Tobih fell into one of his coughing fits, this time, accompanied by blood as well. It spattered across the shoulder of his shirt but I couldn’t find myself worried about taking it off. I was less concerned about the fact that I was now wearing blood, and more about the source of it.
“Tobih?” I called out, but he didn’t release his embrace on me.
“Don’t leave me behind.” He was still worried that I was going to make him stay here rather than come with us. While I thought it might be safer for him if he did, I knew it wasn’t what he wanted. I felt I had to respect that.
I ran my hand across his head and along his hair, “I won’t.” I wanted to assure him, for good, that I never planned on leaving him here. He had been doing so much better lately; his health seemed to be better than before. Maybe I was only seeing what he wanted me to see. Maybe he was getting better at hiding it all again.
He raised his arm as if to wipe blood from his mouth with his sleeve, only I was wearing it this time. He stopped himself, but not before loosening his grip on me. I pulled back a little and smiled at him as I wiped the blood away using his sleeve. It wasn’t like I wasn’t already wearing his blood.
A sheepish grin fell over his face and he turned around, “Sorry, Claire. I let my emotions get the better of me.” He sat down on the bank. I joined him on his right.
“Don’t ever be sorry about that, Tobih. I like that you wear your emotions on your sleeve.” He smiled a little bigger at the sound of those words.
Tobih laid back, his arms folded behind his head. He watched the lightening sky, where stars were beginning to disappear. “They’re switching shifts by now,” He said to himself.
“We should probably go back and get some sleep, you especially.” I watched as his eyes darted from star to star. He tugged at the collar of his shirt, bringing me down to the ground with him. I reluctantly made myself comfortable and lay beside him. “Or not,” I whispered to myself.
“There’s so much light in the night sky, so why is it that it’s so black?” Tobih asked.
“That… That’s actually a good question,” I said out loud as I pondered it myself. I had ideas, but it never seemed to lead up to anything worthwhile. Even though the sky was fading into blues rather than black, the question still sat on my mind.
“So this is where you two were.” Ragnvaldr walked up to us; he was fully outfitted, unlike Tobih and me.
Tobih motioned to the ground with his hand, “Join us.” Ragnvaldr obliged and sat down beside me. He leaned back and laid on the large rock that made up the bank.
The three of us sat there, staring into the sky and answering what we could of Tobih’s curious questions. Sometimes I didn’t have answers. Sometimes I did. Sometimes Ragnvaldr had the answers. Ragnvaldr didn’t question much about the shirt I was wearing, nor the blood that now stained it.
Angel crept quietly from the land behind us as the morning sun had just begun to peak over the horizon. She sat down on the other side of Tobih but seemed to have no interest in laying on the ground. “Glad to see you here.” I commented and Tobih nodded in agreement.
“There was nothing better to do,” She said in a much calmer voice than usual. She brought her legs up to her chest and watched the sunrise with us. The coolness of the morning was a breath of fresh air and I lay snug in the linen of my best friend’s shirt. Here I was between everyone that I loved, watching the night turn into day.
“We should probably be packing up to leave, soon,” Angel said when the sky turned a cold blue. She stood up; Ragnvaldr and I sat up. We all focused on the black-haired man laying on the ground. Tobih had fallen asleep.
“I nearly did the same,” I admitted and knelt down to try and wake him gently. Angel had other plans though. She stepped into the water and tossed some at him. I fell backwards to dodge the drops of water she had just thrown.
He sat up immediately and stared down Angel, “I’ll get you for that.” He said this but it came out with a yawn and was nearly unrecognizable as those words. He stood and ran to the water and decided to splash her as well. She looked offended at first, but then splashed him back. Ragnvaldr was the next to join. He took off his coat, shoes, and socks and stepped into the shallow water and threw some water my way. I jumped in soon after and got my revenge.
We all played this way, splashing one another with water only to send it towards another member when the person it was supposed to hit dodged the attack. Everyone was smiling. We were even laughing- every single one of us. It was cold, but the air around us was finally warming up.
Angel kicked an entire wave of water at someone but it managed to completely drench Tobih, Ragnvaldr, and me. I fell back into the water. I sat there and laughed, pushing wet hair out of my face. Ragnvaldr lent me a hand and I used it to get back up. “That’s about it for me,” Ragnvaldr finally called and stepped out. I nodded and followed him to the rocky surface that was the shore.
Tobih and Angel shook hands and joined us. Tobih was still chuckling as we walked back to Brackwater. Beside the grave and serious decision to go to Orr, I realized just how precious these memories we made truly were.