Chapter 12: Blackberry Leaves
I woke up with my twin’s hand on my shoulder, with the smell of blackberry leaf tea coming from somewhere near my face. At some point while I was unconscious, someone- probably Storm or Scout- had moved me away from the wall and put bandages around my torso and lay me on my side with my cloak over me. I moved just a little bit, trying to look up, but the stinging pain in my back quickly told me I couldn’t.
“Careful, Gray,” Storm whispered. I opened my eyes. He was holding a hot metal cup filled with blackberry leaf tea near my face, letting it rest on the ground while his other hand kept resting over my shoulder. I stayed silent. Part of me felt like crying- my arms and legs ached and felt like there was sand or needles in my muscles, and my nose was running and itchy. And the pain on my back… it felt like there were needles going into it where the bandages met the wound from the storm. The skin still felt raw, as if my spine was exposed. But if that were the case, I doubted Storm, Scout, or Rune would be as calm as they were. Storm smiled at me when he saw my eyes were open, tilting his head a little bit. “How are you feeling?”
“...No,” I muttered, not being able to think of any other word to describe it.
“Is she awake?” Rune asked.
“Can she sit up and drink the tea?”
“Don’t think so. She tried but couldn’t.”
I watched as Rune knelt near my face, and lifted my cloak to look at the bandages. And I winced when both he and Storm drew in a sharp breath.
“You’ve already bled through them…” Storm whispered. “We need more bandages…”
“We didn’t bring enough,” Rune muttered.
“Scout knows how to make some.”
“Will they be good enough?”
“We don’t really have the time to be picky about this, Rune.”
Rune lowered his head, and walked into the other part of the shelter. Storm turned his attention back to me.
“Even if you can’t drink it, the smell of the tea should help you. And we’ve decided to go back to the Village as soon as you’re not bleeding through the bandages we have, so that mom can help you…”
“And what about the goat?” Rune asked.
“Are you serious, Rune?” Storm snapped, turning to Rune quickly.
“I just need a little bit more time to try to save it, maybe!” Rune explained quickly. “I made a lot of the tea- there’s enough for Gray, and for me to see if it’ll help the goat survive the journey!”
“Fine then, just do it quickly, Rune!” Storm said, growing more frustrated by the second. I closed my eyes, put my hand on his arm that was holding the cup, and smiled a little bit.
“Storm, I’m alive,” I whispered.
“Barely,” he growled. “Gray, I thought you stopped breathing at one point…”
“I’m breathing now…” I muttered. “Even if it hurts like a vice…”
“I should have taken your place…”
Rune cut in. “Storm, she was right. If the dust got in we all could have gotten sick.”
Storm growled a little bit, but he knew that Rune and I were right. And I didn’t regret staying where I had been, even with all of the pain.
“Storm…?” I whispered.
“Is Scout okay?”
“He’s fine. He’s out fishing again, trying to get enough to fill us up for the trip back to the village, and then he’s going to make some bandages for you. He got a few scratches but he’s not sick, thankfully.”
I nodded, closing my eyes again and drifting off to sleep as I heard Rune moving around in the other part of the house. As I rested, I was vaguely aware of movements around me, but ignored them until my cloak was fully lifted off of my back, and I heard Scout talk.
“It seems to have dried up… you should have taken the bandages off sooner…”
I opened my eyes to look at Storm, who looked more than a little ashamed.
“Sorry, I… I’ve been panicking a lot…”
“It’s understandable,” Scout said to reassure him. “You two are rarely apart for long. I just hope that you don’t end up hurting more because of that.”
Storm lowered his head. “Yeah…”
Scout looked at me and smiled a little bit. “You’ll be fine, Gray. Rune?”
“How much tea is left?”
“Still a lot, the goat didn’t drink much…”
“We’ll use that to get the bandages off of Gray, then. Bring it over here.”
Scout gently pulled me so that I was lying on my stomach, and I heard him pull out a knife, and then felt him tugging at the bandages on one side. I winced as the bandages lifted at the edges of my wound.
“Storm, can you soak this cloth in the tea?”
I watched as Storm started to slowly dunk the rag in what was left of the tea. The cup that had been near my face was still a little warm, as was the tea in the pot that Rune had handed off to Storm and Scout. It would still help me get better, even if it was cold. As soon as they were done I planned to finish up what I could before we left.
Scout finished lifting the edges of the bandages, and I felt a little blood run down my side. Scout took the rag from Storm and pressed it to the edges of the wound and began lifting it slowly as the blood that had glued the bandages to the wound began to soften and come loose. And soon, my back was moist enough to where I couldn’t even tell whether it was blood on my back.
Scout put soft cloth on the wound directly. “Gray, I need you to start trying to sit up, okay?”
“Alright,” I said. I fought against the aches and pushed myself up, and folded my legs under me so that I was sitting. I was shaking, but it wasn’t the worst feeling, though I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to walk back to the Village or not. Scout wrapped the bandages around my bare torso and made sure they were fastened.
“When are we leaving?” I asked, picking up the cup as soon as he was done and settling into a more comfortable sitting position.
“As soon as you’re done with that,” Scout said.
I took my time drinking the tea in the cup, and Rune let the goat drink the rest of it. Then, we all packed up, and Storm carried me and my bag, and Rune carried the goat as we set off.