My watcher is back. He stands just around the corner of the next-nearest street, where he thinks I can't see him.
"What do you think?" I ask Kav from where I kneel before her. She whuffs quietly and points toward the street where the stranger lurks.
"You're right," (more)I tell her. I stand, and she leaps to her paws, tail wagging.
I walk behind my hut, to where my watcher can't see me. Kav follows.
From there, we strike out toward the village, following the line of huts so that the watcher cannot see that we have left.
Eventually, we gain the street the watcher stands on. I can see him down at the end. He has stepped out and is staring curiously at my maelker in their run.
Kav and I walk down the street. When we are about halfway down, I stop.
"Barda," I whisper to her, and she tears away from me.
It is almost comical, the way the watcher turns, and sees my Kav bearing down on him, and the way he runs, but only makes it a few steps before she has taken him to the ground.
I jog up to them to see Kav sitting neatly beside the still form, one large paw pressed firmly against his back.
"Kez," I tell her, and she releases her hostage.
I kick him, gently.
He rolls over, and I am surprised to see the headman's middle son staring up at me.
"What are you going to do to me?" he asks, obviously stifling fear.
I consider him for a moment, then shake my head and whistle to Kav. She stands and we walk back to our hut.
The boy follows us.
"Why does she obey you so well?" he asks.
"We are of the Northlands," I reply.(less)
"He was having an affair."
He was having an affair and that was why dad couldn't live with them any more.
She, being younger, didn't understand. Didn't he love them?
That was why she spent her whole adolescence without a father.
He was in a flat in the other(more) side of town, her mother said. Had his own family. Kids, even.
He slipped out of her mind eventually.
She went to college, got a job. Didn't think once about her father.
She got the phone call when she was sitting in her apartment watching TV.
It was one of those karmatic things, you know. Car crash. Drunk driver out of nowhere.
Her father was in critical condition in the hospital, and they wanted her to come down and be with him.
In the background, she could almost - almost - feel fate fixing its eye on her.
She got there. He was laid out on a bed, broken, shattered. They'd put his arm in a bucket next to the bed (it was a very low-budget hospital).
He didn't wake up.
She didn't cry.
And she left when the monitor's insistent, gentle beeping changed to a long, heartrending tone.
The next day, her mother stopped by her apartment and awkwardly dropped off a bag of letters.
She didn't understand until her mother mumbled something about them being from her father and how she hadn't had the heart to give them to her.
So she took them and didn't say a word.
And when she went to her father's apartment later that day to pick up any of his effects, she found it was a simple one-man flat. There was no family here. And on the table was a photograph.
Of her and her mother.(less)