In the After

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A Meal and a Bath

Tatum was gone when I made it back to the family room. Cara said he was talking with their mother about me. She wasn’t too worried about me saying I would be safe here nor did she seem to fear me in fact, she wasted no time in putting me to work. While she went outside to made dinner, I was left in charge of the kids. Jimmy was walking around the room with a stuffed bear that babbling in the unknown baby language. While I was playing with Rainy, he would over to touch my hair or just staring at my eyes. I would take his hand clapping them together reciting old nursery rhythms.

Rainy is playing a game where the male doll has to build a cottage for the female doll before they can get married. The male doll was using a carved block to build a cottage while the female dolls are on a mini-loom pretend weaving. “Do ya have toys where ya comes from?”

Looking at the doll I nod. “Yep, they aren’t made of wood like this doll.”

“What they be made of?”

“Fish bone.” This doll is very well made the wooden with carved arms and legs that move. On Trigg our dolls are made of fish bone, every few year's whale pods will come through. We don’t kill them all just the old or weak ones. We also have video games to play on at home than when we were old enough on Tablets. And, books to read and models to build I would to that with my grandfather.

“Did ya have someone to play with you?”

“I have a sister, she looks just like me.”

Jimmy wobbles over I turn to face him making a funny face that causes him to giggle. Then he just stares in my eyes. Touching each of them, he knew that they weren’t normal. Rainy asks the question. “Why are ya eyes so different?”

“It’s just the way I was born, my sister has it too. When we’re little, our parents would tell a story about it.”

That gets her attention. “Tell me the story.”

That might not be the best idea, here a cute story might be taken as truth. “Umm.”

“Do ya hear that?”

I hear Jimmy trying to talk. “I don’t think so.”

Her eyes light up. “Daddy.”

The front door opens and the little girl is gone in a flash. Jimmy babbles tugging my hair, I wink at him. Standing up I hear a deep male voice say. “Hyia, sweet thing.”

Jimmy shirks at me holding his arms open. He wants to be picked up, leaning down I pull him up on my hip so he can again look at my eyes. Most kids on Trig would do the same thing now if I didn’t like kids that would be a problem. But, I do love kids, they see the world differently and accept things more easily than adults.

“Would that be our Jimmy?” The deep voice asks.

Rainy’s giggles. “That be Jimmy buts it ain’t Mama holdin him.”

The man that Rainy calls father is tan from working outside, with a brown hair and blues that light up when his daughter is in his arms. “Who be you?”

“I’m Delia.”

He doesn’t seem happy his eyes that were filled with joy now comuitcate a fine rage. Since I am a stranger, a very strange stranger, holding his son he’s understandably upset. “Why you holdin my child?”

“’Cause he wants to be held Daddy.”

Now I was thinking that but, I wasn’t going to say it and now that she’s said I just laugh he raises and a questioning eyebrow. “What? It’s a good answer.”

“Thank ya.” Rainy says as her father sets her down. “Ya be the sea witch Tatum brought back.”

“I’m not a witch.” I tell him putting the child down.

“Granny say she gots to stay here with us, she made Tatum her guardian.”

He wants to say something but thankfully Cara comes in. “Thought I be hear’n you.” They kiss in a scene that reminds me of my parents. She turns to me. “See ya meet my husband. Dylan this be Delia.”

The table that I saw was indeed for eating Rainy cleaned up her toys while her father put the table in the middle of the room. I held on Jimmy keeping him out of the way while Cara brought in dinner. All of the food here looks good, carrots, onions, cucumbers, in wooden bowls beautifully carved. Next she brings in a loaf of fresh bread. Lastly there is large bowl of meat in a thin broth.

“Come on child sit down and eat.” Cara says taking the baby from me.

“What is this meat?” I ask sitting down.

“Cow.” Rainy says smiling as she pass out larger soup bowls. Looking at the strange kind of meat, I’m use to fish on very special occasions chicken. We don’t have those animals those on my ship mostly we get the byproducts of them, eggs and wool. “Ain’t ya ever had any?”

Dylan takes the ladle pouring some of the soup meat and broth in my bowl. “No.”

“Never?” Cara asks adding bits of vegetables into her bowl.

“Well, cattle is needs land and lots of food.” The ships are big but not that big also they need lots of grain. We needed grain for ourselves, chickens they eat scraps of corn or grain we get eggs and feathers out of the deal. “It just not logical to produce cattle.”

Rainey sits close by my side. “Well, ya like it I knows ya will.”

I watch as Cara bits off little bits of meat for Jimmy whose sitting between her and Dylan happily munching on carrots. Rainy is adding bits of this and that to my bowl. Dylan is whispering something into Cara’s ear making her smile. This all seems so normal, I thinking that I would a people barely surviving by eating each other, raping and killing like in every story I’ve ever heard.

The child tugs at my arm. “It be ready for ya to eat.”

I smile at her taking the wooden spoon. “Thank you.” Taking my first bit of beef I can’t really describe it. The most I can say is that it doesn’t taste anything like fish or chicken. The outside is dark brown but inside is more a lighter brown with just a hint of pink. Added the fact I haven’t eaten since in two days it’s the best.

(*)(*)(*)

After dinner Jimmy is taken into Cara’s and put to bed the baby went is and what came out were mirrors. The room itself was designed to use the natural light, the windows caught the sunlight lit the room during the day. Now that the sun was down the windows were covered with thick curtains. Then Dylan hung a lantern from a hook celling, while Cara place old fashion mirrors over the windows. Between the lantern and the fireplace the light reflects off the surfaces making the room bright.

“This is brilliant.”

Dylan who was sitting on the floor taking out a large block of wood and a knife he begins whittling. “What?”

“This room using the mirrors and lanterns to create light.”

Rainy laughs. “This be how every house is.”

“Don’t cha ya have this where you come from?”

Sitting down I pull my pack from the conor, Tatum left it here and I need to plan my route if I ever get to leave. “Not like this where I come from we have electric light.”

“Like in the olden days.” Rainy says.

I nod, taking the map out of my pack. The paper made showed the whole state of Maryland it was given to me just in case I needed to find my way on land. Dylan moves closer to me to see the map. “This be the Earth.”

“No, this is the State we’re.”

“What’s a state?” Rainy ask from her place on the floor.

I sigh her parent what to know to. “Before and your parents and maybe even your grandparents there was place a country. This village was a part of that country called America. America was made up of states, there were fifty of them this island was part a state called Maryland.” Point to the island I go on. “This right here is your island.”

“And everything else?”

“That’s Maryland.” I trace the outline of the state. “Now I am here.” I point to the island. “And, I need to be here.” I say pointing to the city.”

I study the map there’s a bright that could get me to Annapolis. “This bridge here is it still standing?” If it is my trip by a hundred miles.

Dylan shakes his head. “No, that bridge be gone blown up years ago back when my grandmother be littler then Rainy. There be a warning people there too they’d kill ya as soon as they see ya.”

Running my hands through my hair I sigh. “What about a boat do you have any of those here? I can sail.”

“You’d be askin’ the chief bout that.”

I guess I should ask since. “Should I even be plaining this or are you people going to keep me here forever or just kill me?”

“My Mother be speaken’ to the elders bout you.” Cara says, she’s trying to comfort me, it’s working to an extent.

But, but I have my mission I need to get to the city. “Why not just kill me than? I mean people here seem so afraid of me.”

Cara shakes her head. “We don’t be killn’ innocents here.”

Right just kidnapping them off the beach. “But. There’s always a but.”

Dylan nods. “But, we’ll be we know why ya here and iffien ya ain’t a threat to us we’ll be lettin’ ya go.”

I look back at the map, I know where I am and where I need to be getting there that will be the problem. Since I have one hundred plus miles to go no real training at all and definatly no friends to help me I just fold the map and lay down on the floor.

Cara trys to reassure me. “It’s very unlikely they’ll be killn’ ya just banisheing ya.”

“Well, that’s good since I didn’t want to be here in the first place.”

This horrifies Rainy. “Ya wants to be out in the wild with no people to be help’n ya?”

Turing to face the child I smile. “I have people there just very far away.”

(*)(*)(*)

Weather it was a full stomach or just my body finally use to dry land but slept through the night. All too soon I was waking-up to the strange sounds of the village waking. Mostly it was odd sounds of roosters. Sitting up I look around, in the doorway Rainy is watching me. “Morning.”

I yawn. “Is anyone else up?”

“Yes, Mama already be making breakfast outside and Daddy he be gettin water for ya bath.”

The words bath wake me up. “A bath?”

The girl nods. “Granny be talkin with ya today and ya kinda smell.”

I can’t disagree I smell like day old seaweed and sweat, a bath sounds really great right now. Standing up I starch my arms breathing in the strange smell of Dry land. The pine trees mix’s with smoke, and animals. The smell isn’t unpleasant in fact the worst thing right now is me. Smelling my shirt I smell like dead fish, grease, and unwashed skin.

Rainy takes my hand leading me into the bright morning. Cara is stirring some kind of pot of grain. There is table set up four places to eat, Dylan is adding wood to the hole in the ground. The fire is heating a real tub of warm water. A bath is inviting to say the least, I don’t to take my clothes off. Being naked is awkward enough add to the fact that I barely know these people. I never thought that this would happen.

Dylan test the water finding it at an acceptable temperature he takes four large polls and pushes them into the ground. He then takes a long piece of cloth and wraps it around the poles so that I will have some privacy. This is all done in a practiced way that says they’ve done it before.

He looks at me then at the tub tent. “Ya gonna get in?”

I nod. “Thank you.”

Inside the tent I strip off my cloths they don’t stick too much. Testing the water its really warm. Stepping into the tub I moan in pleasure this is great I haven’t had a bath in a tub in ever really. We did have our own bathrooms but tubs are big and would take up space so we had showers. When we were babies it was the bathroom sink. This is great laying out to my full length I sink deeper till I’m under water.

Cara peaks through the curtain. “Here I brought ya some soaps and a towel.”

“Thank you.” I say taking the clean clothes and the tiny disk of soap it smells good not like the unscented stuff we have on Trig. Washing my body in notice the water change from clear to gray. Being clean for the first time in days it only makes me surer that I won’t die. Drying off I put on the clothes they are clean to and like everything else they smell like nature too.

The pants are made of a soft leather that almost me, they must belong to Cara. I find a length of rope braided into a belt. It hold the pants up beautifully. The shirt is more tunic style dyed a dull gray. It marks me as different everyone else has more colorful clothing. The idea of standing out ever more isn’t ideal but I’ll take clean over my dirty ones. The socks allow me to put my boots back on. This is great most of the woman here are either barefoot like Rainy or were thin sandals like Cara.

Steping out from the tent Rainy smiles at me. “Ya looks very pretty.”

I feel the redness on my cheeks. “Thank you.”

“Ya might be lookin like one of us, ya don’t be sound’n like us.” Dylan remarks, looking rather pleased with himself.

“I’m not one of you I’m me I have my own people and place that I need to get back too.”

“I’s don’t want ya to leave. Ya can stay here and be Tatum’s wife.” Rainy says matter of factly leading me to the table.

Cara shh’s her daughter. “That’s not our choice to be makin’.”

“Who does say when I can leave?” Clearly I can’t leave on my own while Cara and Dylan are being very gracious host but I know I’m a prisoner here. If I try leave they’ll kill me, if this was reversed the same thing would happen.

“Nana, she be our leader an after we be done eaten Unlca Tatum be taken ya to her and elders.”


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