~The Promise~ pg 2

The sun had passed the tops of the trees a full tick ago. It was going to be dark soon and his burden had not been lifted. She never made a sound but the girl was ever behind him, often with tears streaked down her face when he would sneak a glance. He hated the guilt that twisted his gut whenever he saw her sorrow. He had not asked her to come… told her not to, even. So why did he feel responsible for her pain?

He had left the comfort of the road behind in favor of traveling as straight as he could without a set of birds’ wings. He had hoped that it would cause her to lag behind but she was never more than three paces away. It impressed him that she could keep up – the girl looked too delicate to be used to this kind of travel, and yet, even with the pack on her back, she did not huff and puff with exertion like he did now. It vexed him to think that she might have the better stamina.

He almost tripped when she finally did speak, her voice harsh from dryness. “May we stop here for the night?” He turned to take in her weary eyes, red and puffy with the day of mourning the loss of whatever it was she expected of him. Now that he saw her face he thought he had judged wrong. The child looked ready to collapse. Though it meant his pride recovered, a new stab of guilt filled him for pushing her so hard. 

He shoved the feeling aside and grunted in disapproval at her while scanning the area. The woods around them had opened up into a small clearing where the ground was relatively flat and he could hear the babbling of the brook he had been keeping to his right. It was not a terrible place to make camp. He just wished it had been closer to his destination. With only a nod, he set down his pack. A modicum of relief flickered in her features as she did the same. 

The End

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