09 April, 2013

9 April 2013

While Einar’s main concerns focused around a potential raid in Kilgore’s absence—his thought being that the tracker might have been called away precisely to clear the way for such an occurrence—Liz was increasingly concerned that he might not be around long enough to find out.  Though keeping diligently to his duties that day, patrolling the house and doing what he could to keep an eye on the outside without actually exposing himself to potential detection—must work on a disguise, he told himself, something which would allow him to leave the house without too much worry—he did not look right to Liz, even in comparison to his condition since their arrival at the house, and she wondered whether the trouble might be due to lingering remains of the bear dart, or to something more worrisome. 

Either way, she could not help but notice that his eyes seemed unnaturally bright, staring, skin appearing nearly transparent and the expression on his face one of muted desperation, as if some part of him must be quite well aware of the direness of his situation, even though she was well aware that he never would have admitted to it, had he been questioned.  She’d only seen him like that a few times in the past, always when things were going quite badly and needed an immediate change.  But with Kilgore gone and Einar, for all practical purposes, left in charge of the place during his absence, she did not know exactly how to go about precipitating that change.  With the rabbit stick stowed away in her pack in the bedroom, she figured it might be best to try talking.  Not that he normally listened, but she was short on other ideas.

“Up there after that ‘class’ you did with Juni…you’d agreed to eat, remember?  To get stronger.  It was your idea, not mine, and you were really committed to doing it.  What happened to make you change your mind?  Wouldn’t this be a good opportunity to get things on the right track?  The perfect opportunity, really…”

He shifted position, looked uncomfortable, which she was sure he must be, sitting there on the hard floor with his back to the wall and all his bones sticking out the way they were, but she knew it wasn’t the physical discomfort which was bothering him.

“Might have worked out there, that plan I had, but here in this place where I’m stuck and can’t leave because the weather won’t cooperate and making tracks might be a disaster…well, sometimes it seems like the only thing I’ve really got left.  Only way to kind of keep things in order and maintain some sort of discipline.”

“What does?  The starving?  The almost dying every few days, only to bring yourself yourself back just enough so you can do it all over again?”

“If that’s how you want to put it.”

“That’s how it is.”

He shrugged.

“It’s not true, you know.  Not all you’ve got left.  You’ve got me, and you’ve got Will, and two good friends in Bud and Susan, two people who are willing to risk so much to make sure we’re safe, here…  And as far as discipline, aren’t there other things you could do, instead?”

A faint spark of something in his eyes at that.  Humor, almost, she could not help but think, a suspicion which was confirmed by a slight twisting at one corner of his mouth, as if he might be trying not to smile.  “Here?  No, I don’t really think so.  This is not the place for other things.”

“I didn’t mean those sorts of things!  I was hoping you might be able to be disciplined about eating, letting yourself get some rest, to consider that your challenge, maybe gaining a little weight even.   Goodness knows it would be challenging enough.  Probably a lot more difficult than going on the way you’ve been going, in some ways.”

“It wouldn’t be the same.”

“It might if you would let it.  If you would be willing.  Give it a try?”

“Maybe when Kilgore gets back.  Right now, I need to be able to focus.  Keep things in order.  When he gets back, we’ll see.”

“You don’t have that long.”

Frustrated, he wanted to get up and walk away, but did not.  “Sure I have.  Got this far, haven’t I?  It’s not good being here where life is so easy.  The daily things we have to do, I mean.  Gives folks way too much time to worry about things with no cause.  No cause at all.”

“No cause?  I’ll show you the cause.  Come with me.” 

Not much choice with her dragging him by the arm like that, not unless he wanted to forcefully resist, which he did not especially want to do, so he went, Liz brushing right past the startled raven where he sat guarding the place from his post on the couch and leaving Will to gallop along behind on hands and knees as she hurried him to Susan’s bathroom, and the mirror.  “Here’s your cause.  See that guy in there?  Look at him.  Now what do you suppose your reaction would be if you saw him walking down the street one day, or in the woods?  Honestly, what would you think?”

“Oh, don’t know that I’d pay him much mind, really.  Just looks like a regular guy going about his life.  Guess he is kinda scrawny and ugly, but never cared too much about such things, myself.”

“Kind of scrawny?  Is that really how you see him?  Here, take off this sweater.  Have a better look.”

He did.  Easy enough for him to ignore such things when by himself, even when his bones were digging into the bed at night and hurting him, or when he bruised a knobby elbow against his own ribs doing nothing more than walking across the clearing, but here with Liz standing beside him, the true situation was a big more difficult to dismiss.  He shrugged.  “Yeah, guess I see it.  Kind of looks like something you’d find in a prison camp, doesn’t it?  Looks like one of the ones who probably isn’t gonna make it.”

“Right.  That’s right.  So that’s what I see when I look at you now.  A little worse every day, a little closer to not making it.  That’s why I need you to make the decision to do things differently for a while, quit relying on the hunger as a form of discipline and put that effort into eating.  Do you see it?”

“Guess so.  But I’m not even doing anything now that we’re here.  No getting firewood, no climbing the cliffs, just sitting around all day.  So things will start to get better on their own.  Probably already have.”

“I don’t think so.  Will you step on the scale for a second?”

He pulled back.  “No, no…that bothered you last time.  Rather not do that.”

“I need to know.  We both need to, so we can know when you’re making progress.  Come on, step up.” 

He did.  Three pounds fewer than when they had arrived several days prior.  Liz didn’t even know how that could be possible, turned to him with tears in her eyes as she handed him his sweater.  To Einar, the number meant nothing.  Except that he did not like to see her cry.  Hated to be the cause of that.  Figured he’d give it a try, eat her food, at least for a day or two, and figure the rest out as it came.  Which it would be doing without too much delay…

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