Talking to Strangers
An eerie silence stuck in the air like a musty smell in an attic. No one dared move, for fear of losing any alertness they had on the silent shadows. Tula had both hands attached to her children’s arms, her left clung to Arsha, and her right hand held Kuruk. She didn’t notice how hard she was squeezing until Arsha let out a little whimper.
“Mommy you're scaring me.” Her voice trembled with fear.
Tula’s heart ached hearing her daughter sound like that, “I’m sorry Arsh, you’re safe, you’re safe...“. Arsha laid her head down in Tula’s lap as she ran her hand through her soft, golden curls.
Who would’ve thought that this is how the day would end? Sitting outside, blind, next to my husband who is engulfed in a psycho tree, all the while being surrounded by nothing... but still very much something.
Tula didn’t know much about the creatures of chaos. They were rarely mentioned in the Salvator family, being considered a token of bad luck. But she did pick up some things about them from the little comments that Dason made from time to time. Tula didn’t have much belief in ‘luck’, but considering their past, they needed all the luck they could get so she never questioned Dason’s rules.
All she knew about the creatures was where the came from, what they did, and that they absolutely terrified her. They were disgusting, horrible creatures with no shape or form, but they still existed in spite of that.
Dason had once explained their nature to Tula. “Think about us, humans. There is a belief that humans are inherently good, and they strive to make things better. We see this through history from the advancements and progression that our race has made, and through the kindness that we show to others. Of course, we’re not perfect... but you get the point. Now on the other hand, the creatures of darkness are inherently bad. In our eyes they are evil.
But this is all they know, they come from a realm where they have seen nothing but chaos and cruelty, therefore they do not know how to be kind or happy. They were created without a ruler and therefore have no restraint. And to make matters worse, when they did get a leader, he was even worse than they were, so... not exactly your ideal role model. What they do, is viewed as ‘bad’ in our eyes. But to them, their behavior is ‘good and acceptable’ and we are the evil ones. Humans maintain order while they thrive in chaos. It’s only natural that we shouldn’t get along.“.
“Of course, we’re not perfect... but you get the point.”
Tula wondered if any of the dark creatures were imperfect. Meaning, not as chaotic or aggressive as the rest. Some humans were like that, but vice versa. There were select humans that could be cruel and vicious at times... so couldn’t some of the shadows be kind?
A nudge on the shoulder snapped Tula out of her deep thought. She sat still, not making any sudden moves. It was probably Kuruk, but she did want to jump to conclusions.
Tula relaxed. It was Kuruk. “Yes, son?”
“Is Father okay?” His voice was small.
She hesitated, not wanting to scare Kuruk. “I’m not sure, the best we can do is wait.”
She heard Kuruk sniffle. “Kuruk...”
Tula knit her eyebrows, “What happened? All I remember is your father telling me that you went off to practice a growing charm, and the next thing I know, the oak tree is having a seriously aggressive growth spurt. And your brief version of it from earlier does not help clear anything up at all.”
“You’re not going to like it mother.” Kuruk replied with shame in his voice.
Tula sighed in exasperation. “I already don’t like it.”
“Ok, ok, fair point.” He took a deep breath, “So basically...”
Kuruk explained everything to her, from the weird man in the ninja outfit (Tula rolled her eyes when she heard that description) all the way to Dason pushing him off the rock when Kuruk finally passed out.
The story was so unexpected that Tula didn’t even know what to say. “So... you’re telling me... that you took the advice of a random stranger because he was ‘dressed cool’.”
“Mom you should’ve seen his outfit! It was so awesome- well except for the straw hat, that was kind of a weird touch if you ask m-”
“Don’t you know that you shouldn’t ever talk to strangers?" Tula was astounded by her son’s enthusiasm at a time like this.
“No actually, I didn’t. Because until today, I’ve never MET ONE BEFORE.”
Tula made an insistent shushing noise, he was getting dangerously loud. “It’s just common sense! People cannot be trusted Kuruk, especially-”
A deep groan prevented Tula from delivering her lecture. She slowly raised her head, turning it towards the source of the sound.
“Dason!” She whispered. “Dason is that you?”
As quietly as possible, Tula rested Arsha’s now sleeping head down on the soft grass. Standing up, she reached out, blindly searching for the base of the tree trunk with her hands. She could hear Kuruk getting up behind her.
Finding a root half-submerged in the grass, Tula followed it, sliding her hands over it’s rough surface until she reached the trunk. Following her hands to the top of the wooden pillar, she hesitantly reached out, waiting to feel her husband’s soft hair.
Instead, she felt a cold, sticky liquid on her fingertips. It was followed by the dull sound of an object falling into the dirt.
A strange sort of sob escaped Tula’s throat as she clapped her hand over her mouth and fell, tumbling over Arsha’s legs and collapsing to the ground.
Squeezing her teary eyes shut, she let out soft whimper of pure heartache.
Not my Dason... my poor Dason.