PART TWO: ANAMNESIS
Chapter XXII: Translations Of Anaisms And Thorinisms
It took a good half hour to calm Mom down. I had to promise her that Thorin and I would spend the night at least. She ushered us to the showers, where she gave us a change of clothes each. I had to explain to Thorin how a shower worked before taking my own. As I stood in the shower, watching the blood and grime disappear down the drain, I realized that I had forgotten how beautiful showers with shampoo and conditioner were. I spent a good half hour just soaking in the beauty of a shower. Then, I dressed in my old clothes—black jeans and a gray shirt, clothes that wouldn't seem ridiculously out of place in Middle Earth if I were to Skip. When I emerged from the shower, I found Thorin waiting for me, dressed in my father's black jeans and white t-shirt. Thanks to those dwarvish genes, my dad and Thorin were the same height, though Thorin had broader shoulders.
Before Thorin and I could have a conversation about how to deal with our predicament, Mom appeared and graciously offered to make us coffee and we settled down at the kitchen table to wait until dad arrived home. Using eye contact alone (because that is something we are totally capable of doing), Thorin and I agreed to wait until my dad's arrival to convince him that we must return to Middle Earth—in the meantime, we would pretend to have been subdued by my mother's meddling.
"By the way," I said, drumming my fingers against the edge of the tabletop. "How did you steal the Senturiel from me?"
"Huh? Oh. I undid the clasp when I was hugging you." Mom (that devilish woman!) paused as she pulled two mugs from the cupboard. "Thorin, would you like some?"
"Coffee," I said. "She's offering you coffee."
The frown did not disappear in the slightest and Thorin asked, "What is coffee?"
I gasped and slammed my hands down on the tabletop. "Thorin to-be-Oakenshield. Do you mean to tell me that you have never tasted the wonders of coffee?"
"I come from Middle Earth," said Thorin. "Coffee is not in existence there."
"Mother!" I cried. "Make this poor, uncultured dwarf a cup of coffee."
A faint smile flickered across my mother's face as she pulled a third mug out of the cupboard. "If I remember correctly, you said that Boromir didn't like coffee."
"Boromir is even more uncultured than Thorin," I said. I leaned back in my chair and folded my arms over my chest.
"I did not think Boromir met you parents," said Thorin.
"He didn't," I said. "Boromir stayed in my apartment. I just told my parents about him later."
Thorin raised his eyebrows, but said nothing.
The coffee pot made a clicking sound to signal that it was finished. Mom started pouring the dark brown liquid into the coffee mugs.
"Sugar? Milk? Cream?" she asked.
Thorin glanced at me. I grinned. "Put milk and sugar in. We should be nice on his first time trying coffee."
Mom laughed as she moved to the fridge to get the milk. I glanced at Thorin and saw that he was looking at me pointedly. (Translation: What are we going to do about the Senturiel?) I jerked my chin upwards ever so slightly. (Translation: It's a process. I'm working on it.) Thorin frowned. (Translation: Work faster.)
"Ana started drinking coffee at such a young age," said Mom, closing the fridge with her knee as she carried the milk contain across the kitchen to pour some into her and Thorin's mugs.
"I think I was nine," I said, thoughtfully.
"It stunts your growth," said Mom.
"That's probably why I'm so short!" I cried. "No! My dear sweet coffee has damned me to a life of shortness!"
"I think you height might have to do with your dwarvish grandfather than your coffee drinking habits," said Thorin.
"Yeah," I said. "But I'm three-quarters human. You'd think I would at least be taller than you."
"Then perhaps the coffee has taken affect," said Thorin. He accepted a cup of coffee, filled with milk and sugar, from Mom.
"I started drinking coffee to deal with my bizarre sleep schedule," I said. My mother handed me a cup of black coffee. I blew lightly on the surface of the drink and then grinned across the table. "I would Skip at night sometimes and not return until morning. Going two days without sleep was hard enough for me—there were times when I went four days without sleep because I would Skip to Mirkwood or the Misty Mountains and spend days trying to escape the clutches of goblins and spiders." I trailed off when I realized that my mother was listening. Thorin may have been used to my life-or-death situations, but Mom certainly wasn't.
I glanced at her, but her back was turned to me. She was standing over the kitchen counter, her hands curled around her own coffee mug. There was a slight tremor to her shoulders—I had upset her again.
Grimacing, I glanced at Thorin. (Translation: If this continues, she won't ever give us the Senturiel.) Thorin scowled. (Translation: This is your fault.) I bit my lip. (Translation: I know! I don't meant to!)
Mom turned around and beamed at me. "So what have you been up to, Ana? Besides fighting wars?"
"Uh." I took a sip of the scalding coffee in an attempt to avoid speaking.
"We lived in Bree for some time," said Thorin calmly. "I worked as a blacksmith."
"A blacksmith?" said Mom.
"Yes," said Thorin. "In Erebor, we are taught the art of crafting from a young age. Compared to managing the forges of Erebor, where we dealt with gold, silver, and precious gems, a blacksmith's work with iron is a simple task."
I coughed as the inside of my mouth burned. "Yeah."
"And Ana helped you in Bree?" asked Mom.
"No," said Thorin. "I would never trust her in my workshop."
Mom let out a twittering laugh. "Good point. I don't even allow Ana into my kitchen."
"I prepared all our meals," said Thorin.
"Hey!" I cried. "Don't talk about me like that—I'm competent in other things, okay?"
Both Thorin and Mom gave me pitying glances. I buried my face in my hands and groaned, while my mother laughed. I peered out from behind my fingers at Thorin. (Translation: She's warming up to you.) Thorin inclined his head ever so slightly. (Translation: We need to retrieve the Senturiel.)
I lifted my head from my hands and smiled at Mom. "So what have you and Dad been up to?"
"Huh?" Mom took a sip of her coffee. "Well, your dad has expanded the store."
"Really?" I cried, leaning forward. "That's great. So it's not just in Ohio anymore?"
"Michigan as well." Mom glanced at Thorin and said, "I don't know if Ana's told you, but Galin and his business partner own a jewelry store."
Thorin raised his eyebrows. "Of course, Ana's father is descended from dwarves. A love for gemstones and precious metals must be inherited."
"Ah." I pointed at Thorin. "That explains why I was so reluctant to give future-you the Arkenstone. My dwarf senses must have been tingling."
"No," said Thorin. "You are simply an idiot."
I turned to Mom, expecting her to defend me against Thorin's blatant bullying, but instead, a haunted expression had crossed her face. I realized that perhaps talking about Middle Earth had caused her to remember by inevitable return. I waved my hand in front of her face—I couldn't allow Mom to feel sad, partly because she needed to return the Senturiel and partly because I couldn't stand to see that expression on her face.
"Mom! Mom!" I cried. "When's Dad getting home?"
"Any time now," said Mom—and she sunk further into depression.
Watery-eyed and open-mouthed, I turned helplessly to Thorin. (Does this really need translating?)
"Lexie," said Thorin, addressing my mother with his usual calm, majestic manner. "Ana and I will not depart this world until tomorrow. We promised you this and we have no intention of doing otherwise."
I breathed a sigh of relief as I saw that Thorin's words had cheered my mother up a little. She settled into the seat between Thorin and me.
"You really should see Bonnie and Nick," said Mom. "They must miss you terribly."
"I've seen them," I said. "At some point in their futures."
Mom frowned, but all conversation was brought to a crashing halt by the sound of the front door opening. Mom turned around in her seat while I remained completely still. My heart had dropped through my stomach as I watched the short man in a gray business suit step through the hallway and into the kitchen. He stopped in his tracks when he realized that there were guests at the table and then Dad recognized me.
I grinned. "Hey, Daddy. I missed you."
It took him four long strides to cross the room and wrap his arms around me. We remained like that for a minute, remembering what each other's hugs felt like. Then, Dad released me and settled into the chair across from Mom.
Dad glanced at Thorin, taking in the jeans and shirt that Thorin wore. "I see we are the same size. I'm Ana's father, Galin son of Geirfast the Stonebiter."
"The half-dwarf," said Thorin, nodding. "I am Thorin son of Thrain, King Under the Mountain."
"The full-dwarf," said Dad.
They looked at one another for a long moment and then Dad turned to me.
"I like him," said Dad. "I didn't like any of the other males you brought home, but I like this one."
I groaned. "Thorin's not a boyfriend, Dad."
"You have brought Nick home," said Dad. "And I did not like Nick." Dad turned to Thorin and added, "Nick is a nancy boy."
Thorin nodded. "I have encountered Nick. That is, indeed, an accurate description."
"You don't even know what 'nancy' means," I said.
Thorin ignored me and addressed my dad. "Ana has brought home other males?"
"Yes, yes," said Dad. "Earth is very odd about male-female relationships. They have these 'trial periods' where a male and female or male and male or female and female 'date' And after they have developed a relationship, if they have not 'broken up', they become engaged and after that they are married. Ana has had many of these trial periods, but they have all ended with her and the male breaking up."
"Earth romantic relationships are, indeed, strange," said Thorin.
I snorted. "You're the strangest of all."
"Let me see," said Dad, leaning back in his chair. "First there was Wesley in fifth grade. He looked like a shrew and he broke up with Ana after she missed his birthday party."
I buried my face in my hands and groaned. "Dad. We are not going over my miserable dating history."
"Then there was David in middle school," said Dad, continuing as if I had not spoken. "That boy was taller than me when he was thirteen. It was unacceptable."
"Mom was taller than you when she was thirteen," I muttered.
"Ana broke up with David because he told her that there was no such things as dwarves," said Mom.
"Ah yes," said Dad. "I remember that. Ana came home crying from school that day."
Mouth hanging open, I looked across the table at Thorin. (Translation: Help me!) Thorin smirked. (Translation: No. I am having far too much fun.) I slammed my forehead against the table and groaned. (Translation: I am the image of despair.)
"Eleventh grade was Aiden," said Dad.
"No!" I wailed, covering my ears with my hands. "I hate that name!"
"They dated for a couple months," said Mom. "Until Aiden told Ana that she was too distant and he had started seeing someone else."
"Not my fault," I said. "That was the month that I Skipped to Rohan in the nude and Eomer kept me in prison for three days."
Mom frowned. "You Skipped to Rohan in the nude?"
I grinned sheepishly. "I was taking a shower."
"Besides Nick," said Dad. "I think Aiden was the last boy you brought home."
"Did you date any others?" asked Mom.
"Yeah," I said miserably. "I had one date with my neighbor, Jack. I Skipped in the middle of our date and he never forgave me. Oh and then there was Raoulidor." I laughed.
"Raoulidor?" repeated Mom.
"The Ghost King," said Thorin.
"Yeah," I said. "The stalker ex-boyfriend who I never dated."
"You have the strangest relationships with the people of Middle Earth." A faint smile crossed Thorin's face, but it quickly disappeared when he remembered what awaited us back in the Misty Mountains and that we were sitting in my parents' kitchen, not helping his kin.
I finished off my coffee, but kept my hands wrapped around the curve of the mug. I took a deep breath and then said then next few words as calmly as I could, "Dad, Thorin and I need to return to Middle Earth."
"You promised," gasped Mom. "You said you would stay the night."
"We cannot," said Thorin.
Dad looked from me to Thorin to Mom, a frown fixed on his face. "I am not certain what is going on here?"
"Mom took the Senturiel," I said, sounding like a little kid. "And she won't give it back."
"Lexie," said Dad.
"You don't understand!" Mom's hands were curled into fists. "When they came here, they were dressed in full battle armor. They were covered in blood and dirt and they looked as though they had not seen a house in weeks."
"Months," I corrected automatically.
Mom paled at the idea. "You cannot do that, Ana! Wars—wars are terrible things."
"I know," I said, dully. "I know that very well."
Mom looked as though she might protest more, but Dad cut into the conversation with his usual even tone. "I think that it would be bad to part on poor terms."
"What?" I stared across the table at Thorin, but he had the same puzzled, uncomprehending expression as me.
"I understand, Ana," said Dad. "That you and Thorin have to return to Middle Earth, but you have obligations here. You have only just seen us again after four years and we have no idea as to when you will see us again. We deserve some time with you, Ana."
"Ah." I hesitated.
"Did you think that I would take your side?" asked Dad.
Slowly, I nodded. "You usually take my side. What happened to all those times when we agreed that it would our job to tone down Mom's frantic nature? When she wanted to go over the top on my first day of high school with banners and ribbons—and you told her that it would only embarrass me?"
Thorin raised his eyebrows. (Translation: Do you require your mother's help to embarrass yourself?)
Dad ran his fingers through his short, brown hair. "You are my daughter, Ana. Do you think that I would so easily allow my daughter to return to a war-torn world?"
"You came from that war-torn world," I said.
"I came from Bree," said Dad. "I worked for my father. Yes, there were dark stirrings in Middle Earth at that time, but I never had to wield a weapon. I understand that you chose this path, but I cannot help but think of you as that little girl who still needs her parents' guidance." Dad glanced to his right where Thorin was majestically observing our exchange. Dad smiled. "I apologize. It must be uncomfortable to witness a family argument."
"It is Ana," said Thorin, as though that explained everything. He turned his blue eyes to me and I knew exactly what he was thinking. Even though he spoke like that, calm and enduring, Thorin was impatiently waiting for me to convince my parents to hand over the Senturiel.
I grimaced. (Translation: I'm sorry. I'm trying.)
"One day," said Thorin, suddenly. "We may stay for one day."
I smiled at him, but he was not looking at me. Instead, his sharp eyes were fixed on my mom.
"Ana has to visit Bonnie and Nick first," said Mom, stubbornly.
"We can do that in a day," I said, hurriedly. I turned back to my parents. "You get one day, do you understand? One day."
The rest of the evening was the epitome of awkward. I don't even know how to describe it to you. Dad and Thorin, surprisingly, ran along the same wavelengths and they enjoyed a conversation about how bizarre Earth customs are compared to Middle Earth customs. As my dad explained the scandalous ways of Victoria's Secret, my mom and I prepared dinner. The conversation between us was dead silent since I was still mad at her for stealing the Senturiel and Mom was mad at me for wanting to leave. She was also mad at Thorin for involving me with a war. Throughout the night, she kept shooting Thorin venomous glares, to which he remained impervious.
When dinnertime finally came around, I had to deal with my dad sharing my most embarrassing stories with Thorin. Such as the time I ate one of the quarters that Mom had given me to pay the pool entry fee and, as punishment, Dad told me that quarters are poisonous, causing me to cry for four hours straight. (I still haven't forgiven Dad for that.)
Mom remained silent throughout most of the dinner, speaking only so she could make jabs that Thorin.
"Your hair is too long, Thorin," said Mom as she violently cut a piece of shish-kebab pork in half. "It looks scruffy and you might be mistaken for a homeless midget." She pointed her fork at Thorin. "I could cut it for you. I'm really good with scissors."
Before Thorin could respond, I gasped loudly, causing everyone present to turn and stare at me.
I pressed my hands to the sides of my head and said, "Cut Thorin's majestic locks? Blasphemy! Never. No. You must never touch the majestic locks. Everything about Thorin is perfect—from his beard to his long, beautiful hair. How could you dare suggest change to that majestic appearance?"
"He looks scruffy," said Mom stubbornly.
Thorin raised his eyebrows. "Ana, are you saying that without my hair and beard, I would be less majestic?"
I made a strange choking sound. "No! Thorin, I would never think such a thing—but the hair!"
At this point, I realized that both Thorin and my dad were laughing at me—in their own ways. Thorin was smirking ever so slightly and my father was smiling silently. My eyes narrowed and I glowered at them from across the table.
That pretty much summarizes the night, Mom making quips about Thorin, me defending Thorin, and Thorin and Dad quietly laughing about it. Arg! Thorin plus my parents equaled disaster!
But at the same time, I couldn't help but feel warm. My mom and dad were back. If I wanted to, I could hold out my arms and they would embrace me—warm and welcoming, the home I had known since childhood. And Thorin was there. Talking to my parents. And getting along with, well, one of them. My chest felt warm.
It was a relief when Thorin and I were able to leave my parents company. I brought Thorin upstairs and showed him the red, gray, and white guest room in which he would be staying. Thorin examined the room carefully—everything from the dark wood dresser to the queen-sized bed. He paused at the mirror and stared at himself in the reflection. I found it amusing to see Thorin in modern day clothing—jeans and a t-shirt didn't fit his image at all. Nevertheless, he still managed to look majestic.
Minutes passed in silence. As I stared at Thorin in the mirror, it occurred to me that he was staring back at me through the glass. Unlike dinner, where Thorin had been all warmth and laughter, there was now an edge to his gaze.
Finally, Thorin turned away from the mirror to look directly at me. "A day is too long to wait."
"I know," I said. "But Mom won't give me back the Senturiel before then."
Thorin grimaced. "You are a fool."
I jumped a little and stared at him with wide, blinking eyes. "I'm sorry."
His scowl deepened. "How could you let her take the Senturiel so easily?"
"She's my mom." I bristled at the accusation in his tone. "It's not like expected her to steal from me."
"We must return," said Thorin. He moved to rest a hand on top of the dresser. "A day is too long."
"I know, I know, I know." I pressed my fist to my forehead and released a short, hard breath. "But look at me. They're my parents and I miss them."
"And you do not think that I miss my father and brother?" asked Thorin sharply. "They were wounded and besieged. What about Knute, Nam, and Alaric? Do they not concern you, Ana? Are you really such a coward that you would use your mother as an excuse not to return?" He slammed his hand down on top of the dresser.
"Thorin!" My throat was thick and I had to swallow several times to keep back the tears that were threatening to spill. Thorin didn't get mad at me—not in this way.
"I told you not to use the Senturiel," said Thorin. "You left this world behind two and a half years ago. You said so yourself—it was your decision. So why, Ana, do you insist upon returning? Why use the Senturiel? Do you seek to torment yourself with reminders of what you left behind?" Thorin removed his hand from the dresser and turned to face me. "If you want to remain on Earth, that is fine. I have no place to object to your decision. However, I must return to Middle Earth."
I slapped Thorin.
Yes. It's true. I slapped that majestic face and I don't regret it in the slightest. He deserved it.
"Don't you think about me at all?" I asked. I tried to wipe away the tears, but they just kept running. "I was going to die if I hadn't Skipped right then. Azog was going to kill me. Yes, I depend on the Senturiel and I know I shouldn't, but I'm not a competent warrior—I need to Senturiel to save my life sometimes. And yes, I know that we have to go back. I know why we need to go back and I'm in pain every second that we don't go back. I need to know what happened to Frerin. I need to know if Alaric, Knute, and Nam are alright—but at the same time, Thorin, these are my parents. My parents. I love them. Do you know how difficult it is for me to simply tell them that I need to leave so soon? Do you know that every time I have to think of leaving them again, I feel as though I might break?"
I stepped for a second so that I could wipe my nose with the back of my hand. I expected Thorin to launch some counter argument, but he did not speak. He just watched me with those cold, blue eyes.
"Stupid," I said. "Stupid. How dare you talk to me about staying here!" I prodded Thorin in the chest and glared up at him. "I gave up so much for Middle Earth. I gave up so much for you. I tried to save you—do you think I want you to die that way? I want you to be happy; I want you to live a long life as the King Under the Mountain. I want all the wealth in Erebor to be yours. But you know as well as I that it cannot happen. I don't fully understand it, but I will in time, that your death is crucial to the destruction of the Ring. So you have to die and I have to let it happen. And I left my home for you. And when I found you in Bree, you have no idea how happy I was. The moment I found you, any thoughts of returning to Earth were gone. Because it's frigging you, you stupid idiot moron. It's you. Urg. I hate you, you majestic idiot."
At this point, I had run out of steam and I just stood there, in the guest bedroom, crying until my eyes burned and my nose was clogged.
"Even when you are trying to insult me, you still compliment me."
Thorin placed a large, warm hand on top of my head and he leaned forward until his forehead rested against mine.
"You still look ugly when you cry," he said.
"Shut up." I scrunched up my pink eyes. Our faces were so close together.
"I apologize," said Thorin.
I glared at him. "For what? Being stupid or calling me ugly?"
"For my insensitive comments," said Thorin. "I refuse to apologize for calling your crying face ugly, though—that was a statement of truth."
"So mean." I punched him lightly in the stomach and, smirking, Thorin pulled away from me.
"I need to go see Bonnie and Nick tomorrow," I said. "Want to come?"
Thorin glanced at me. "What else would I do?"
I smiled as I moved towards the door. "We'll leave early in the morning. The sooner we see them, the sooner we can return to Middle Earth." I hesitated before exited the room. "'Night, Thorin."
He raised his eyebrows. (Translation: Good night, Ana.)