NaNoWriMo: Posted November 17@11:02p
“You sure you don’t want to come with us?” Tara asked, sounding like last call at a bar.
Sita normally would have gone with her siblings to the Bazaar. After their interactions last night Sita hoped she could get Bankim to escort her there instead, even if legally they needed to bring another male Guardian with. She planned her excuse when trying to fall to sleep. She needed of buying her sister a present.
She really did need to buy her sister a birthday present.
Bankim just wasn’t an early riser.
“Shh,” Sita hushed her sister, patting the air with her hands as if the signal could actually keep Tara’s voice from booming. “I promise you that I’m sure I don’t want to go.”
Sita’s brother pulled baked bread from the oven, a towel stuffed into his pants like an apron. The boy looked ridiculous, but he knew how to cook. Raj flipped the bread from the pan and sliced his work before it had properly cooled. The sweet chunks of perfection steamed sugary vapors.
“Sorry,” her sister whispered, covering her mouth as if she actually felt bad for talking so loud. Raj offered her the first plate of food.
“Come on, Sita. If you expected her to be quiet then you should have prepared her breakfast.”
“Whatever. Raj. At least I knew to not ever sneak out with her.”
Tara snorted and stuffed a chunk of sweetened bread in her mouth. “That’s true,” Tara mumbled through her food as she cocked a brow that matched the half shrug of her shoulder. She never much cared what people thought of her. “For the record, it stinks that you’re not coming with us. I wanted to show you what birthday present I wanted.”
Sita worked in a separate area of the kitchen where herbalism preparation took place. She woke early to prepare an extract of the purple needle seed into a cold-pressed blue-death weed tea. She knew her work would help Nom, Kalle and Toivo better endure their hangovers. The three were still passed out, but when they woke up Sita expected them to be miserable. If she managed to get them all feeling better and get her chores done, then she could get her sister’s present with Bankim, if he agreed to take her.
“You already told me what to buy you,” Sita told her sister, did she completely forget the family dinner?
“She just wants us out of here before her new man wakes up,” Raj teased, slamming his shoulder against Tara’s. His deep voice remained low and contrasted Tara’s. Yet, his whisper carried, but it seemed more soothing, like a lullaby.
“Stop it,” Sita hissed, her cheeks warming. “We talked once.”
“Oh, I forgot about him.” Tara face drew into large, devilish smile. “Easy to do when I can’t see him.”
“He’s sleeping.” Sita plucked twelve needles from the blooming purple flower. She snapped each one separately in half and crushed them in her mortal and pestle. Behind her the kettle water and hops whistled and awaited to be fused.
Sita walked to the shop’s front room. Lanterns glowed a warm orange, but Sita knew the sun lit the world just pass Nom’s dark wood door. No one ever entered the store during the Bazaar; it was too far out of the mainstream. Most just picked up needed at one of the stands or waited. She sighed quietly to herself and pulled an unornamented tray out from under the display case. Tea was done and remained on the fire warming. Sita figured she’d slip into that first bedroom and see if anyone stirred, if not she’d leave the tea warming and work on her chores.
As Sita’s hand pressed the backroom’s hinged door open, the spirit bells rang.
She turned, dropping the empty tray to her side, and expected to greet a customer.
Instead she found herself pleasantly surprised to see the group’s old friend.
She smiled as she walked back to the display case and placed the tray down on its glass top.
“Chand, I didn’t know you were in town.”
He often stayed in Nom’s shop when he was in Lynthia.
“Morning Sita,” Chand smiled, pushing his sunglasses up onto his head. The stark tan lines told Sita he’d been traveling in the sun for a while. “I got in late last night, figured I’d take a room at Recess Keep instead of disturbing the homestead.”
Sita smiled, putting her hand on her hip. “The guys will be happy to see you. They’ve had a rough few days.”
“There’s some sweet bread in the back if you want some,” Sita said, pointing over her shoulder. “And I was about the pour blue-death weed tea if anyone upstairs was awake.”
“Maybe later. I need to talk to Ban. He’s not part of the hung-over crowd, is he?”
“No, he’s upstairs in his room, last one of the right.”
“Maybe I’ll be lucky, and he’ll be dressed this time,” Chand said flippantly and turned for the stairs.
Sita stared after him, dumbfounded by the comment. After four steps, Chand followed the stairways curve, and Sita broke her trance. She picked up the tray, unsure what she really thought of Chand’s remark but found herself fantasizing about the possibility of it being true.
Bankim’s quads felt two times heavier than they ever did before. Each step exhausted him. It was like he carried a crew member upstairs on his back. He should just go to bed. He’d never bother exerting this much energy for Kalle or Toivo, but for whatever reason Sita was a different story. Maybe it was because while nothing gelled right in the house with the crew everything with Sita did.
She always left her bedroom door open. Tonight was no exception .Bankim didn’t know of too many women who felt safe like that. He rapped on her door’s frame and curled around to casually rest against it.
“Want me to bring you some dinner? Nom said you weren’t feeling well.”
Sita didn’t move. Bankim worried she was asleep, but he couldn’t tell in the dark. Her room was one without windows. What he couldn’t see was her opening her eyes and rolling to her back slowly. She glanced over her shoulder to the door. She knew Bankim stood there, she recognized his voice even though it sounded airy. His shoulder resting against it as if he needed the support. His body was more shadow that color. He looked eerie like that, like foreshadowed death.
“No, I’ll come down.”
“Chand bought  at the Bazaar,” Bankim added, probably thinking it would entice her.
She froze and considered changing her mind.
“Don’t force yourself,” Bankim said, worried she might be sick again.
Instead she sat up slowly, her covers dropping from her around her chest to her lap.
“When Chand spoke to you this morning, did he say anything about Naji?”
She waited in her bed, her legs straight, stripped a tie from her wrist and twisted her hair into a bun on top of her head. Bankim shifted on his feet then lifted himself off the doorframe. He stepped into Sita’s room, unsure if it was allowed or not, and sat next to her on her bed. She smelled like sugar and roses probably from making the cookies he found on the kitchen counter.
Was it fair for him to tell her about Earth? Did she know about it at all yet?
Bankim cleared his throat, deciding that it wasn’t fair to lie to her. She was Naji’s friend from their youngest of years. He did need to adjust the trust, however, to protect everyone.
The fast that he couldn’t just be honest with her was also why he needed to stop caring about her and keep to himself. Loving someone meant you didn’t lie to them.
“He found evidence—”
Sort of, Bankim left those details out. He didn’t know how to explain that Chand found their dead bodies on an entirely different planet.
FAILED FIRST ATTEMPTS
1) “Come with us,” Tara begged Sita.
Sita rarely returned home anymore. Her old friends didn’t quite understand her new life nor did they know about Bankim or anyone else on that crew. Her sister was a different story. She stopped by weekly. Normally, Sita traveled the Bazaar with her and their three brothers. Tara did know about Bankim just as Sita knew about [Name].
[Name] got [Name] to join us today. You have to come with.” Tara’s voice lengthened, droning into a whine, “I need your support here!”
Maybe not sister?
Normally, Sita would never decline going to the Bazaar with her siblings, but she just saw them at dinner the other night and was expected back for Tara’s birthday celebration tomorrow. It was her last year of study with Nom before she could attend Port el’Reathsen’s university. The best day of Sita’s life occurred when Nom invited her to room at her shop. “I’m going to prepare a series of [name] elixirs. I can only imagine what wine Dad’s going to purchase for your party.”
Sita did plan on making the elixirs, but she needed Nom’s help. What Sita really hoped to do was get Bankim to escort her to the Bazaar, even if they did have to ask Kalle or Toivo to go with. She planned her excuse with Tara at dinner – she needed of buying her sister a present.
She really did need to buy her sister a birthday present, and she really did prefer the idea of going with someone other than her siblings to do it.
Bankim just wasn’t an early riser.
“I do like my rice cookies,” Tara reminded her sister. Sita gave her the gift every year regardless if she bought her something else or not.
“Yeah, yeah,” Sita calling, waving her sister away. The shop’s spirit bell jingle often annoyed Sita, but they certainly made her happy today as her sister departed. She sighed a calming breath. Sita had the entire shop to herself save for Bankim and Toivo
Sita stood behind Nom’s display case again. She had just pulled out one of the organizers to clean.
WORD COUNT: 1706
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