Stick Figure on the Moss
Francis wasn’t the only one who wasn’t quite convinced; even Veirya didn’t quite believe it. She looked at me with her head titled. Baffled, she asked, “Is it. Over?”
I asked, “Basically. There’s no rush to head back, though. Let’s stay until tomorrow to return. How about we go for a spin here in the city?”
Veirya gazed up at the sun in the sky. The sun had reached its peak. It was afternoon. In a while, night would fall. I doubt Veirya would get drunk again without Francis. There were still a few more hours in the afternoon, however. I didn’t plan to waste those few hours. If we left then, we’d need to take a break after a short while; hence, I figured it’d be better to leave tomorrow. At the very least, we’d be able to leave while the sun was bright. I didn’t want to waste the time we had until our departure. I thought it’d be best if I could go for a stroll on the streets with Veirya.
“All right.” Veirya nodded. She then looked down at her clothes and tugged on them: “It’s getting hot. Buy. Leah. New clothes.”
“Leah isn’t with us. If we buy clothes without her being present, we might not buy the right size and need to adjust it. We bought her a set last time already. If we need to buy her another set, we’ll need to bring her here with us next time. Let’s buy you one first.”
“I. Don’t need it.”
Veirya shook her head. She appeared to lose interest in going out to a degree. She looked as if she wanted to head straight home or go back to the inn. I helplessly smiled: “We don’t need to worry about Leah so much, I think. Leah isn’t with us at the moment, so there’s no need to worry about what she wants to do. We It’s just the two of us now, just us two. Think about things you want to do with just the two of us. Have a good think; what exactly do you want to do, Veirya. What do you want to buy?”
Veirya titled her head and pulled her eyebrows together. She earnestly contemplated what she should do or wanted to buy most. Perhaps nobody ever asked her what she wanted most, which would explain why she needed to think when I asked.
“I want. Clothes the same colour. As your eyes. Also. Last time. The ice-cream. We ate together. I want. The things. I had together with you.” Veriya paused before continuing, “I have only. Experienced that. I. Don’t know. What else there is. I want to experience.”
Only then did I realise that I asked Veirya an extremely stupid question. She wasn’t a normal woman. She knew what she wanted to do. She wanted to become a normal girl; however, in the past, she never experienced a normal life. She had no idea what a normal girl should do. She had no idea what a normal life was. She couldn’t think of what she could do. The world she recognised was what I illustrated.
I took in a deep breath: “Let’s go, Veirya. Although there isn’t much to play with in this city, I can definitely let you experience some things that a normal girl would enjoy. I’ll take you for a stroll. I’ll take you to many places in the future to show you the world.”
“Then. Let’s go.”
After nodding, Veirya walked beside me. I looked at her outstretched hand. Vierya didn’t look at me weirdly as she did last time. Instead, she took my hand without any hesitation. She raised our hands and carefully scanned them: “You’re not. As strong as me. But. Your hand. Is bigger than mine. By a bit.”
“Ah…” I reacted shyly.
“I’ve never. Held anyone else’s hand. I don’t. Quite understand. Why we need to hold hands. But. I don’t think. Holding hands. Feels bad. I think. This feels warm.”
“Yeah…? I agree… mm…”
I didn’t know what to say, for I was nervous enough to barely be able to speak. As soon as I felt nervous, I began to utter nonsense. When I was excessively nervous, I couldn’t utter a word. I was good with negotiations, but I was nervous and speechless as a young boy when I was in front of Veirya.
While the two of us planned to have a few hours of town in the city and let Veirya experience an enriched life, as I previously said, there wasn’t much entertainment on offer in the city. The chapel administrated the city for too long. Lots of people couldn’t change habits despite the shackles having been removed from the city. We went along the streets for a long time. We didn’t do anything besides order Veirya a new cape.
After travelling for a long time, I started to worry, as it was impossible to provide Veirya with any entertainment. Fortunately, Veirya didn’t feel bored. I couldn’t think of anything to say, while she remained silent. Thus, the two of us silently explored the roads.
We went along the streets. On both sides were blue bricks that displayed the marks time left behind. Some marks were man-made carvings. Veirya also told me that one of the long scratches on one of the bricks was her work. We went to the place we previously went to. The owner of the food store looked at us with mixed emotions, while I gave him a smug grin. We went through a small alley where I almost had dirty water poured on me. Thankfully, Veirya pulled me out of the way in time. We went to the white chapel. The chapel in the imperial city had been destroyed, but the city was far from Queen Sisi’s rule. We could still hear a choir. Veirya unhappily fiddled with her short silver hair. Consequently, I quickly tried to bring her under control in case she lost it.
Brown high boots and low black boots accompanied each other along the blue bricks that they once ran across and the street where blood was once spilt. We went around from the afternoon until the sun went down. What were originally bricks turned into black shadows. The two of us travelled a long distance. Our sweat glued our hands together, but we didn’t want to let go. We didn’t buy ice-cream or flowers. In fact, there wasn’t even someone selling snacks. A bar wasn’t exactly a place for us to relax.
I failed. I wanted to let Veirya experience a different life. In the end, we just turned corners and then turned more corners, sadly.
“Sorry, Veirya, it seems the city doesn’t offer any entertainment.”
I hopelessly leaned on the brick wall by the side. I coincidentally touched moss. I looked at Veirya with a tinge of fear and let go of her hand. I then drew a stick figure on the moss.
“It’s fine.” Veirya shook her head: “I’m. Already very happy. With this afternoon.”
I turned around feeling surprised. Veirya’s face suddenly came right up to mine. I fearfully averted my gaze. She was putting my heart in a precarious predicament… I awkwardly touched my neck then turned my head: “Let’s had back, then. It’s better to go back… Erm… erm… there’s… nothing interesting here.”
Veirya leaned over to the wall and drew a small stick figure next to the one I drew. She looked at the stick figure’s round face. She hesitated for a moment and then gently added a smile…
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