Rain fell from the wee morning hours on. At times it merely sprinkled, but intermittently, it came in great gusts, beating down hard upon the earth before running off in rivulets.
A leak in the infirmary’s roof became obvious as an intruding drop or two eventually turned into a spot on the wood floor, and later, into a puddle. Basha placed a large earthenware pot down to catch the leakage.
Drip . . . drop. Drip . . . drop. Drip . . . drop. The sound the water made as it landed in the urn seemed to mimic a heartbeat.
Dixon sat at Mara’s bedside, holding her hand. He rubbed his forehead with his other hand.
“Dixon,” Basha interrupted his thoughts.
He didn’t look up.
“Dixon,” she said, now louder, “you’ve got to eat. You need to keep up your strength. Mara will need it when she regains consciousness.”
Still, he said nothing.
“Dixon,” she repeated. She put her hand on his shoulder.
He looked up, his eyes misted over.
She tilted her head to the side and looked deeply into his eyes. “She’s going to be fine. The sleep is good for her. She’s healing.”
He patted his thigh. He wanted to shout, but there was no one to shout at. He wanted to hit someone, but there was no one to blame. No one that was, but himself. He looked at the floor.
Basha sat at his side. She leaned in until her shoulder pressed against his. “Dixon, look at me,” she said, nudging him, then leaning away.
Shaking his head, he sighed. “It’s all my fault. I should never have let her go out. I should’ve kept her from . . .”
Basha was silent for a moment. Then she put her hand under his chin. Turning his head, forcing him to face her, she smiled wanly.
“Goodness, Dixon, sometimes I think the rest of us know her better than you do.”
His brow furrowed.
“You know very well that she wouldn’t have stayed behind.”
He looked away.
“Dixon, Mara is her own woman. She would have insisted on going along. Nothing you could have done would have changed that. With Carlie missing, and the intrusions into the compound, there are just too many unanswered questions. With all that’s been going on, neither you, nor anyone or anything else, could have stopped her.” She hesitated, then added, “And you know it.”
He sighed. “How are Reigna and Eden?”
He flinched, as though she’d slapped him.
“Dixon, they can’t bear to see you like this. That’s why I sent them away. They want to keep helping with Mara, but seeing you like this is just too much for them.”
“It’s all my fault.”
“You know better than that. You know better than to take on blame for the evildoing of others.”
He stood, then paced. “Why doesn’t she come to?”
Basha shrugged. “Why does the sun rise each day? Why do the moons light the night sky? Why—”
“She’s been out for three full days!”
“And you haven’t eaten in all that time—nor slept.”
He waved his hand, as though dismissing the issue.
“Dixon, you need to get out for a few minutes. Get some fresh air. Let the rain beat down upon your head. You’re going to make yourself sick if you keep this up. Then where will Reigna and Eden be? They’re depending on you.” She paused, sighing. “I’ll stay here. I’ll keep dropping water into her mouth to keep her hydrated.”
He winced. On one level he knew she was right, but he couldn’t bear to leave Mara’s side.
“Please . . . go. Step out that door,” Basha said, pointing. “I won’t move from her side. I promise.”
He looked at the ceiling, almost prayerfully. Then without another word, he went to the door and stepped out.
The rain fell in a torrent.
He took a few steps, then spread his arms out, lifted his face, and let the rain pour over himself.
Dear Ehyeh, bring her back to me!
He dropped his arms. He didn’t want to leave, but he knew Basha was right. He would need all his energy to seek out those who’d harmed his beloved . . . and then, he would kill them.
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