Saturday, June 12, 2021

Somewhere in the dark

 Her very words were music to Milo's ears. He couldn't believe he heard her correctly. Still, she was all he needed and he wasn't even looking for her. Yes, he'd need to be in her good graces. But then again, he didn't have any friends. They were all dead or far away. Even her brother. No one could say he was even alive.

Milo longed to see him, but he couldn't think about such matters. They needed to keep moving. 

Luckily, they didn't go too far in the cave. By morning, he was certain they couldn't go back the way they came in. He'd heard voices.

"But why?" She looked at him so distressed. He put his index finger to her lips. They needed to hide.

Naturally, they must have felt their way into the darkness a third of the way before she remembered the firestick. It was quiet and he said it was time. Of course, once the light was lit, he wished they'd stayed in the dark. 

To both their surprise, there were skeletons cemented into the walls. He put his hand over ChaCha's lips before she could scream. She could not escape his embrace, and for a moment he felt as if he couldn't be here without her. He promised they would not become the pale bones and pushed on. 

"Your father's men must be looking for you," he said so quietly.

ChaCha said she didn't believe that. "Assasins in disguise."

Milo only nodded, she was probably right. Earlier, he'd led her by the forearm, but now he took her hand as if she was someone to protect. 

The climate of the cave was still cool just as the walls were smooth now and less lumpy with bones. Perhaps they were farther than most who came before them. Milo couldn't be sure if this was good or bad. Suddenly he felt a breeze, but it was warm. He stopped in his tracks and her face collided into the backside of his makeshift backpack (which was no more than a threadbare sack knotted with rope for straps).

"What is it?" ChaCha whispered.

"I dunno," Milo sighed. It was probably nothing but a dead end.

Monday, May 31, 2021

just a small favor

 "You knew my brother, Xio?" ChaCha was elated. Of course, she hadn't seen him since he'd gone to the border, years ago. He never came back.

"We have different lives now," Milo made it sound he'd been someone else and no one knew who he was now, not even himself. "I suspect he's a general." They'd only been friends learning at the academy, back in their scholar days. 

ChaCha and Milo ate the buns together. Both wished for honey, but it was filling.

Suddenly ChaCha didn't feel so frightened. Knowing Milo was a friend of her brother's.

"You wouldn't lie, or would you?" She was serious.

"What would I  have to lie about?" Milo remained even lipped as if he was after all a figment of the imagination. 

"Then..then..why did you come back?" ChaCha didn't understand.

"I never wished it. Just looking for a way out," he shrugged as he asked about what was happening now at the palace. "Did you know those people?"

ChaCha shook her head, no. But she told him there was always some sort of unrest. "Father does want to please the people."

Milo nodded. "It sounds right, but does he know who he's pleasing?"

ChaCha winced thinking so many were so greedy. It was as if they took pleasure in making others suffer. She'd seen how it was within the courtyard of the palace. Someone always making trouble. It was a vicious circle. If the queen might be having a bad day, someone might get whipped to death. One had to be careful about what they said.

"Don't make me go back," ChaCha decided she'd rather be on her own with Milo instead of being sentenced to the palace.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

a light in the darkness

 The rain began to pour. Milo only slightly sighed. Just what he needed as he looked at the night sky. They would have to take shelter in the cave.

"What I'd do for a steamed bun about now," he said under his breath as he took her hand and headed into the darkness. Not even a candle to guide him.

"What?" ChaCha sounded a bit childish or was she frightened?

"Nothing," he said quietly but his stomach spoke louder. 

"Do you think you can survive this?" Milo wanted to know, holding her close as if he might have to shield her from the cave dwellers. Although small, no one knew what they were really capable of. He'd heard stories since childhood of those embarking journeys to find treasures there only to come out ill or maybe crazy. But if they weren't out treasure hunting, perhaps they would be all right to take refuge here for the night.

ChaCha nodded as her ear was close to his chest.

"Have you always lived at the palace?" He wasn't certain of her importance.

"I think so."

In the dimness of the moonlight, a beam of light crept in. He noticed a vacancy between the boulders. Someone had made a home here not long ago. The remains of wood piled in place ready for a fire. This would have to do, but he doubted he had the energy to start it.

Yet the chill of the cave struck a thought, that if he imagined it..it was so. He put his hands out. His palms over the wood. He winced hard thinking it would possibly happen, but ChaCha struck a firestick. He looked over at her.

"You could have done that a while ago."

She only smirked and stared the fire. She'd gotten away with her runaway bag of goods. He watched her put the stick away.

"What else do you have in there?"

"I could make bread." 

She got out the jar of flour, but a little in the palm of her hand, and added drops of water. It wasn't long until it formed a dough. She rolled up a small ball for him and one for herself and put them on a small stick that hadn't burned from the fire and started to cook.

"I don't think you're a princess at all," he smiled. "I prefer wild girls, after all." He got situated to sit against a boulder with his arms crossed.

He watched her squatting near the fire turning the round bread to brown.

"Next time, it'll be your turn. You better make it good." ChaCha order almost in a pout.

Milo couldn't help but smile. Oh, he could see her brother in her even if it were a distant memory. Too bad, he wasn't here.