I shrugged my shoulders as I waded into the shallows and noted the way the diminishing day reflected in Neal's deep, amber eyes. "Fish weren't biting." I dipped down and flicked a handful of water at him, chuckling loudly when he shrieked and hopped out of the way. The dry sand clamped upon my legs and skirt, soaking up the water, as I grabbed the pail and strode by Neal, letting him trail after me.
"Whatever could you mean?" I feigned innocence and picked at the low hanging branches as we walked through the trees. The shoreline I went to every day was the farthest south Trekfort went; I came here so often there was a worn down path made into the dirt. The forest was difficult to navigate, myself and Neal frequenting enough we could travel through with our eyes closed.
"I know how much time you spend watching the sea."
"I hope your statement has a purpose." I shifted my hip back to this, though I had to lift myself higher to do so, Neal was much taller than me, the top of my head met his chin. He pursed his already thin lips, making them nearly invisible and tugged the bucket out of my hand.
"My point, dear Nik, is that I know you. The days you spend lost in the waves are when you catch," he lifted the bucket close to my face for emphasis, "only clams." I shoved his shoulder, though he barely moved. Neal was thin, but his muscles had strong definition and I was unable to budge him. This was largely due to the fact that Neal was the oldest of five children. His family lived in the necessitous part of the village, far to the northwest where the Hold was located. Each household was worse off than the next, something I often brought to my father's attention, though he showed little interest.
Neal was eighteen, a great deal older than the next child at six; the heavy duty responsibilities fell upon him. He could usually be found outside, chopping wood, and that was where our paths would cross on my way to meet Tusk each day. Today was a pleasant surprise, he must have finished his work early. "Clams are fine. Tusk will take what I give her."
"Please let me be present when you tell her that." I rolled my eyes at his comment, but made a point not to tell him that I would never say that to her. I'd rather defy my father against his dying breath than go head to head with Tusk.