“Huh?” Who’s calling out my name?
“Oo’ve been in thought so long, caravan’s a’most outta sight. Come’n, I’ll give ya ah back ride!” It’s Glen, the Arbitrator’s husband. He must have stayed back to wait for me.
“Hah, no, it’s okay, I’m not that weak, and I need some exercise. Too much sitting on Otsu lately.” I jog to catch up to the caravan. It has been a while since I’ve run like this. It feels good.
“Now, ‘member not ta o’er do it. Ya exercise too much, an feeding, yer milk’ll dry up.” What? Really? I didn’t know that.
I slow my pace, and think of my son. He eats so much, it would be bad to jeopardize any level of food for him. And, I kind of like how big these have become. Although, they do make my shoulders sore… But, they make it difficult to run, as I just found out. Much too bouncy. Ahhhh… they’re leaking! Maybe they bounced too much. My shirt has spots on it now.
“‘Ere.” Glen hands me a thick vest to put over top. Where does he get that stuff from? It always seems like he has just the right things on hand…
“Hm?” Oh. Yeah. We are. “Yeah. I’m not sure… How I feel about all of this.”
“Hm, notin’ ta worry o’er. Wife says it’ll be fine.” Yeah… but she’s your wife. You can’t really argue with her. Just because she says it will be fine doesn’t mean I’ll suddenly be at rest over the situation.
I mean, I’m finally going to have a home! Well, not immediately, but she said I’ll know where my home is after this stop. She often speaks that way… Where it’s not clear what she’s really saying. Either way, It’s both exciting and nerve wracking. I just don’t know how to feel.
What if I don’t like it?
Glen puts a hand on my head with a ‘plop.’ It startles me, and wasn’t comfortable… I’m a bit sensitive to others touching me, since the events in that town. Although, his hand really didn’t hurt when he touched me, it still bothers me. “Stop worr’in.”
“Okay…” It’s hard to argue with someone who always knows the right tool for the situation.
“Go now, en get yer b’by”
“Yes, Glen.” It’s still nice to get some exercise; I pass all the other caravan people in a blur.
I find Otsu and my son. They’re cooing at each other. It’s so sweet, but I’m a bit jealous. My son rarely coo’s at me. Otsu is such a good father figure.
“Otsu, thank you. Nanook, Mommy’s back!” I scoop Nanook up in my arms and cuddle him. He’s always so warm. It’s very reassuring. Much like a campfire… I guess? My Nanook. I love my precious son.
Ah, I didn’t realize how close we were to the Gaia tree. I caught a glimpse of it while grabbing my son. After cuddling Nanook, I took a moment to find a spot where the canopy opens enough to see the giant tree not too far away.
It is as they always are. Massive and mostly incomprensible. I can never imagine how the world would look from the top of one. Even in the enclave, the rooms only went about halfway up the trunk. As I stare, Nanook nuzzles me.
“Yes, yes, I’ll feed you now. You must be famished.” I notice someone staring and look over from Nanook, to see Otsu still there.
He smiles and turns away, before laying down on the ground for me. “Get up, I’ll carry you while you feed him.” I can never see his face when he talks.
Such a good, caring guy. I climb on his soft back, and start nursing my son. I’m always surprised at how gentle the ride is, and how much faster we’re moving by comparison to everyone else. At times like these, it’s a blessing, and it allows us to catch back up to our position in the caravan line.
“Why did you join the caravan?” Maybe I shouldn’t ask this, but he’s the only male bearfolk in the caravan. I’m curious why he would go around from place to place as directed by Gaia.
“My life… was a gift. It was a mercy. I should have died to my wife back then. The Arbitrator saved me, and said that Gaia had plans for me. I don’t have a place among the bearfolk anymore. Where else would I go? There was no other place.”
That was not what I was expecting. To be honest, I’m not sure I was thinking of anything other than he’s so nice, why doesn’t he have a wife already? If he has a wife, why is he traveling with us?
“I don’t understand bearfolk culture.” It’s so convoluted.
“Why do wives kill their husbands?” If you love someone, what is the purpose of killing them?
“There are many reasons. Not enough food to feed the children. The husband won’t listen. Husband does something dishonorable. Many reasons.” He’s speaking quietly enough that others can’t hear us, but loud enough for me.
“Why did she try to kill you?”
“Because I was alive.”
“I’m sorry.” He must not want to talk about it. I’m still trying to understand this culture of secrets. In the enclave, nothing was hidden. Something like the reason a person acted a specific way would be readily apparent.
“I’m sorry…” I bend over and press my face into his furry back.
“Ouch! Nanook!” That hurt! I’m sorry I startled you, but you still don’t need to bite!
Author’s Note: Thanks for the support! I am in your care! DAW. Babies are cute, until they poo, that is.