Sarah looked at herself in the mirror. The brown dress she wore fitted beautifully, slightly flaring round the waist and then folding into pleats that fell to the ground. She thanked Miss Joline and went out with Jenna, and learned a lot about Arendil, including the Seyara, the inhabitants and the general topography of the region. Soon they reached the house where she saw Chris sitting on the stairs and looking in her direction.
“Hey Chris! Is this your house? Looks nice, by the way.”
“It’s our house, Sarah.” He looked at her coolly and dropped his gaze.
WHAT? She didn’t say it aloud because her mouth opened and closed without uttering a word, but the thought rammed into his consciousness so hard that Chris winced before turning to John.
“I told you, she wouldn’t agree.”
“We’ll see. Miss Earthborn, would you-um-like to share accommodations with Elanya Nephtherborn? She offered.”
“An alien? NO! Are you both crazy? I’ll live in the inn if I have to work as a maid all my life! But I am NOT living with an alien.” She shouted on top of her voice. Even Jenna was staring at John in astonishment, unable to believe what her twin was saying. “John, you do be mad today.”
“She’s not that bad, Sarah. Anyways, she invited us for tea. Since you’re here, we’d better go.”
“She invited you for tea?” Ridicule flowed into him from her.
“Yes, let’s go. You’ll like her. See that house over there?” He said, pointing to Elanya’s house about fifty feet away. “That’s where she lives.”
“So you’ve met your neighbours?”
“No, she came over to introduce herself, Miss Earthborn.” John spoke before Chris spoke anything, sensing the vibes and realising that the conversation was headed for a useless argument.
How does she... look? Sarah thought.
Just like we do. Or you do, to be more specific like John. Chris thought back with a smile on his face.
If it’s a joke Chris, IF it’s a joke... You won’t know what hit you before this day’s over.
Atleast I’ll know who hit me. Come on now, she looks just like us.
Sarah saw Jenna and John walking away.
You could stay here if you are uncomfortable anyway, Sarah.
“Why you-!” Sarah moved towards him violently and he stepped back.
“I’m just saying that because the inn is not a good idea. Everybody in this village goes there. All your three-eyed pumpkin-shaped aliens.”
The point settled, and Sarah began thinking if it really was worth giving a try.
“But I’m not staying with you! I’ll ask Jenna to get me a new house.”
“It’s not allowed.”
“Do I look like I care? A girl can’t get a house of her own here! Elanya has a house of her own. Why can’t I? I am so NOT living with you.”
“You can sleep in the bedroom upstairs. I’ll sleep on the low bed under the window.”
“Enn. Oh. NO! God, if only I could go back home from this crazy place. Punishing people for disturbing time, for God’s sake! How did I do anything like that? And asking me to stay with an unknown guy! I don’t believe it.”
A small fragment of shock entered her mind, and she looked at Chris. Suddenly her last words came rushing back to her when she saw the hurt expression on his face.
She can’t trust me for once. Startled, Chris realised he had allowed his thoughts to escape for a while and closed the dam instantly, and looked up to see whether Sarah had heard him or not.
“Look Chris, I didn’t mean it that way...” Sarah’s voice trailed off, and he realised she had heard everything.
“I’ll sleep outside if it makes you comfortable Sarah. We’re here amidst people from different universes, whom can you trust? May be Jenna or John-” Chris stopped abruptly when a thread of hurt entered his conscience from her when he mentioned those names. “What is it Sarah?”
“What makes you think I trust them more than I trust you?”
“You prefer to ask Jenna.”
“I’ll sleep here, don’t worry. AND we’ll go to Elanya’s place if I can win back your trust.” She pressed her lips and looked away.
Chris looked at her. “I can’t trust anybody except you Sarah.”
“Mm hmm. Let me take a look inside. I wanna see where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.” She went inside, and Chris felt her overflowing homesickness. He stepped behind her.
“I swear to you Sarah, if there’s one thing I ever do here, then it would be getting you safe back to home. I swear.” Chris let his thoughts flow freely, he didn’t need to hide his genuine emotions to make her believe him, and felt happiness and warmth flow back from the girl standing three feet away. Sarah turned around and looked straight into his eyes. Her gaze wasn’t questioning. She had already assessed all there was in the great flow of his thoughts that had come to her completely only now since he had stopped blocking them from her.
Chris felt uncomfortable as she continued to stare at him in that unfamiliar way. In a single step she was standing close to him, and her lips brushed his cheek exactly where she had kissed him in the morning. “I believe you.” Then she hastily stepped back and ran up the staircase.
Chris stood transfixed. This time no thoughts had disturbed the moment, and he had felt a storm brewing inside him. It had been so alien in nature that he hardly understood it, so he figured out that it had been Sarah’s storm he had been experiencing. He slowly calmed it and untangled the gusts of emotions, finding that betrayal and shame tinged a river of acceptance and heartfelt gratitude towards him. The answer was surprisingly quick to appear. Kissing a guy twice in a day would not be appropriate in Jordan’s eyes. Jordan was Sarah’s boyfriend at college. His face was beautiful, if the term could be used for a boy. Muscular and tall, he looked every inch a hunk and was the captain of the basketball team that had won three consecutive state championships under him. Sarah had thought about him when she had kissed him.
Sarah came down the staircase minutes later. “Let’s go meet this Elanya.”
“Mm hmm.” Sarah looked at him. Till now he had been able to keep his thoughts in check, but at least his voice carried a little bit of what he felt. When he spoke this time, the voice might as well have come from stone.