By the morning of the third day after Mara passed out, Dixon felt sick with worry. As he’d repeatedly done over the past days, he once again dropped water into her mouth and as before, she didn’t swallow. Droplets ran down her neck. Gently, he wiped her dry, and then he tried again . . . and again . . . and yet again, praying all the while.
Finally, around noon, her fingers moved jerkily.
“Mara!” he exclaimed. “Can you hear me? Mara?” He shook her gently. “Come back . . . Please, come back to me.”
She breathed in deeply.
Her eyes twitched.
“Wake up. Wake up,” he urged.
“I’m sorry. What did you say?” he asked.
“Th. . . irsty,” she said, opening her eyes.
He grabbed his canteen. “I’m so sorry. I tried and tried to get you to drink, but . . . I just couldn’t. Here.” He handed the canteen to her.
She reached up, but before taking it, dropped her hand. “Th— I’m thirsty.”
“May I?” he asked, making his intentions clear.
Almost imperceptibly, she nodded.
He tilted her head back and trickled water into her mouth. She swallowed, then coughed. He waited. When with a nod, she indicated her readiness for more, he tried again.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
He trickled more water into her mouth. This time she swallowed easily. A minute later, he gave her more.
Gradually, she revived. She tried to sit up.
“No, wait, you’re too weak.”
She waited several minutes before trying again. When finally she did, and was nearly in a seated position, he placed his hand at the small of her back and urged her forward.
Her eyes flashed his way. Her brow furrowed.
“What? What is it?” Is she remembering something? Or doesn’t she know who I am again?
She shook her head soundly, as though clearing it of debris. “Nothing.”
“Are you feeling any better?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Several quiet minutes passed. Little by little, the color returned to her cheeks and her eyes grew clearer.
“More please.” She reached for the canteen.
“I can help.”
“I’ve got it now.”
He handed it to her.
She took a good long drink. When finished, she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “Better.”
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