A good time to run away is when, as you lie with open wounds on your bed, somebody comes along with hot water and disinfectant and a face towel. This was my situation. Ailis appointed herself nurse over me and began dabbing my sore with a solution that irked the nerves aplenty, at once boiling and irritating them, such that even if sanitation was the overall idea, I would have preferred to become a troll. I would have run away, but for the twisted left ankle - which, the more I felt it out, must have torn something in there. So, immobilized, I had to make do with groaning, sweating at the nose and clenching my jaws and she had barely begun.
“So!" said Ailis, sharply, with a suspect smile. “You were running at night... why?”
I should have gathered form her tone that nonsense wouldn't do, but in my folly, I tried to confound her with a barrage of vague hot air, in-mixed with a story about my fitness regimen. Then I wasted my best charming smile on her.
She lunged at me! Mayday! screamt Alter Ego, Pinned down! And she compressed that abominable liquid heat against my wounded wrist! Pain crashed throughout my entire system's everywhere; I convulsed and jerked and swore and spun until I eventually extricated my arm from purgatory. Then I gave her a wounded stare, aiming for the pity vote. My moist eyes should have helped. “Be gentle!I protested, in falsetto for added impact.
But Ailis dumped the cloth back in the steaming bucket and asked, in a flat tone, “Were you fighting?”
It was true, but... Wrong Answer. I watched her with apprehension as she stretched her fingers into the bucket. For a while, her fingers fished about in the Boiling Ocean for the Cloth of Terror, and she was finally able to wring it. And she was saying, “Antony, you know, I know you better than you think. You can't cheat me. Were you fighting?”
There was only enough time to swallow a rising bubble of horror in my throat before I was kicking and cursing as she imposed hot chemical pain on a wound in my elbow I hadn't realized was within her reach. It was hell. I managed to croak, “I feel like dying!" just before the heavens shone forth the type of cosmic light which illuminates the elevator by which the soul leaves the body. But my inquisitor knew her trade; she released me before I kicked the bucket (but after I had already kicked the air, the wall, the mattress, headbutted the headboard) while struggling to end the painful, um, pain.
I spontaneously confessed in the succeeding tranquil that, indeed, I was running at night. I also freely volunteered that I had been chasing Lucas in order to catch him and intimidate him a little, but alas! Before I could grab him I tripped, fell, got hurt and changed my mind. Lastly I recounted how, as I came home, I was expecting to enjoy rest and recovery in peace and quiet "...but I guess today just isn't my day.”
Ailis smiled. It didn't convince me at all. “Too bad," she opined in a neutral tone from her perch on the stool, as she submerged the Wool of Woe in the Bucket of Bitterness - and fetched it back immediately. “Were you drinking?”
It sounded like any other question, but by now I knew better. Thus, I said fearlessly that there was no law against drinking, and I wasn't drunk, was I? But her piercing eyes practically darkened and yellowed as I spoke, so that I was going to shut up shortly if she hadn't interrupted my concluding remarks.
“I suggest you answer the question!”
But she gave no time! She attacked my shoulder with that soaked steaming stinging fabric!
I saw, with painful clarity, a divine revelation: violence begets violence; I shouldn't have tried to chase Lucas, and I wouldn't be there, suffering, hence the world is a cycle. That instant, I foreswore violence but first I had to push Ailis away from me. It was futile. She was poised like a hunting lioness and at any rate my pushing limbs were all injured at the joints. When this final attempt at violence failed, I turned to a delirious diplomacy, relying heavily on tactics of appeasement: I declared that I had only taken one drink I swear! and I would never drink again or try to fight - ever. The pained rant ended when I baptized myself “...Pacifist Teetotaler.”
Ailis collapsed upon me with laughter. I didn't laugh along. I was too engrossed with heaving a sigh of relief and reaching sneakily for that dastardly rag in her hand. I wanted to grab it suddenly while laughter distracted her.
But she turned her laughing eyes on me in a way that made us both suddenly aware of the following:
1. no longer was she perched on the stool, 2. we were in each others' arm on the bed (the 'other arms' were jerking about in a tug-of-war for the cloth), 3. I was shirtless, 4.) our foreheads were touching and 5.) we were both staring dead straight ahead.
*Awkward silence here*
“Goodnight!" exclaimed Ailis, suddenly moving away.
She fled the scene with an awkward wave.