NaNoWriMo: Posted November 7 @11:10pm
Nom dipped a small cloth into a nearby water basin and wiped blood from Ensi’s dark eyebrow. Next to the basin waited a bit of yarrow wrapped in a cheesecloth towel. The yarrow would help Ensi’s bruises and inflammation, but she needed to stop the blood from dripping into the woman’s eye first.
For now, Nom didn’t need help. So Jaith sat on the bedroom’s nightstand…on her nightstand. He lived life so flippantly it drove Nom crazy, but he always brought a delightful air to the space. He released a beneficial emotional energy that Nom needed, especially right now.
What Nom found curious about him was the way he handled his money.
He reminded her of the Ethantinians. Money was meaningless to him – not that he had any because he never kept any. He gave it away to people he met in need. He always seemed to have exactly what he wanted, always content.
What money he had left from his last job he just offered to this woman…as long as she ran from her husband.
“I can’t leave,” she moaned through tears on the bed. “I don’t want our marriage to end. I just wanted the violence to stop.”
Jaith shuffled his weight on the nightstand. It drove him nuts when abused women wouldn’t leave their abusers. He knew it was a common occurrence, and he knew that his opinion didn’t matter. His circumstances and their circumstances were always very different. When he first started helping these women he didn’t understand why they just didn’t run from the violence, but now he knew that it was more dangerous to run than it was to stay. Today was a prime example.
Ensi was packing to leave with what little money she had squirreled away when her husband came home from the Bazaar earlier than expected. Luckily she sent her daughter Liana into their yard to play while she worked. Otherwise, who knows what kind of state that little girl would have ended up in. The man Mirrikh clutched Ensi’s neck and had just thrown her out of their home’s front door when Jaith and Trigger walked by. The woman stumbled from the propulsion, tripping over her own feet three times then slamming her face hard against the ground. Trigger was the first to stop and help the woman up. He gently fingered her bleeding face, never saw Mirrikh coming at him.
Jaith sighed to himself and watched Nom work her cloth in that stained water. She carefully dabbed the split eyebrow a final time the moved to adjusting the yarrow over the wound.
Jaith worried that Trigger’s unconscious state would be the last Jaith would know him in. He was also pretty sure that Ensi’s nose was permanently disfigured, maybe even her hand too. Both broke when she hit the ground. He did not want to be around when Nom went to work on fixing those. His body quivered.
Liana needed to be his focus. She was the one his entire crew protected with their lives. It would be ridiculous to say that she hadn’t suffered emotional trauma. He’d figure out how to help her later.
Ensi still babbled about how her husband still loved and protected her and about how even if she wanted to leave she no longer had any money.
“I’m offering to help you and your daughter, Ensi. I’ll see to retrieving any personal item you can’t leave behind, your documentations. I will pay for your travel, and my crew will protect you. Once we’ve seen you to safety, we’ll arrange permanent living quarters and establish you in the community. I’m not saying you have to go, I’m just say the offer is out there.”
“Can you just take Liana?” Ensi croaked, coughing up blood.
Jaith’s right cheek cringed.
He knew that leaving a violent partner was a very dangerous time. A woman was more likely to die at that time period than at any other time in the relationship, but how dangerous would it be for the child if the mother stayed with her partner?
Jaith hesitated to continue this particular train of thought. So stopped, lifted his chin up to eye the ceiling and sucked in a deep calming breathe. He wanted to slit Ensi’s husband’s throat for what he did. He wanted to do it personally, to feel the warm sticky blood cover his fingers until they lost grip.
For some, the decision to leave was like suicide. For Ensi, the decision to not leave but have Jaith’s crew save her daughter was suicide. Jaith knew her husband would kill her when he found out. Ensi’s choice was a twisted loyalty, but he refused to share his opinion with her. His opinion didn’t matter. His job was to rescue her daughter. His challenge was to prepare a plot that was cunning enough to convince the man that his daughter died…or disappeared…or something.
Jaith wasn’t that far yet.
Ensi coughed again.
A young giggle echoed across the hall. Jaith’s eyes dropped to the door then to Ensi. Her lips curled into a mother’s smile. He guessed that in that second the battered woman felt no pain; her daughter’s laughter granted her a serene moment. Then her face drew together, and the agony of her pain took over. Jaith hated Nom’s face. She feared Ensi’s injuries. They were worse than they seemed.
The woman’s daughter Liana rested in a room across the hall. Last Jaith saw, she was playing cards with Bankim. There was something about his friend’s rolled sleeves and suspenders that drew her to Ban. Liana clung to him like a tall teddy bear. A tall teddy bear that wore funny clothes.
Bankim pretended to hate children.
Jaith accepted his lie, which oddly strengthened their bond of trust with each other.
What worried Jaith was the fact that Liana didn’t seem concerned about her mother. Jaith met a man once who studied body language. He described a reactive behavior similar to Liana’s and explained that for some it was a coping mechanism. The man was no Port el’Reathsen professor, but his explanation suited Jaith.
How did this coping mechanism work? She acted like her mother was just ill with a headache. Coping mechanism or not, Jaith knew that this girl spent her entire life aware and affected by her parents’ relationship. It was traumatic. Soldiers suffered from traumatic experiences after one run on a battlefield. The girl’s brain structure or chemistry must have been altered.
Jaith lifted himself from the small dresser and paced the windowless room. He thought about Ensi and Nom and Trigger again. If he was right, if that look Nom just gave him really did express a concern that Ensi wouldn’t make it, then why was Nom tending to her when she didn’t tend to Trigger? Trigger’s brain bled, and Nom specifically to him that she feared his bled too fast. She feared that the pressure of that blood on his brain would take his life.
Jaith ran a hand down the side of his face.
Trigger remained unconscious in the last room down the hall. Nom called it a coma. Trigger’s protective nature was just too strong. It wasn’t even like Trigger had lost control of the situation. He just helped a woman up to her feet. Mirrikh blindsided him.
“One blasted punch,” Jaith grumbled to himself as he paced near a portion of a far wall. Nom examined Ensi’s wrist. She had folded the covered into a pile so that the woman couldn’t see over them from where she laid. He couldn’t stay.
“I’ll get your assistant,” he said and stepped out of the room.
Kalle waited for him in the hall with his arms crossed over his chest. His brown and red highlighted hair looked as well-groomed as it did at breakfast. He still wore his three-piece suit, but that had evidence of some wear. Kalle pushed away from the wall, standing straight and greeted Jaith.
“Still in that blood-stained suit, huh?”
“No one else has changed.”
“Except for Toivo,” Jaith noted.
“Toivo doesn’t count.”
“Toivo never counts. Where is he anyway?”
“Have you been with Trigger?”
“Yes, you know that it’s just a matter of time, right?”
Jaith nodded. He never felt so solemn.
“He’ll pull through, just maybe not here, but he’ll be okay.”
Both men knew what would happen to Trigger – he’d struggle in Earth’s water then, when he recovered, he’d be taken to his Judgment. His life didn’t end, just changed. Jaith also knew that Trigger’s good deeds outweighed his mistakes. If the entire crew died today, Trigger was the only crew member likely to pass Judgment.
“Daksh will be there. He’d take care of him.”
Kalle nodded and turned, his body facing the direction of Trigger’s room. Jaith accepted the cue and joined him to pay Trigger a visit. Kalle had a medical background from beyond the Port. He came from a rich family that cared a little too much about image. For a second, as Kalle twisted the door handle to Trigger’s room, Jaith wondered if his friend wished it was Toivo instead of Trigger struggling with death.
Jaith sniffed at himself.
Kalle wasn’t like that.
One of Nom’s assistants sat at Trigger’s bedside. She scribbled notes onto a sheet of paper, probably noting recently checked vitals.
“Nom would like you to join her with Ensi. I think she is planning to bandage her hand, or whatever you do to broken bones,” Jaith said, waiting at the bedroom door for the assistant to depart. Kalle walked around the foot of the single person bed and assessed the patient himself.
Jaith paused before shutting the door, taking a selfish moment to admire the woman’s backend.
“That’s rude,” Kalle warned, not looking up from his work, but visibly relaxed when he heard the door click shut.
Jaith snorted. “Trigger wouldn’t mind. In fact, he’d probably join in. You know, if he could.”
Jaith shrugged despite himself and settled onto the assistant’s stool. He propped his elbow on the bed, rested his cheek on his fist and waited for Kalle to finish his work.
“Well, my friend,” Kalle started, holding Trigger’s wrist and counting his pulse. “You’re not coming back from this.”
“We’re going to be instable without him.”
“We’ll figure it out.”
If we don’t, think he’ll open a bar on Earth so we can all hang out together after we’ve died?”
Kalle glared at Jaith, meeting his face with a look of disgust. “You really are sick, Jaith.”
“Maybe but think about it. How marehkeh would that be?”
Kalle cracked a smile. “Yeah, I guess it would be.”
WORD COUNT: 1784
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