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from Aradia's Diaspora by Susan Woerner

Copyright © 2018–2019 Susan Woerner

Scene 56

On the fifth morning as we prepared for another day’s walk, I made my way down to the edge of the sea to marvel at the pinks and purples the reflection of the sunrise made on the clouds. Aurie came up behind me, wrapping her arms around me, kissing my neck.

“Good morning, beautiful Betty,” she whispered.

I stood still, contemplating just how she’d slipped herself into my life without my notice. I hadn’t had sex with her in the short time we’d been on the road, so officially, I wasn’t sure we were really back together. Which was fine with me, since she still hadn’t actually said she was giving up the Order.

“Good morning, Brother Aurie,” I said, immediately regretting such a petty statement.

She kept her arms around me but swiveled her head to look me in the eye. Her look was really? You’re really going to play that game?

“Come on, Betty, can’t we just do the anger thing later?” she asked, “just enjoy each other right now, right here, in this moment?” She dropped her arms and walked back toward the fire and the others, mumbling something.

I inhaled deeply. What was I doing? I wasn’t a player, I didn’t do this sort of thing. Then again, I had lovers who convinced me to give up myself for them, not the other way around. Is this what the other side was like? I turned to take in the entire horizon, from where we’d come to where we were going. Today, we would begin to trek inward, into the woods again, heading for the Inquisito. As I looked along the edge of the sea where we had walked yesterday, I saw a black speck in the far distance.

Wha the? That wasn’t there yesterday….

“Auri, Toci, Bears - er - Ursel and Artio, come here!” I shouted, pinning my eyes on the black dot at the edge of the sea.

They ran to me, stopping short to look in the same direction I was looking. No one said anything for a minute. We watched the dot grow a little larger. I squinted my eyes, hoping it would help me tell what was coming closer.

“Is that…?” Aurie asked, breaking the silence, “is that something coming toward us?”

Ursel, Artio and Toci shaded their eyes, squinting now too, trying to fix whatever it was.

Now there were t...

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