In a swift motion Chris rose from the bed into a sitting position as the door opened.
“What are you doing here?” He saw Elanya come inside.
“When I came to Arisia, I wasn’t as brave as you. I stayed inside the Lake’s illusion long enough for John to stop waiting and come for me. He stood in front of me and looked at me up and down, as if looking at a tree. I wished I could know what possibly could a strange guy like him be thinking while looking at me, and since then I am hearing thoughts.” Elanya stopped and took a breath.
Chris stared at her in amazement. “You mean, you-” can hear thoughts? He half spoke and half thought, in order to test her.
“Yes. But I can’t talk like that, meaning that I can’t reply by thinking. That’s why I was surprised when you spoke to Sarah all of a sudden. I realised you two could actually talk via thoughts- like telepathy.”
“How much have you heard?” Chris was on guard now, and was keeping his dam tightly shut.
Elanya looked at him in a puzzled way. “Are you trying to do something with your thoughts? It feels like a tickle inside my head- it’s... it’s strange. Why are you thinking of a reservoir?”
What’s a reservoir?
“It’s like a huge wall holding a river, which releases it slowly to generate electricity using a turbine. You were thinking of it.”
Chris looked at her in surprise. His trick was not working on her like it had worked with Sarah. He couldn’t hide his thoughts from her. He realised he was a little afraid of the alien in front of him.
“Why are you here?”
“To tell you that it’s not wrong, and that you shouldn’t be angry.”
“What do you mean?” He narrowed his eyes.
“You know very well what I mean. You’ve been thinking of it ever since you stepped inside my house.”
“And what have I been thinking of exactly?”
Elanya suppressed a smile. From a whole new universe, and yet a guy was no different. What’s with their ego that they can’t accept a girl knows something?
“Let’s walk Chris.”
“Where?” Chris realised he was acting too insecure, as if he was afraid of Elanya. But after what she had revealed to him, maybe he was.
“First, we’ll go to my place and you’ll tell Sarah that you’ve had dinner, because she isn’t eating.”
“So? She must be on a diet or something. Could you please go so that I can sleep?”
“She won’t eat unless she knows you’ve eaten.”
“Of course she will. She’s gonna get stomach cramps otherwise. It’s her life anyway.”
“You aren’t coming then?”
“All right. If you mean to keep her hungry all night...” She let the statement hang and moved out, waiting for the desired response. It came a moment late.
“What?” She raised her eyebrows.
Chris sighed and rose up from his bed, and emerged from the door to get bathed in silvery moonlight. Not speaking a word, he stepped forward and Elanya followed.
He pushed the door open and peeked inside.
She whipped her head around to look at him.
Have you eaten?
I... I was about to. You wanna have some?
No. I ate at - he glanced at Elanya and got an understanding nod in response- the inn.
Are we cool now?
When the conversation was over without having said a single word, Sarah turned her attention to the rice bowl and began eating. She heard Chris’ footsteps on the stairs as he went back to the house.
Elanya came inside and glided to the vacant chair beside her and sat without a sound.
“What? Why?” Sarah remained expressionless- or tried to, as she hungrily stuffed cold rice and curry in her mouth.
“He has eaten. So you should eat as well. He said you could get stomach cramps if you didn’t.”
Sarah jerked her head sideways, as if acknowledging and taunting the comment at the same time.
She finished her dinner pretty fast, and then went to sleep upstairs when Elanya insisted that the bed was big enough for both of them, and she would join her shortly so she should not wait for her.
Sarah opened the door to enter a room with a king size bed in the centre. She had been tired and hungry, and recently her hunger had been satiated. The tiredness made her drag her feet up to the bed. When she slipped off her shoes and the brown gown and fell on the bed, she was asleep before her head hit the pillow.
Elanya quickly boiled milk and poured it in a glass, covering it with a cloth. She crept outside her door and walked towards Chris’ house swiftly. He might have made Sarah eat, but he wouldn’t have eaten anything himself. When she pushed the gate open for the second time, Chris was not lying on the bed. She checked upstairs, but he was not in the bedroom either. She picked up the glass from the dining table where she had placed it and opened her mind to his thoughts. Moments passed, but she didn’t perceive anything. She tried harder, broadening the boundaries of her mind. A faint trickle of thoughts entered her consciousness from the northern direction. She held the glass with the cloth to insulate against the hot metal, and let herself be led by the thoughts which became stronger and stronger with every step she took in the correct direction.
Chris added another flying bird to the scenery he had been sketching in the mud on the ground. In the scenery, the sun was about to set and it was casting long shadows of the swings that were visible in the front. He had drawn an image of the place he remembered the best- a playground where he had played while growing up. A scraping sound made him look up to see Elanya entering the Seyara with a glass held in her hand. The flowers inside the Seyara were pulsating with a dull glow of the colour matching the different flowers. The glow cast an eerie luminescence on everything inside a clearing that he had discovered, while trying to see flowers that grew deeper in the grove. A roof made by the branches of a banyan tree prevented him from seeing the starry sky, and the flowering shrubs all around him made him feel like he was sitting in a room with walls made of plants. As Elanya entered the clearing, her face was lost in the shadow for a while before it emerged in the glow. The nose appeared first, quickly followed by her lips, eyes, forehead and neck, and finally her whole self.
“How did you find me?” Chris looked at her with a guarded look in his eyes. He was already feeling that she might learn a lot about him by simply listening to his thoughts. He concentrated on a spoon.
“Don’t worry, I’m not reading your thoughts. I came here to give you this.” The musical voice quieted and her hand offered the glass to him.
“What is it?”
“Milk, so that you don’t get cramps.”
“I won’t. Thanks anyways.”
Elanya looked at him for some time, solemnly gazing into his eyes as she stood in front of him with the glass in her hand.
“How can you expect a girl to forget someone she has loved as soon as she changes companions? It would be called infidel behaviour, Chris. What Sarah thought was natural. Or should I expect you to forget about Sarah whenever we talk in her absence?” Colour bloomed in her cheeks as she spoke the last words, but Elanya knew he couldn’t see her face in Seyara's feeble glow. She felt the storm of thoughts churning inside him.
Did she send you here? To tell me all this?
“No, Master Earthborn. I am here because I think it’s wrong on your part to treat her the way you have been treating her, since afternoon.”
“And it’s not wrong on her part? Hitting on me?” Chris humphed and looked away.
“Hitting? I take it as a synonym for flirting on your planet.” Elanya seemed more comfortable with the concept of people belonging to different planets than he was, Chris realised. “If a girl demonstrates her true feelings like she did, it shows strength of character. It was your fault that you thought she was interested in you in any way. It showed her trust in you, Chris, not if she is in love with you.”
Oh really, I guess people on Nephther spend their whole lives gauging each others’ emotions, huh? Chris sneered.
The grief that contorted her face was beyond estimation. “Chris Earthborn, if people on Nephther had been doing that, I wouldn’t be here- away from family and friends.” A single tear drop rolled down her cheek from her left eye. “I forgive you this once because you are ignorant. My planet is at war... People kill people for water that their parents didn’t bother to save when there had been enough. Just hope you never get unlucky enough to see the atrocities of war, Chris. Pray to your Lord Almighty that you never see-” she swallowed-“Sarah being killed for a pathetic canister of water.”
Rubbing her wet cheeks, she bent down to keep the glass on the ground beside him. When she began to rise, his fingers wound themselves around her hand and held her immobile in an awkward leaning position.
“Who... was it?” Elanya saw, for the first time, the strength within him. He had the courage to ask her instead of being a wimp and saying sorry or making excuses. And he looked straight into her eyes.
“My friend- his name was Kevin.”
“And it is not wrong to think of someone when you express truthfully how you feel to somebody else?”
Elanya nodded. She couldn’t hear his thoughts, or maybe she wasn’t trying. Who knows what might one find?
“I apologize.” He said.
Elanya was still in the same position as before. Her back was bent; knees were thrust forward and the hand that had moved to place the glass beside Chris was now in his grasp.
“It’s okay, Chris. I know you said that because of ignorance. You would never say such a thing if you knew.”
It is said that a woman’s tears are beautiful, and should be cherished instead of being wiped away. The owner of the precious drops likes you if you are close enough both physically and emotionally to wipe them with your hands... but if you don’t want to ruin God’s beauty in drops of saline water, you’d better hold your hand and see them shimmering like pearls as they cling to the eyelashes before falling down. Chris looked at those wet eyes in awe. They were red on the edges now, and pools of uncontrolled tears brought up because of a memory were threatening to break free from the dam of her eyes.
A flower prettier than the beauty of a thousand roses, a mystic blend of pink and yellow bloomed overhead.