Chapter 4Mature

       I lay on a soft mattress, head already pressed into a cool pillow. My hammock swayed from side to side in a soothing rhythm, but my heart was beating twice as fast. My fingers clung onto the edges of my swing, leaving lasting dents in the bendable material. Once my fingers couldn't bend a certain spot any more, I moved further up. I continued this sequence until my hands, bent behind my head, had nowhere else to dig into.

       I played with the rope of my hammock until my hands got sweaty and started fumbling with the string. I bolted up, unable to stand it anymore. I tried to calm myself; I took deep breaths, inhaling through my nose, exhaling through my mouth; I stretched. My arched as my hands reached over my toes and onto the rope at the other eend of my bed. I slowly sat up, sliding my hands along the bumps my fingers had made in the sides of my hammock. But this motion just reminded me of how restless I really was.

       I sighed harshly. The little noise filled every corner of the room. THen another, longer sigh sounded from somewhere near my feet. Nadia couldn't sleep either. But how could I expect her to?

       I tapped her foot once. She tapped mine twice. I slid my pillow from under my head and repositioned it at the other end of my hammock. Although I couldn't quite see her through the darkness, I turned to face her general direction. I found her eyes fixed on me. The sliver of light from the small portion of the door that was open reflected in her green eyes.

       "Looking at the night sky is so soothing," she said, not even bothering to whisper. Gage hadn't gone to bed, yet anyway.

       "It's dark red," she continued. "It's a strawberry. And the stars are little seeds on its skin."

       "But the sky isn't dark red. It's dark green. It's seaweed. And the stars are salt that it catches from the ocean," I murmured lazily, knowing what always follows this comment.

       "The sky is red," Nadia argued.

       "The sky is green."

       "The sky is red," she repeated, starting to raise her voice.

       "Augh! We've been over this so many times," I groaned. "In your eyes, the sky is red. In my eyes, the sky is green. Do you want another example? You think that meti that followed you is cute. I think that it is ugly and..."

       "Please don't bring up the meti," she interrupted. "I've heard enough about metis for one day."

       "The point is, we all see things differently," I explained.

       We fell silent.

       I might have started to doze off, drowsiness placed upon me by too much deep thinging, but my attempt was proved to be impossible when a knock on the front door roused me from my half-sleeping state. Gage opened the door too quickly; as if he had been rehearsing for this moment. There was an exchange of conversation, but it was too soft and far away for me to hear. And then the footsteps were walking in our direction. My heart thumped against my chest even faster than before. They were as good as in our room.

       The next thing I knew, Gage was peeking into the room. His eyes were locked on me. From the near simultaneous footsteps, I knew that the other person, or rather "other thing", was close behind him, but he closed the door before I could even catch a glimpse of the unexpected visitor.

       When my eyes had adjusted to the severe darkness occurring after the door had closed, I looked at Nadia and she nodded. She moved over until she was lying at the edge of her bed. Carefully, almost soundlessly, I rolled onto her hammock. Together, we rocked her cot until we touched the wall. We tied two strings from the sides of her bed around two rings that were nailed to into the wall.

       Nadia and I struggled to quickly find comfortable positions on the hammock. Our feet nevertheless, ended up hanging off the edge. But it would have to do for now. We pressed our ears against the wall.

       My breathing became sharp and fast. Only a wall separated me and the kitchen; me and the visitor. I waited for conversation to start, but all I could hear was the coffee maker, making awkward noises. Finally, someone spoke... and then someone else. But their voices were muffled and I couldn't make out the words. They were on the other side of the room, probably intentionally. And the coffee maker wasn't helping much either. Their words were impossibly tangled if not lost completely. However, Nadia and I listened anyway, waiting for something we could make out, anything.

       After half an hour, we hadn't learned anything from their voices except that the visitor was a humans. We couldn't make out if the person was a boy or a girl, young or old.

       And then came the scrape of chairs being pushed back. I held my breath as we hurried to untie the hammock with sweaty hands. I leaped onto my hammock and covered myself in my blanket just seconds before the footsteps reached our door. Gage looked in: our hammocks were still swinging. He closed the door. Only then did I notice there was only one pair of footsteps walking from our door.

The End

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