A Short Explanation

 “So,” Reed leaned back, his plate clear. “Where do you hail from?”

Sarah laughed. “No place you’ve heard of I guarantee.” Damn, she thought, suddenly realizing she needed some sort of believable story.

Stick to the facts but forget the culture. Jason replied. Sarah felt a rush of gratitude that he’d stayed close enough to help her.

Marcus eyed Sarah from the other end of the table. “I’ve travelled all of the Vervell and places beyond,” he boasted

Sarah met his gaze evenly. “Ever been to the United States of America?” Marcus’s expression remained blank. “I didn’t think so,” Sarah smiled and took a sip of her drink.

“So if it is so far away that I have never heard of it, how did you get here?” he asked haughtily.

“That,” Sarah said, “is a very good question.” She took a large bite of food from her plate and chewed slowly. These weren’t Jason’s men, and she wasn’t really sure what to say. Help Jay she thought pleadingly at him. She felt him chuckle.

Tell them how your country was at war, he told her. Mention that you ended up injured and under a willow tree, then you appeared here. My troop found you and since you were useful you stayed with us until our patrol was over.

Is that really believable? Sarah knew she believed it, but then again she was the one who’d lived it.

As long as you mention the Willow, he stated.

Why? Curiosity got the best of her.

It is the Gods’ tree, Jason stated.

Sarah swallowed her bite, wishing she hadn’t asked that last question as her head began to throb. The whole table was looking at her expectantly, including some of the boys nearby. Figures she’d have been placed at the middle table.

“Well, truth be known, I’m not quite certain how I got here.” She shrugged and cocked her head and thought about what to say next. “What I remember,” Sarah nodded and straightened up, “my country was at war and I was traveling home when we were attacked by the enemy. I was knocked out within moments and when I finally woke up I was here and being tended to by Scout Sergeant Phoenix,” she stabbed her food, "under a Willow."

“And he did not leave you at the next town?” Marcus sneered interrupting what Aaron was going to ask.

Sarah looked at Marcus and finished her bite. She took a swig of water. He was obviously not going to be helpful. She sighed. “Look, I had nowhere to go. I had nothing but the clothing on my back. I proved useful to the troop. Phoenix let me stay until he could work out other arrangements.”

Marcus snorted his indifference to her, making a wave of homesickness hit Sarah. I want to go home, she thought.

This is your home now, Jay’s voice was soft in her head.

I know, Sarah thought back struggling to control her emotions as she chewed the last bit of her food. And even if I could go home, the enemy is probably occupying my country, if the place is even livable. Best case I’d die of radiation before they found me. Worse case I’d be tortured for information I have no way of knowing.

Marcus began to say some other snide remark, when the metal was hit three times. His words cut off, he stood with the others and pushed his way to the front where the dishes were being piled. Jackhat, Sarah thought as she watched Michael and Bennett following him. At least Kirk and London took one serving dish each with them. Still she, Reed, and Aaron were left with the brunt of table clearing.

The End

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