Of Earth and Ice
a sci-fi web-serial
by Jeremy C Kester
The water stung as it washed over Evie’s wounds. She winced, but she tried letting the feeling soothe her. After some time the stinging subsided and gave way to a dull throbbing.
Gerald dipped the sponge into the basin of water and drew it out shaking off the excess back into the tub each time before trying to soothe her lover’s wounds. She had to sneak the water in from her own stores, and although she had plenty to spare, if she was caught it would not mean well for her.
Evie was naked sitting on the cold, wet floor. Her wounds weren’t too deep, but the bruises on her back and head were terrible. The one on her head accompanied a large, uncomfortable welt.
“Why didn’t you notify me?” Gerald asked. “I’d’ve dropped everything to help you.”
Those were the first words either had said since Gerald had arrived at her quarters. When she first saw the injuries, she cried and held Evie. Evie remained stoic, still unsure of how to respond to the attack.
“It’s getting too dangerous, Gerry,” Evie said meekly. “I can’t have you thinking you can keep saving me. I can fight this myself.”
“How? Why are you trying to fight this?” Evie quietly sobbed as the words left her lover’s lips. She felt rudderless where only a day before she felt headstrong and certain of her path. Only one certainty remained steady in Evie’s mind: she needed to relearn how to fight.
Gerald continued, “I want you to stay alive. I can’t let you fight this if it means that I am going to lose you.”
Evie didn’t reply. She sat quietly trying to push back the emotions that were swelling inside her.
Gerald continued bathing Evie and her wounds before bandaging them with some of the leftover gauze from Evie’s prior wounds. Her fingers then ran gently along the scars carved into Evie’s back. Though terrifying in appearance, Gerald found the scars oddly intriguing. They spoke of Evie’s perseverance, of her strength. It was something that though Gerald had always been noted as having by her peers, she felt that she knew nothing about.
Embarrassed by the feeling, she quietly draped a towel over Evie giving her a kiss on the shoulder before covering it up. She didn’t want Evie to recognize that there was anything wrong. Evie however felt that it was all very wrong.
Evie’s mind continued to race from thought to thought, from pain to fear. Nothing in the world made any sense to her in the moment. She knew always that there was bad blood between the castes that her appointment had brought on, but now she felt threatened by it. But the threats only emboldened her resolve.
The matter only left Gerald in the mists of her fears. Evie loved her so very much. They had enjoyed years of comfortably lying together without notice. It felt so very wrong now, as if it were a limb crushed by a force and no longer able to function properly. Evie wanted to cut it off, but more than being beaten alive, it frightened her.
“I don’t want you to fight for me anymore, Gerry,” Evie said. She gripped the edges of the towel with her remaining fingers and pulled it tighter around her.
Gerald stood abruptly and stepped back. “What are you talking about? Why not?” She knew why her lover said it, she knew it was right, but the words still struck her the same.
“This is not your fight now. I have to prove myself. I can’t let you risk your position, your life, for me.”
“That’s my choice.”
Evie stood up, pulling herself away from Gerald. “No, it’s my choice. You have to give me this. I cannot possibly do this with you. I cannot have you in my head.”
“What do you mean by that?”
Evie took a deep breath trying to muster the strength to say the words that she was trying to eject from her. They were words that she didn’t want to say. “I don’t want to be thinking about you when I am trying to do this. You distract me.”
“I love you, Evie,” Gerald retorted angrily. “How is that a distraction?! I want to help you!”
Evie shook her head. A single tear
Gerald stepped back. Though her face remained steady, unwielding, her eyes began to glisten showing what the words meant to her. She said nothing more.
Feeling ashamed as she realized the meaning of what she said, Evie turned away. “I think you should go,” she found herself saying aloud.
Silence was all that followed. Gerald quietly made her way out of Evie’s quarters.
After a few moments Evie turned to witness the now empty living space before her. Regret immediately took hold.
She knew that it was the right thing to do for right now, but it felt so wrong.
Previous Episode: 6 – The Run
Next Episode due August 18, 2015