‹ Prequel: A Life Cycle Reborn
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A Life Again

Chapter 8 Taylan Present World: Airus

A whisper just after sunrise wakes me, "Taylan?" I was slowly waking, and it doesn't startle me. I roll over." Yes?" "We are going out for a swim to wash up before breakfast; do you want to come with us?" I let out a yawn before answering, "Sure". Whoever that was stepped out of the room before I could glance down from the top bunk. I am pretty sure that was Ashlea's voice. I climb down and without a word, walked out into the morning mist. The song of a bird echoes over the water as I tiptoe to the shore and Ashlea is there to meet me on the sand.

I speak in a low voice; it is so calm and quiet at this hour it feels as though we have the world's attention. "Did you sleep well?"

She shrugs and puts on that brave smile, "I got a few hours in. How about you?"

"I can't complain." The light creek of the basement door echoes and Saydira emerges from the basement, checking on the horses and she makes her way over to us.

Ashlea asks, "Jodis isn't joining us?"

Saydira shakes her head, "No she said she would take a sponge bath and put a breakfast together while we wash up so that we can be out of here sooner."

We walk out into the water. It starts off as a sandy bottom but then I find myself stepping on tree leaves, the odd twig, and weeds. Eww I hate the feeling, that squishy slimy feeling and when you step you sink down into the muddy bottom and unlike the crystal clear ocean the bottom of the lake is easily disturbed and each step we take causes a cloud of dirt to stir up in the water. I hate not being able to see where it is that I am stepping and once waste deep I jump in, because I can't bear to touch the bottom.

I swim out deeper into the bay, not too far out; someone has a square dock for diving in the deeper end of the bay. This is my destination and I kick with little effort since the webbing to my first knuckles helps to propel myself over to it. Saydira and Ashlea without saying anything have made the decision that that's where they want to go also. I hoist myself up onto the old wooden dock and take a seat. A dip is all that I need to wash the sweat, dirt and the smell of horse off my fair skin. Ashlea and Saydira join me and take a seat. Saydira is tired. Her eyelids are a bit puffy, but her mind is working, her lush brows furrow as she ponders. She is mapping out the two cottages and the lakeshore. Whoever owns these two cottages seem to have boats. I hadn't noticed until right now that the other cottage has a boat dock, but the only thing is, is there is no boat docked to it.

Saydira is looking at it when I whisper, "Maybe they stored it in the basement?"

She doesn't look at me when she answers, "Yes, I was thinking that too."

Ashlea says, "Maybe we can let the horses go home if there is a boat in the basement. It would help us with leaving no tracks."

Saydira answers, "Hmm no, it's too much of a hassle, it's not ours and by the time we get it into the water and figure out how to use it, it's just too much time wasted."

I add, "I think we should try to keep the horses."

Saydira answers, "I think we should let them go home. They could track us more easily. besides, we can easily hide without them."

Ashlea jumps in, "Wait, I take back what I just said a moment before, it makes no difference, hoof prints or no footprints, tracks are tracks, we should hang on to our horses as long as we can. Besides if we are lucky the soldiers, we ran into that were in town may not have tipped the ones off at Newlyn's. They may not be tracking horses."

I ask, "So what are we agreeing on, boat, no boat or horses versus no horses?"

Ashlea shrugs, "Horses, right?"

Ashlea looks over to Saydira who then looks at me. "We try to keep them as long as we can."

We all slip back into the water from the dock and wade in the calm. The lonely bird that we could hear has gone quiet. Maybe he is listening to us? All that I can hear is the odd tiny splash from my sisters. It's time to return to the shore to dry off and eat. We are about halfway to the shore and just passing the neighboring cottage dock when I see three soldiers walking on our cottages' beach. They are looking for us. Before being able to even think Ashlea reaches out and pulls me underwater leading me to the neighboring boat dock we swim under and have enough space to bring our heads up under the structure. I cough up a bit of water and mouth the words, "What the hell?"

I see Ashlea and Saydira's outlines in the shadows and the sparkle of light that get captured in each of their eyes. Like they are one, they each hold a finger to their mouths. Footsteps echo over the water. They must have found Jodis. We can't see them unless we dunk our heads underwater and look at them from the bottom but even that will cause unwanted ripples on the still as a mirror water. It's so quiet; I can hear my own heartbeat. Then the sinking feeling of knowing they are close. The sound of a footstep, slow and careful. They creek the wood above. Then another, he is cautious with each step moving closer from up above. We all hold our breath at the approaching person.

Now up above, I dare to tilt my head up and lookthru the crack between the wooden planks. Through the cobwebs and bug casings,I peer into the little slit of light and see him clean-shaven and muscular. Heis pausing to look out over the water. Slowly he turns around. Please go away,please go away I pray silently. He takes a step and I exhale slowly. A handgrabs and pulls me out. How did he know?