15 July, 2012
15 July 2012
Morning slipped on towards afternoon, Will spending an usual portion of it wide awake and talking to Einar in the wordless but nonetheless fascinating language by which most small humans come to discover and perfect the various aspects of thir voice, practice sounds and prepare for the communication that will come later. Einar, for his part, listened intently, sure he could by unbroken concentration and a bit of creative interpretation come to understand the little fellow's meaning. Liz, quite happy to see them interacting in that way, was almost disappointed when the time came for Will's nap, but with the little fellow becoming squirmy and fussy and having a hard time keeping his eyes open, there was no denying that the time had come for him to sleep.
Will quiet in his bed of furs, Einar seemed to be growing increasingly quiet also, brooding as the day went on; Liz caught him more than once staring at the wall as if seeing right through it, and though at first she took it as mere weariness, the inevitable result of his untimely trapline run and return climb, there was obviously something more going on. Not that this was anything out of the ordinary, really, but hoping she might be allowed to share just a bit in whatever was troubling him, she waited until Will was ready for a snack and a nap, and sat down beside him.
“Why did you come back yesterday…”
He looked at her, eyes distant and unreadable as so often she found them, took a long time to answer. “Wanted to…” lowered his head, stared at the floor, and then at Will were he lay contentedly on hr lap, eating. “Wanted to see our son again and…to be here.”
Which could have simply meant that he’d been lonely for his family and wanted to see them, might have been that simple, if said by anyone else, but she knew what lay behind his words. Knew what that choice had cost him, that it would have been easier for him, in nearly every way, to stay down there and freeze to death in the night, if it came to that--which it probably would have done, realistically--than to admit…weakness, he’d probably call it, defeat; she simply called it humanity…by heading home early. “We want you to be here, too. Stay with us.”
A nod, hand briefly on her shoulder and he got to his feet, hobbled over to the water barrel and peered suspiciously into its depths for a long moment--faint memory from the past evening troubling him at the thought of drinking that water--before dipping himself a pot full. Feet weren’t working too well, swollen and incredibly painful when he put any pressure on them at all, and by the time he’d returned to Liz beside the bed, he was more than ready to sit down. They tended to the feet then, Liz helping him unwrap the gauze with the intention of changing it and inspecting the damage beneath, Einar keeping his face a passive mask as they worked, but she could see the hurt in his eyes. Wished she had thought to wait until after he’d had some more to eat, but further delay had hardly seemed a wise course, anyway. The feet looked much better than either of them had expected. For all their tenderness and hurt, his toes that morning appeared barely blistered, more red and swollen than anything, and with the exception of an area of black on the toe end of the stump of his toeless foot, it appeared to them both that the feet had a decent chance at recovery. Would still be a few days before they knew, but the sight gave them hope.
Einar hadn’t made a sound the entire time as they unwrapped the feet, assessed them an Liz carefully applied more salve before re-wrapping, but now, taking a few deep, deliberate breaths to be sure his voice was ready, he spoke.
“Figure this is because of your mustard, Lizzie? Lot less worse than I’d expected to see…”
“Less worse, huh? What a funny way of putting it, but yes, it really is looking that way. It might be partially the mustard, might be the rather…voluminous amount of willow solution you had, and maybe also the injury just wasn’t as bad as we’d thought, in the first place. You stay off of them this time, you hear? Just as much as you can. No wandering out to re-freeze things like you did the first time before you lost the toes…I, for one, don’t want you losing any more toes.”
Willow? She kept mentioning willow, and still he did not remember. No matter. What was done was done, and if she’d somehow talked him into swallowing a bunch of willow, well, perhaps it had played a role in preventing the feet from becoming as bad as they otherwise might have. But what was all this about his keeping off his feet? Surely that wouldn’t do… “Aw, you mean you don’t want me to have symmetrical feet? My balance would probably be better with symmetrical feet…”
“No! No way. Normally that would sound like a good thing, but in this case…just take care of the feet and keep the toes you’ve got left!”
Suppressing what might have been about to turn into a look of mild annoyance, Einar gave her a firm nod and a half-smile; he’d do it. If possible. Which meant avoiding, at least for the next few days, putting too many miles on the feet. That had been part of his problem before--the need to keep traveling despite the injury.
The need had been aggravated by their situation and the fact that they'd been struggling hard at the time to obtain enough food and keep ahead of their pursuers on a daily basis, but he knew that hadn't been the entire story. He had, to some extent at lest, kept moving because he'd wanted to do it, needed, on some level, to do it, go on pushing himself beyond what he'd known was really wise or reasonable, and though he knew the urge would certainly be there again, and likely more strongly than ever, he intended to fight it. Avoid infection if at all possible, keep the toes--and his life. Hoped he would remember...