Sarah's Phoenix: Scouting (part 2)

Sarah had calmed down from her initial annoyance with Mathew when he returned. He was carrying two rabbits by their ears and threw one at Sarah. She caught it and looked at him.

‘Skin it,’ he said.

‘I don’t know how,’ Sarah replied.

Mathew looked at her startled. ‘You can pin a grown man to the ground, but you can’t skin a rabbit?’ Sarah nodded. He looked at her puzzled, ‘Are you here solely for Jason?’

Sarah looked at Mathew for a moment. She knew Jason had warned her not to say much. Then again she hadn’t said much even to Jason. Sarah was tempted to tell him yes, until it dawned on her what he meant. ‘No,’ she said finally, ‘I’m here because I have nowhere else to go and Jason has kindly taken me in.’

Mathew snorted, ‘As a lover I bet,’ he said under his breath, but Sarah heard him.

‘No, not as a lover.’ Sarah held the rabbit uncertainly. ‘As friends, and if it bothers you that much, try to think of me as one of the boys.’ He snorted again and started to skin his rabbit. Sarah smiled. ‘You want to show me how to do that, or you want to skin this one too?’

Skinning a rabbit, she found, wasn’t much different from dissecting one. Sarah still grimaced slightly as she prepared the rabbit. Animal surgery hadn’t been her strong point in Vet school. Her grimacing made Mathew smile as he showed her how to gut it and put it on the spit for roasting.

He laughed, ‘One would think you’ve never handled a dead animal before.’

‘Not to prepare as food,’ she stated causing him to do a double take of her.

‘Why else would you handle a dead animal?’ he asked and Sarah could see he was honestly confused. Suddenly Sarah felt overwhelmed and out of place. She should have told Jason this wouldn’t work. She didn’t know if she could take the culture shock. When Jason got back she’d ask him to take her home.

The next few days passed slowly. Mathew brought back fresh game everyday which they skinned and cooked to replenish supplies. Sarah would often go into the woods when he did, searching for herbs. Sometimes she dried them, other times she’d use them for cooking.

Five days after the pairs had left, they began coming back in. Sarah was out gathering, when Jason found her. ‘You're back.’ She was surprised and relieved; releived that she would no longer be alone with Mathew.

He nodded. ‘You did not have any problems with Mathew did you?’

‘Problems?’ she said, ‘No. But,’ Sarah straightened up, ‘I don’t belong here Jay.’

‘Nonsense, it has only been a few days.’

‘Only a few days?” Sarah felt hysterics welling up and she took a deep breath. “Mathew keeps looking at me as if I’m not from this world.’ She looked away and then back at Jason. ‘And I’m not. I,” she swallowed a lump, “I think I should try to go home.’

‘No!’ Jason said emphatically, causing Sarah to start. ‘Look,’ he said more gently, placing a hand on her shoulder. ‘When I brought you here, you were sick. I had no idea how to heal you and would have returned you to your world. But I when I brought you from it, it was nothing like your descriptions. There was nothing but a wasteland. Whatever happened killed everything, the world felt dead.’ Sarah blinked back tears, somehow she'd known that. Known she couldn’t go back. Sarah turned from Jason. ‘I’m sorry,” he said, “I should have taken the camp watch.”

‘Could you have?’ she looked back at him before bending down to pick more mint.

She felt Jason gaze at her. He sighed. ‘No, I suppose not.’ Sarah stood, uncertain of her feelings and continued her gathering. Jason followed her. As she bent down to examine a plant, he spoke again. “I’m sorry this hasn’t turned out the way I’d hoped.’

Sarah looked up at him, half smiling. ‘How had you hoped it would go?’ she asked, wondering what was going on in his mind.

Jason gave her a rueful smile. ‘Well,’ he looked away into the woods, ‘I’d always thought I’d rescue you from your world and bring you home in triumph.’ He looked back at Sarah, ‘I guess every boy wants to be a Knight in shining armor.’

Sarah laughed. Her eyes scanned the forest floor. “And every girl wants to be rescued, but life is hardly like that.” She looked at him with another half smile before moving on. ‘You know,’ she continued after a sideways glance told her Jason was still there, ‘Matt thought we were lovers.’

‘He would,’ Jason sighed, ‘he didn’t try anything did he?’

‘No.’ Sarah saw Jason frown and she smiled. ‘Nothing I couldn’t handle Jay.’ Sarah turned back toward camp.

The End

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