It was one of those moments where someone seemed to have turned off the sound from everything on the planet. There were no chirps, no wind, no bugs, nothing.
Neither of us moved for a very long moment, and I had begun to worry that I had missed the mark. Then Pailadyn finally nodded.
Oh dear… this was… bad. I couldn’t get attached to anyone here. Especially if I planned to leave. And… this was rather sudden… I had been here for just over a month. That wasn’t a lot of time.
“But how can you know that? I haven’t been here that long.”
“Are you saying that you don’t believe me?”
Well… yeah sort of, said my brain.
“Well not quite…” said my mouth. “I’m just not sure you really feel what you think you’re feeling.”
Her hopeful smile flipped into a frown. “What do you mean?”
I scratched at the back of head and began to pace again. “I don’t know Pailadyn… it’s just, on Earth, usually you take a while to get to know the other person first. Stranger things have definitely happened, but I just don’t want you to make a decision that you may not actually be feeling.”
“You don’t like me do you.”
“You listened to what I said earlier Pailadyn, listen to what I’m saying now. You may be influenced by outside factors.”
“Well for starters, I’m an object of curiosity. I don’t mean to brag, but I’m different. Number two, I told you about something you had never heard of. Something you were curious about and wanted to try. That makes you start to imagine things. I guess what I’m trying to say is, you’re dealing with something you don’t know about and that’s bad.”
“You’re saying that what I’m feeling is simply my imagination.”
“It could very well be. I don’t know.”
“I think you just don’t like me.”
“No! It’s not tha-“
“Then what is it really? Do you love someone on Earth?”
“No, not like that.”
“Does anyone love you back on Earth?”
“It doesn’t surprise me!” she shouted and walked to the edge of the cliff.
“You don’t deserve to ask me to do anything! I’ve saved your life twice, and helped you when I could have ignored you. Or is that my imagination too?”
“You didn’t save my life twi-“
“You barely tied Pownde today. And that’s weeks after you started your training. Did you honestly think that you had won we you fought me? Do you know how many chances I had to kill or wound you?”
“No. You don’t. You have no idea. You are different, but in a way that you don’t see. That was why I was…. attracted… to you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I don’t know Juewuhl… maybe I’m just imagining it!” and with that she began to climb down.
“Pailadyn…w-wait… I… this doesn’t… come back, we need to talk!”
She didn’t answer.
I sat back down on one of the rocks and asked myself what the heck it was that I had just done.
Oh nothing much, just ruined the closest thing to a relationship with a girl that I’d ever had.
No biggie right?
After twenty or so minutes, I made my way down the cliff face and headed back to the barracks. I was back to where I had been last night, trying to put Pailadyn out of my head. There were more important things to be thinking about.
Like the tournament coming up in a week, that provided my only ticket home.