The rest of the morning transpired smoothly. Grueling grunt work didn't require a brain, so Leigh was able to shut his off and not have to think or worry while he worked. And, work he did. After corraling all of the kids and sending them off to go pester their mother, Leigh and his father busied themselves with dragging in the drying logs from last week's culling in the nearby forest. The thick trees has been soaked by clouds that turned angry a couple nights before and spilled its contents onto the town and the areas surrounding it. It was an occupational hazard of being a coastal village. While the logs themselves dried out quickly enough, the ground did not, instead preferring to soak up every last drop of moisture to then turn them into a disgusting mess of sludge and grime.
The caravan of supplies couldn't wait for the ground to dry, however, so that was their situation for gathering the logs: mindless and grueling. But, it gave Leigh precious time to be alone with his thoughts. Or, rather, it gave his thoughts precious time to occupy his mind when he wasn't paying attention. As of late, he preferred that to the mind numbing pestering of his parents or the kids. They each had their own unique way of annoying him. His mother with questions about girls, his father with musings of the future or talks of the town which gave Leigh a headache, and the kids incessant questions about anything and nothing in particular. He withstood the badgering as he always had, but it begun to wear on him as of late.
As they piled the logs onto the end of the wagon and begun strapping them in, Leigh prepared himself for another onslaught of interrogation. He wondered who it would be next.
"So, Leigh. Son." His father, Krieves, pounded the last log into place and leaned on it for support to gain his breath back. Of course, being old and out of breath didn't stop him from asking questions. "Will any of the little ones be going with us to the city?"
"No, not until the bridge is complete." Leigh replied succinctly as he tossed rope to the other side of the wagon, where his father caught it.
"Right, right. Shame. I know they really want to see the progress everyone's made on it." He said, his words dripping with sadness but ending with a tinge of pride for what he's been able to achieve. "Ah, well, it will be finished soon. Especially with these supplies." He patted the caravan and chuckled. "I hope they'll love it there."
"They will, Apa." Leigh gestured to accept the rope back. Krieves looked lost for a moment before realizing what he was doing, or supposed to, in the moment. He hooked the rope through a metal loop attached to the base of the wagon and tossed it back over to Leigh, who moved to the front of the wagon.
His father laughed his moment of forgetfulness and tightened the roped on his side before he looked at Leigh and started on one of his tangents. "You'll be coming with me to the city, though, right? The roads are so lonely when you're trekking it... well, alone..." and he continued on with this train of thought before switching to one about the statue of the twin water gods being built in the city square.
His father was definitely the easiest to manage out of the family, since he often trailed off and onto his own tangents. His father was a person who focused on the big picture, and sometimes that led him to lose himself in the moment to something larger than life. It suited him, and he was well suited to help build Diajaveer. It wasn't the life for Leigh.
To be honest, he didn't know what kind of life was for him, or what he wanted out of life. How could one think of the future when they were still so solidly stuck in the past?
The morning went by with the same kind of energy as most mornings did, and Leigh managed to keep the amount of pestering from his Apa as low as possible. It was the main reason he spent his daytime with his father for the most part; he was the one who asked the least questions. That was why he was Leigh's favorite. Perhaps it was because they knew each other the best. It made sense, Leigh supposed, since his father was the first one who encountered him...
That was one thought he refused to entertain. He had spent far too long of his time growing up dwelling on that, to no avail. He would not continue to do so.
After the logs were securely fastened onto the wagon and the wagon itself moved back into town, it was time for breakfast. First, though, Leigh led the children through the process of feeding the variety of farm animals first, as was tradition. These very animals fed the town, so it was important to keep them well-fed, before their own wants. Through the entire arduous process, Leigh could smell the tantalizing food Vera was cooking, as the sizzling sounds from the house carried the scent with them all throughout the farm. He could tell the kids felt the same, but they were far worse at keeping it from affecting them. The older ones had a constant frown on their face while doing the chores and the younger ones were furiously fidgeting in their boots and audibly complaining about the situation they were forced to be in. Leigh had told them, time and time again, about why they did this. He had explained bluntly, carefully, elaborately, and countless other ways, but it did not matter; the outcome was the same every single day.
So, today, he decided not to say a single word to the children, and his focus was on getting the chore done. He would rebuke them silently if they started "wandering" over to the home or getting too pushy with the animals, but he didn't try to assist them or help them understand their feelings. He didn't know what changed within him, but he was just not in the mood to try this time around. Maybe it was because he was stuck inside his mind too much to worry about others.
Ah, well, he didn't need to try to understand this feeling; he just needed to go through the motions and try again tomorrow. After all, tomorrow he would be in the city, away from his siblings and parents. Maybe he would be able to do something he wanted while in Diajaveer. What... did he want to do in the city? His life had been so completely and utterly focused on people and things around him that he rarely had time to himself.
What would he do in Diajaveer? His mind wandered over to one possibility, but he couldn't even get himself to think it in more than the deepest, darkest corners of his mind, lest he hear Vera's voice in his mind badgering him, telling him that was not what she had in mind from their discussion earlier in the day.
Thankfully, his mind kept him occupied through the rest of the feeding, including the family meal. His mother didn't really pay attention to him, which meant she was still a little hurt by his outburst in the morning. Then again, he was still hurt by her insisting on having that conversation, despite his objections that they positively never have that conversation ever. Leigh barely thought himself more than a tool for his family, acting as a worker, a farmer, and a psuedo parent. How could he think about possibly wooing a woman? The thought was completely unappealing to him. It took him several years to finally find a rhythm for himself. It may be boring, dull, and irritating at times, but it was constant, and that was enough for him. Why couldn't it be enough for his family?
Finally, when food cleared and conversation emptied, Krieves wiped his mouth with a handtowel and sighed contentedly. "This was lovely as usual, Vera." Vera smiled warmly. "Isn't that right, children?" The kids all agreed in their own, youthful ways. It was grating and cute at the same time. It had been awhile, but Leigh was sure he wasn't this annoying when he was their age. Then again, they didn't have to live through their adolescence under the constant threat of war, so they could enjoy the small things in life, even if it did come at the detriment of Leigh's sanity.
Krieves cleared his throat. "All right, I think it's time to get back to work. We still have some barrels of hay to load onto the wagon, and daylight is wasting." He set his cup down and gave a weary chuckled to fill the silence in the room. "The work never ends." He ended that with a knowing glance to his wife. Leigh resisted the terrible urge to scoff. The work never ended because they always found something else to do, or something, someone, else to fix. Luckily, Leigh was more than enough person to fix to last the rest of their lifetime. An insidious part of his mind wondered how long that would be. They were good to him, and, although he didn't want to admit it, good for him.
That dark part continued the train of thought with wondering how much time he carved from their lives with his own, like a soul-sucking parasite. There was a reason he was alive, but he had to wonder if his reason for being was at the cost of his parents' wellbeing and generosity. It was a question he had been too scared to ask his parents but more than able to interrogate his own mind with for the better part of his life.
He left the burning question to torture his mind for more time and wordlessly followed his father out of the house.