Her fingers grew colder with each second, becoming more stiff. June hated the cold. There were few acceptable times like when she was going to sleep, having a cold pillow or when she stuck one foot from beneath her covers. It was funny because Arizona was just that during winter. Freezing cold.
Despite having been raised there, when her bachelor in architecture was officially handed to her, she couldn't seem to leave. Everything she had and needed was there. Her parents, friends, and an incredible job opportunity she most likely wouldn't have been able to find if she had left. Maybe it was also the fact that her career allowed her to work inside for the most part. The only work related times she had to go out in the winter were when she inspected the property she would design a build and when she had to visit her collaborators on the projects such as public authorities and constructors.
Another breeze entered the cave and she left out a few French curses. She smacked and rubbed the two rocks in her hands. It was the final step and the most annoying in her opinion. "Come on! Work with me!" June spoke through chattering teeth.
Rubbing the rocks again, a spark emitted. The wood June had piled for the pit began to smoke. "Yes!" She put her hands around the area where the fire would begin and gently blew on it. Bright orange began to spread and within seconds a fire burned.
A squeal left her lips. "Yes! Okay, warm me up baby." She held her hands up to the flames. First her palms. When they were warm enough, she turned her hands and offered the back of them.
She had then remembered of her traveling companion. "Did you see that, Kargon? I did it! I—"
Her eyes found no trace of the alien. She looked around for his things. The sac he had taken was still with its owner. Everything else they had collected during their journey was left in the cave. Her voice came through once more, only gentler. "Kargon?"
June couldn't recall when she had fallen asleep. She remembered tidying up their supplies for when they would leave come morning. Kargon hadn't returned either. It never took him this long to collect supplies, especially when they didn't need much to stock up.
Where are you, Kargon?
"Maybe the supplies were farther than Kargon expected." No, Kargon even said that hunting for supplies at night was dangerous, even for him. "Or he had to take a different route." Again, still dangerous to be out at night.
June thought of every possible reason as to why Kargon hadn't returned. Anything to avoid thinking that something horrible happened to him.
And then it hit her.
"What if he's in another cave?" She raised her brows. "He could be. It's the most logical reason. He knows the dangers that lurk better than I do. His best option was to find a cave and wait till daylight to come back."
He had to be. Who else would guide June through the foreign planet? She had the chance to reunite with humans and she gave that up to be with a native. Nothing could've happened to him. June wouldn't accept it. Sure she learned a few things from Kargon, but it wasn't enough. One wrong move and she could die tomorrow. She needed Kargon for her survival.
At least that's what she told herself.
But June knew that a small part of her didn't see him as just a means for survival. He was her friend, or at least she masked it over what she actually felt. She wanted to be Kargon's friend because that was as far as things would go between them. And that small part of her that wanted more continued to grow each day.
However, June wouldn't do anything to change how things were between her and the alien. She could dream it was different, deny her feelings the moment she would wake from slumber, and that was enough.
The crunch of dried leaves had her snap her gaze to the entrance of the cave. Her hand instinctively brought her dagger before her. Rustling leaves land branches followed. June tightened her grip and kept her gaze trained forward.
And then, violet met green.
"Kargon!" A breath left her lips before she smiled. June stood, the cold nonexistent. "I'm glad you're back. I was worried something might've happened . . ." She drew in her brows. "Where are the supplies?"
Kargon was back—unharmed from what June saw—but all he carried were the things he took with him. "Did something happen?" She asked.
Making his way further inside, Kargon reached his pouch, or at least that what June thought before she saw his hand remove a smaller one that hid behind the one he always carried. Stretching his hand to her, June grabbed pouch and immediately inspected its contents.
She held one between her thumb and pointer finger. Inside the bag there were multiple red tiny oval shaped berries, June guessed.
Kargon proved her assumption to be correct by stating it was food. Without further thought, she threw one into her mouth. June involuntarily puckered her lips upon biting down on it. The outer layer was sweet, but when the juice from the berry tasted tart.
"Wow that's sour."
"Aplins," Kargon said. He pointed to the bag she held when he saw her frown.
"Ah-pleens," June repeated. Kargon nodded.
"Thank you," she smiled at him. She extended the open pouch to him. "I don't think I'll be able to eat all of these as good as they are."
Kargon grabbed a couple and threw them all in his mouth. June stated at him with wide eyes, watching his reaction. He chewed the berries as if they had no taste to them. June wondered what they tasted to Kargon, but didn’t ask, knowing he’d have difficulty understanding what she was asking and being unable to answer.
She wanted to ask again what had happened while Kargon was searching for supplies. For a moment she thought he was no longer being distant with her, but that might’ve been because of whatever it was he was thinking. As June slowly ate her berries, Kargon went straight to his mat. He laid his arm over his eyes and took a deep breath.
“Where are we going tomorrow?”
“Ee-nu-eh.” With a nod she settled into her own resting place. June wished him a goodnight in English to wish he returned in his native language.
When morning came, June was overly excited for their next adventure. Kargon’s mood remained the same as it had since he came back. Tired. Quiet. Lost in his thoughts.
They grabbed their things and resumed their journey.
They walked for miles. While June followed Kargon, she watched her step. The longer she spent in the foreign planet, the more she got used to it. She was adapting to a new way of living. Her body was changing. Slowly, but changing. The soles of her feet grew tougher, her thighs ticker, and her muscles toned.
Each day, she was closer to accepting her new fate.
When she noticed Kargon’s steps slow, hers did too until they both came to a stop.
June was about to move to Kargon’s side, when a voice came from afar. Only it wasn’t English they spoke. It was Kargon’s native language. Frozen in place, she was unable to see past the giant before her. She noticed his back muscles tense as he repeated the phrase out loud.
“Where are we, Kargon?”
June realized that’s what it had meant.