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The Hours #12

Samantha and I walked for the better part of a day before we came to the edge of a small wood. We had both played an equal role in keeping the other going when the enormity of our situation would come crashing down. Each cared for the other, offering a hand or a shoulder as was needed, and in the course of the day I developed a deep appreciation for the woman.

I had thought her nothing but a brainless trollop when first introduced. After joining Carl and his betrothed for a meal, I then thought her a waspish shrew and I pitied my friend. Now though, I came to the conclusion that Carl would have been the lucky one. Samantha was filled with steel that made me feel effeminate at times. We traveled without food or water, and despite these hardships she carried on with far less complaint than I could have imagined possible from any lady.

“I don’t know if we should go in there,” she said, peering between the trees.

“We can walk around the edge,” I said. “But I believe we need to stay close enough to take cover if those birds return.”

“What about spiders?”

I swallowed and then flinched at the look on her face when she heard me. “I agree that there are many dangers, but I should think that we will be best able to react by staying on the edge. We can walk in the grass in an effort to ease our way.”

Samantha looked all around and nodded. “Are you much of an outdoorsman? Did you spend time in the field with Carl?”

“A little, though at this moment I am wishing I had spent a great deal more time hunting with him. Why?”

Before she could answer my stomach released a growl that could have frightened small children. Samantha smiled and I nodded, then we began to move along the woods.

I looked up, as I so often did during this leg of our adventure, and in the lowest limbs of one old, dead tree I saw two of the red winged birds that had destroyed our garments. I stopped, squeezing Samantha’s hand and nodded.

“What now?” She whispered the word into my ear, and the heat of her breath sent chills over my body in waves that must have mimicked water after dropping in a stone. I took a deep breath to aid in the search for my composure and dropped my eyes to the ground.

A large stick lay at my feet.

When I attempted to release her hand, the woman squeezed my fingers tightly enough to crack the knuckles. I patted her, took a stronger grip in an effort to reassure her, and knelt to gather up the weapon. She looked at me, panic washing over her face.

I moved forward with slow steps, making an effort to keep quiet. I doubt it mattered because the birds squawked and chirped at each other, making a tremendous amount of noise. I don’t know when Samantha realized what I intended to  do, but the second time I released her hand, she let go without complaint.

The impact of my club against one bird and then the limb below it caused the other one to take wing. Samantha was smiling and almost bouncing as she looked at the thieving little beast who had helped to destroy her dress. “Well done,” she said. “So we will be dining on squab tonight.”


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