"…And that is how the Flowers obtain nutrients." I looked around for more questions, feeling uncomfortable now that I had nothing more to say.
"Wanda? Will you tell us the story you told Jared?" Jamie asked excitedly, "You know, the one where you're going to the crystal city and the claw beast attacks you and hurts your friend and you save him?" I sighed. Ever since Jared had told him the story about my "heroic rescue" of Harness Light, Jamie had been insatiable. I must have already told him the story a dozen times. I didn't seem like he would ever get tired of it, even though he knew it by heart. I didn't see the appeal. I'd only done what I'd thought was necessary at the time. I didn't mean to be a hero; I just did what anyone else would do.
"Well…Umm…" I stalled, desperately looking for a way out. I didn't like telling that particular story. It made me feel embarrassed, and lately embarrassment made me want to run and hide. Thankfully, Someone came to my rescue.
"I think that's enough for the day," Ian said, standing up, "Wanda must be exhausted." I smiled gratefully. Ian always seemed to know when I was feeling shy or embarrassed. It was one of the many things I loved about him.
"It has been a long day," Trudy agreed.
"Go get some sleep. Tomorrow's gonna be just as long as today. Northeast Field needs planting," Jeb announced, ignoring the groans, and dismissed my class as only Jeb could. As people began to file out of the kitchen, Ian made his way over to me, and grabbed my tiny hands in his huge ones. He looked down at me, his blue eyes gentle. I held his gaze, heart fluttering, until shyness forced me to look away. I blushed. Ian bent down and brushed his lips against my cheek. I leaned into his chest, sighing contentedly.
"So," He whispered into my hair, "Are you ready to go to our room?"
Our room. OUR room. The room that Ian and I would be sharing. Together. I had waited a very long time for this (or at least it felt that way), ever since that first rainy night in the Game Room, when I learned once again that Ian would love me no matter what. But I was beginning to feel anxious. Fear and joy and shyness swirled together confusingly, creating new sensations that I couldn't even begin to decipher. I wasn't ready yet. That much was clear. I needed help. I gazed up at Ian, trying to find something in his face that could help me make sense of what I was feeling. It was no use. I would have to get help elsewhere.
"Go on ahead of me," I told him, "I…I'll be there in a minute." Ian nodded slowly.
"Ok. I'll be waiting." He kissed me lightly and turned to walk out of the kitchen. I waited until he was gone and then sat down on the nearest bench. I closed my eyes. Being in this body still felt new, and I often got my own feelings confused with Pet's body's reactions. Of course I was being too emotional, as always. Or was that just Pet? All I needed to do was sort through my brain and weed out anything that wasn't mine. Surely, then, I would understand what was holding me back.
"Big night tonight?"
I gasped startled, almost falling backward. I looked up to find Melanie standing over me. She had managed to sneak up on me again.
"Oh. I'm sorry. I scared you," she apologized, "Is something wrong?" She peered down at my face, holding my chin up to see it better. Even now that we didn't share a mind, she still somehow knew exactly how I felt or what I wanted. She was exactly the person I needed to talk to.
"Well." I answered, standing up, "I'm supposed to move in with Ian tonight."
"So then why are you still here?"
"I…well…I don't know, really," I stammered, utterly at a loss.
"Go on," she urged.
"I was just so happy, knowing that I would be living with him once the rains stopped, and I still am. But now… I feel sort of… afraid." Melanie nodded knowingly.
"Well of course you do. It's only natural that you would feel anxious right now. But don't worry. Everything will be great. You'll see."
"But-" I objected.
"NO BUT'S!" she cried, too loudly. I cringed back. "Wanderer," she continued, her voice much softer, "We can all see how much Ian loves you. He would do anything to make sure you are happy." I smiled up at her, reassured. She patted my head.
"That a girl," she said affectionately, "Now go. Don't keep Ian waiting!"
"Melanie?" I asked, embarrassed once again. There were other things that I didn't know. Things that I should know, given the circumstances. Things that left me confused and slightly alarmed.
"Umm… How do I…well…you know…" I trailed off lamely. And she laughed. She actually laughed.
"Oh, Wanda," She moaned, still chuckling, "You don't need me to tell you any of that. Just go with the flow. Live in the moment. Leave it to nature. You'll see what I mean."
"Oh," I said, not feeling anymore sure of myself. "Thank you. I guess."
"Don't mention it. Just remember to always be safe! Now get out of here!" She shoved me out of the kitchen and into the tunnel, where I staggered and fell. I quickly stood up and dusted myself off. Ian was waiting. I hurried down the tunnel, as fast as I could run without hurting myself. Finally, I reached the door to my room. His room. Our room. I took a deep breath, trying to slow my heartbeats to a reasonable level, and stepped inside.
Ian lay sprawled out on our mattress, fast asleep. I hadn't realized that he was more exhausted than I was. It didn't surprise me though. He had worked all day moving pieces of "furniture" halfway across the caves, while I had fluttered about, trying to make myself useful and failing miserably. Even the smallest jobs were considered to be too much work for my fragile little body. Any work I was given was almost immediately taken out of my hands. Ian worked so much harder than me, so much harder than everyone. I was so proud of him. He was so generous and good.
I lay down on the bed beside him and kissed his forehead. He shifted a little in his sleep. I felt silly for feeling doubtful before. I had no reason to worry about anything. Ian would do his very best to protect me. I moved even closer to him, resting my head on his chest.
"Sweet dreams, Ian," I whispered, closing my eyes. And feeling perfectly content, I let myself drift off.
And there you have it!
I WAS wondering if I should continue this story, but due to the huge amount of positive feedback I've been getting I decided that I would!
Chapter two is up! Yay!
Please read and review!!