easily!!”
“Just get down! It’s getting dark. I have no idea where Devon is?!” He sounds concerned, and I crouch on the beams to look down at him.

“Concerned?”

“Shut up, just come down.”

I jump onto the next beam, ignoring him—only two more to go.

“He said to wait for him here!” I say as I jump again.

“But that doesn’t mean you keep jumping in the dark?” He says, worry lacing his tone. It’s strange to hear something like that for me. It’s not like Cyril didn’t worry, but he was impatient, and I was already impatient enough for both of us. With Eric, everything feels different. All I’ve known from him was concern about me, from the moment we’d met, and he’d not known who I was.

“Just one more to go then I’ll come down! Just wait up!” I say and jump again, I grin back at him as I land. He seems to have been holding his breath which he releases when he sees my grin.

From the last beam, I jump into the tree nearby and get down from the built-in ladder. Eric walks around nervously as I sit down and take a gulp from a water bottle.

“Stop worrying, he will be here.”

“He has never been this late.” Eric sits down next to me and we both face the path leading towards the houses.

“Eric, you worry a lot, you know!” I look over at him but he keeps looking ahead.

“I can’t help it.”

“Let others worry for once,” I suggest and start picking grass. Most of the time, I’ve caught myself wishing to know what goes on and on in his head.

“Then no one will worry.” He says quietly.

“I will.”

He looks at me and smiles. “Really?”

“Do you think I’m joking?” I shove him lightly and he laughs again.

“Yes, you do worry. I was kidding!”

“What do you think will happen to us?” I wonder out loud. It’s been days since I last saw everyone, I hope they’re ok.

“No idea. If Devon is asking for us to train, there’s definitely something else even he isn’t telling.” He shakes his head.

“I feel the same but I’m afraid to ask!”
“Why?” Eric asks softly, his eyes on my face.

“I feel like I will lose him too. I hate losing people.”

He smiles sadly as he looks up into the tree while I look at him. He looks sad, he has that lost expression on his face again.

“What about you? Is there anyone you’re afraid to lose?” I ask carefully. He shakes his head, “I don’t think so.”
“I’m sorry,” I whisper and start pulling out the grass absently.

“Don’t be.”

“Why you came here?” I ask curiously, for this question has been bugging me since I saw him outside Baskerville B.

“I had nowhere else to go.”
“Why?”
Now he looks over at me. “Remember, I have the arrest warrant on my head?”

“What happened?” I ask quietly, and he smiles before looking up at the tree again.

“You won’t rest until you know?”

“You know that I won’t.” I say, smiling.

“My father... turned out he was doing business based on fraud and other such things. He hid all the evidence of things he used to do in his Germany office. My sister, Verona, asked me to accompany her on the trip, and I did. She said I could enjoy around while she handles the office. I did what I was told. Later on my flight back, she told me the police is looking for me because I stole some important documents the court wanted. I had no idea what she was talking about, and at the airport, my dad called me and asked me to leave for my grandmother’s as soon as I land. I did what I was told. I escaped in disguise, and my sister covered it for me. I thought all the way up to here and till now that maybe it was planned?”

“But you didn’t do anything wrong. You could have told the police.”

“I couldn’t. Dad said they have video evidence of me stealing the papers and covering up for crimes which indirectly means I was the one behind the company frauds.”

“Oh my God.” I gape at him.

“Yeah. So you see, I’m the wanted bad guy hiding in a magical forest.” He chuckles sarcastically.

“But you are definitely better than me,” I say quietly and start playing with grass again.

“Why? What happened to you anyway?”

“My mom married a club owner when I was almost ten. He started beating both of us when I turned thirteen. I asked mom to run away but all she did was cry saying over and over again that she had no place to go”

“Why? I mean, she was an adult, and she could’ve found someplace safe for you.”

“No idea. She ran from here as well. She committed suicide when I was seventeen. I didn’t cry. I was so mad at her and still am. I don’t think so I’ll ever forgive her for doing it and leaving me behind. Her suicide didn’t stop Dawson from beating me. He never really liked me, for I wasn’t his daughter, and my mother didn’t give him any child.”

“Ouch!” Eric whispers but I carry on, still playing with the grass.

“I met a boy when I was almost sixteen. He used to follow me around and all. I ignored him for about a year or two, but I went looking for him when on my eighteenth birthday when Dawson had beaten me so much that he....he broke my rib.”

I still remember feeling like I’m dying as I ran around from house to house looking for Cyril’s. I knew his last name and knew where he lived, but I didn’t know which house was his. I remember collapsing as soon as he had opened the door.

“I gave up studies after high school. I asked Dawson to introduce me to his business, and he was overjoyed. He stopped beating after that, and I started learning every dirty secret I could about the club. Cyril, the boy I met, begged Dawson to let him work as well, but he balanced college and his job at the club, unlike me.”

“I never planned to run the club. I wanted Dawson behind the bars. It took me three years to get one of his dealers. He was secretly sending drugs in. Dawson didn’t know I was the one to get him locked up, but I think he had a hunch that I was behind this. He started keeping a tight watch on me, and instead of doing something myself, I used one of the girls and Cyril to gather the information. I didn’t tell Cyril about the girl. She was close to Dawson, so I felt that he would be least suspicious of her, and it was better if Cyril didn’t know. Before I was about to turn over the proof to the police about the other dealer, Dawson caught on. He sent men after me to stop me from getting anything from his second dealer. His men arrived right on time, and I...I didn’t know what to do.”

I start sobbing for that night, the night I killed David still haunts me. I have stopped screaming in my sleep, but the nightmares still keep me tossing and turning, and sometimes they are so worse that I can’t sleep. I killed a man, no matter how he was, I’m still a murderer. I never told anyone about what I did, but a huge part of me always wanted someone to ask what happened to me and what I did, and now that Eric asked, I can’t stop. I feel I should tell him, but I’m afraid that he will hate me after learning that I’m a murderer turn my words into sobs. I really don’t want him to hate me.

“You will hate me,” I whisper. My heart breaks at the possible outcome. I can’t lose him, too, just when we’ve started becoming friends.

“Try me.” He smiles at me.

“I murdered the guy there. I don’t know what took over me but I pulled the trigger.” I say very quietly into the dark and wait for him to stiffen up or move away from me, but he doesn’t do anything. Instead, he wraps his arm around my shoulders and pulls me into a side hug.

♡♡

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