“Aylah-Jaye. You can not just run off like that! That is extremely irresponsible. Well no matter now. No one is allowed into Shawling’s now.” Camille towered over Aylah-Jaye, sitting on a stool.
“What?! Why? Mom you cant-”
“Aylah we will discuss this no more. Where is Zariah? It’s late. She needs bathing.” Camille trotted off upstairs of their hollow, instantly forgetting about their fight. Aylah sat there fuming. Zariah, Aylahs younger sister – five years old – popped out from behind the wooden bench,
“Ay’ I don’ wan’ a wash,” Zariah said with her bottom lip stuck out.
“Well I want you to, you stink! What have you been up to today?” Aylah looked at Zariahs dirty face and clothes,
“Nowhere” She pushed her dark caramel ringlets out of her big green eyes with her whole hand and looked at her feet. Aylah-Jaye pulled Zariah close to her, playing with her shoulder length ringlets.
“Za-za, what aren’t you telling me, you can trust me,”
“I was playin’ in the woods…I followed you,”
“With who? Heather and Corben?” Aylah asked softly,
“By myself,” Zariah looked at the floor again, picking at her nails.
“Oh Zariah,” Aylah sighed softly, “you shouldn’t be in there alone,”
“But you go,”
“I know, but I’m older, its different,” Aylah-Jaye knew she could’nt go into the forest again if her little sister was going to follow her, by herself, “but I’m not going in there alone again, because its forbidden now, do you understand? No one is allowed in there alone. Did anything happen to you?” Aylah was curious to know if she saw anyone chase her,
Zariah merely nodded her head, “I-I saw Zachery, he was spyin’ on you, so I hid, then I heard you find ‘im, then I heard you scream an then you ran, I didn’ know what to do, and I saw somethin’… chase you. I-I ran and slipped in a puddle, t-then the thing chasin’ you stopped, and he came to where I slipped, looking f-for me, but I was hidin’ under a bush. When it went away I s-snuck back out of the forest,” Zariah was crying now, and Aylah held her, shushing her. Her olive skin was rough in the places where the mud had dried.
“Come on, how about I give you a wash, hey?”
Zariah just nodded her head, enjoying the attention, but still upset. As Aylah turned around, Zariah holding her hand, she stopped, shocked.
Camille was standing in the door way, Aylah wondered how much of their conversation she'd just heard. “After you’ve bathed her and tucked her in, come and see me,” Camille gave her one of those ‘don’t-argue-with-me’ looks. “We need to talk.”