I stared longingly at the ray of sunlight glinting through the small kitchen window. It danced on my hands as they chopped up green peppers. It’s light reflected on the blade and hopped around my face.
I sighed. It was the third day of my breakfast-sentence. When Diya found out about our excursion she’d only nodded grimly. I’d expected her to rage and yell, but she told me I have punishment enough. The inky lines of the symbol above my navel was just as dark as it had been that day.
I haven’t spoken nor seen Bevan since. My state of worry increased every time I thought about it. What had his father done? Surely he’d have tried to contact me since then.
As though in retaliation, a dull soft clack sounded against the wall next to the window. I looked up, narrowly missing my little finger with the knife. A few moments later the clack sounded again and I put down the carving knife.
Through the little window I saw the downtrodden figure of Bevan staring up at me. He let a small pebble drop in relief and stood a few steps back, clutching his right arm with the newly freed left one. I hurried through the backdoor to our vegetable patch beside which he was standing. As I drew nearer I saw his eyes were a murky grey, distraught with fatigue and wariness. He was panting, a gloomy smile on his face.
“I did it,” he said, looking up at me idly as I rushed to him. His voice was higher than usual and he spoke in a fast, jumpy way. “I stood up to him.”
“What?” I asked distractedly, looking closely at his arm.
“He went blazing,” he said, almost amusedly. “He threw me through the table, then wrenched my arm up so I crashed into the wall. Ha ha, his face was all red.”
He sniggered as though it was the funniest thing in the world.
I ran my fingers over his arm. He grimaced.
“You must have broken it on the table,” I said softly, as he clutched at it again, a look of strain in his eyes.
“He threw me in the shed you know, with the spiders and scorpions. I smashed through it with my knuckles you know, after I realized he wasn’t coming back.”
And sure enough his knuckles were blistered and bloody, with splinters sticking out here and there.
“What’re you going to do Bevan?” I asked, my voice higher and more panicky than I could’ve managed normally. His father will be looking for him.
“Figured I’d go to the forest,” Bevan said carelessly, still in the high fast voice. “He hates it there, won’t go within five yards of the outer trees. He’s scared of it Astrid. Can you imagine that? Scared!” He laughed again.
“Bevan your arm is broken,” I said slowly, “your knuckles are bleeding and you sound as though you’re on the edge of sanity.”
“And your point is?” he asked, smiling with daring amusement.”
“You need help,” I exclaimed, “to fix your arm and keep your father away from you.”
“No one can do that Astrid,” he said, the strain in his eyes spreading further into his voice. He looked suddenly pleading.
“Okay,” I said, trying to comfort him, “go to the forest, but I have to tell someone.”
“No Astrid,” he said, grabbing my arm with his left.
“Astrid?” Diya called from the house.
“Why did you come then,” I asked hurriedly.
“I need you to tell me what’s going on once I’m in the forest,” he said quickly. “Please Astrid?” he begged. “You can’t tell anyone, promise me.
I looked at him resignedly. What else could I do?