She had so completely ignored Shui, that her next awareness of him was when the grass beside her rustled and to her horror, Shui sat on his haunches beside her. He studied the flowers with genuine interest. When his shoulder touched Nala’s, she froze perceptually before moving away.
He shifted his gaze from the flowers to Nala and frowned. “Do you loathe me that much?”
“Absolutely. I hate you.”
“Such conviction,” he nodded, “you mean it.”
“Your point, Mi’Lord?”
Why am I so angry? she thought.
The last few days had been calm. She still tried killing him at any opportunity that presented itself, and he avoided each attempt. They still traded insults. Well, Admitted Nala, I still insulted him. He would wave her away in a nonchalant manner that infuriated her. She hadn’t been this angry in a while.
Why have I not been angry?
The answer, Nala refused to accept. If she accepted it, then a well of repressed feeling might surface, and Nala was not prepared to deal with that. She shook her head as if the action were punctuation to her thoughts, and looked to Shui, who still studied her.
Did nothing bother this man?
“Do you like the Cao Wo flower?”
The question surprised her, but she replied with her default derision. “My opinion of the Akonai flower is not your concern.”
He sighed. “Back to where we began.”
She wanted to tell him that they had begun nothing, but he turned back to the Akonai and asked, “These flowers are poisonous, why do you like them?”
“It matters not that they are poisonous. The Akonai flowers are beautiful. The poison protects them. It saves them from the selfishness of man who is eager to destroy every perfection they find.”
She turned to stare at the tended Akonai, gently blowing in the afternoon breeze. The sun was sinking below the horizon, it’s orange colors contrasting the field of violet flowers. The sight stole her breath as she stared wide-eyed at the unencumbered vista.
A sensation of having witnessed the same scene under a different sky at a different time consumed her. An otherworldly numbness overcame her. The afternoon breeze carried a voice on it she had not heard in years, but reverberated in her mind every night in an attempt to hold on to the faded memory. His deep baritone; a tone that had put her at ease.
The Akonai flower is poisonous, but it is in their nature, Nala. If they were not poisonous, how would they protect themselves?
“I know,” Nala whispered. She hoped that he would hear her reply again, but she knew he would not.
Each night, she would imagine the litany of things she would tell him.
I miss you…
I watch over Hazina like you did…
I want to feel your strong arms wrapped around me…
I became the woman I knew you would be proud of…
When I see the Akonai flower, my world ends, memories of you flooding like the Nile each season…
Which words could quantify the endless thoughts and emotions she coveted as the only remnant of him? No matter how much she prayed or cried, she would never see him again. Only in death would she be reunited with the man she called, Father…