A memories of Myst and Uru Blog

Some of my memories of the games, and the events. Disclaimer: All of these posts are simply my recollections, and my imagination. Nothing here should be construed as fact. All copyrights of Myst, Uru, and any other intellectual properties pertaining to Cyan Worlds Inc. should be respected.

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Location: Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

I'm me. Unique and crazy.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Continued from Chapter 3

It's later in the afternoon now. You are both in your truck, driving along a dusty road. The two of you studied a map before leaving the Cleft. The plan is to retrieve Lesley's car from where she left it. It's confusing to her in this desert landscape. You know it quite well, but, still to find out where on the road her car is, is confusing. Luckily, she recalls the number of the highway that she was on, when her car broke down. You find her car, none the worse for wear, after a few fruitless turns. It is pulled off on the side of the road, sitting there, abandoned. You check the engine, after popping open the hood, but it won't start when she tries it. The engine doesn't even turn over. It's not out of gas either, after you ask her to check that. She says that it just sputtered to a stop, and then the engine died. "Okay, that's that then. I don't know what's wrong with it. Let's tow it to the town garage and get Randy, the mechanic, to look at it," you suggest. She agrees with you. She slams the hood down. You get some chains out of the cab of the truck, from behind the seat. You kneel down on the ground, by the bumper, and find the steel hooks underneath the car. You attach the chains to the car. Then link them onto the pickup. Lesley sets the transmission of the car to neutral. Both of you climb into the truck, and you start it up. As you start driving, the car creaks and groans, then rolls along nicely. It's hot and dusty sitting in the cab of the truck, as you drive along. But it's not lonely with Lesley there. "Can I ask you what brought you out this way?" you say, as you glance over to her. Again, the questions are lining up in there, inside your head, wanting to know more about her.

"Sure, you can. I know I've not said much about my past. Thanks for not pushing me," Lesley replies, her hair flying around in the dusty wind coming in the window, as you drive along. "I found myself in a bad position back East," she continues. "You have no idea how office politics can play out. Things just didn't work out for me and I left my position as a geologist with an oil company. I'm taking some time to travel, and find out the next place I want to settle down. I felt an urge to come to the southwest area, for a change of scenery." After she stops talking, she glances down.

"That's fair enough," you reply, glancing over at her. She's staring out the window. Her hand is absently playing in the tangle of her reddish blonde hair that the wind has whipped up. She's quite beautiful, in an understated way, with her natural curves, and full, deep pink lips. It's not hard on your eyes to see her. You realize she's not going to talk any more about the subject and let it drop.

You reach the town and find the garage. You ask Randy, on her behalf, to have a look at the car. After a brief up and down glance of Lesley, Randy pays attention to you. "Sure, I can look at it. But it'll take me a couple of days, at least. Can you leave it here?"

"Sure I can. That's not a problem," Lesley replies. Randy draws up a work order and asks Lesley to sign it. As she's busy signing it, a silent message passes between you and Randy, with both set of eyes looking at Lesley, and then each other. You can tell, he's got questions unasked, about her, in his head, as to why she's with you. There's a sense of envy that you get from him. A question within him as to, why you get this gorgeous female, and not him. You smile at him, as though to say, "tough luck Randy." She finishes and the silent communication between you and Randy ends. You head out and unhook the car from your truck. Then you and Randy push it to where he wants it. Lesley sets the transmission to park, and then sets the brake. She says, "I need to get my suitcase from the car." Retrieving it from the trunk, she then carries it and puts it in the bed of your truck. You shake hands with Randy, as does Lesley, then say goodbye.

"While we're in town, I'll pick up some food at the store, okay?" you ask Lesley.

"Sure, that's a great idea. I'd love to help pay you for food," she offers. You decline, but she presses the money from her wallet onto your leg, as you sit in the truck. Appreciating the offer, you accept it.

"Thank you very much for this," you reply, putting the money in your wallet. She smiles, feeling good that you've accepted some money from her. She knows it's an extra expense to feed her, that you likely can't truly afford, after all. You do have money, but not a lot of it. Driving the truck down the street to the store, you stop and park it. She asks if she can come in with you.

"Sure, I'll introduce you to Sarah, the owner," you reply. "She's a good friend." You introduce Lesley to Sarah, and the two women measure up each other. Sarah is a brusque, business type that is masculine looking but kindly, all the same. She exudes a quiet confidence that sets Lesley at ease. She, too, has questions in her mind about who Lesley is, and why she is with you, but keeps them to herself.

You shop quickly, for what you need. Asking Lesley if she'd like anything special, and hear her decline, you then pay for the groceries. Bidding Sarah goodbye, the two of you make your way to the truck. "Let's get back to the Cleft and make dinner," you state, after you're settled in the cab. Pointing the truck in the direction of the Cleft, you start driving. You are quiet on the way home. Neither of you feel the need to talk much. There isn't a pressing sense of anxiety to spill out words between you. But, there is inconsequential conversation, pleasant in tone and subject. "Would you like to hear my guitar playing?" you ask her, winking at her.

"You play the guitar?" she asks, and then replies, "Oh yes, I'd love that. I'm not talented musically at all but I do enjoy listening to it."

As you approach the barbed wire fence at the edge of your property, she begins to recognize the scenery. "I was so glad to see that trailer, there." She points at the abandoned trailer on your land. "That was a long, hard walk, those 3 days," she continues. "I got so lost and turned around a few times. I didn't know which way was up. I curled up in a hollow, both nights, to sleep." Her voice sounds tired, as she speaks. "It was tough and I was scared."

"I bet!" you exclaim. "Yes, you looked in rough shape when I first saw you." You slow down and pull the truck in through the open gate and park it. She gets out, as well as you. Grabbing the bag of groceries from the cab, you wait for her. She grabs her suitcase from the back of the truck, and walks beside you, towards the Cleft.

Carrying the bag of groceries, you climb down the ladder. She climbs down after you, carrying her suitcase. You go to the kitchen. She takes her suitcase to her room. As you proceed to put away the groceries, she appears. "Can I help you do that?" she asks, approaching you.

"Sure, that would be nice," you reply. "Here," you say, handing a couple of cans of beans, "the beans go over there," pointing to the shelf where you want them placed. She helps store them away. It's surprisingly cool in the little kitchen area. With the windmill going up top, with the constant winds, you get just enough power to help charge the batteries to run your fridge. It's enough to keep the milk, eggs, butter, and meat cold and provide you with a freezer. The energy, from the windmill, is stored in the series of 12 volt batteries you have in the Cleft. It provides you with basic power. A simple, yet effective, method. You check the power level in them, and set the switch to the other set of batteries.

"What's that set of batteries for?" she asks, standing there, watching you.

"That's my basic power source," you reply. "The windmill up top, turning constantly with the winds, provides me with power, which is stored in these, to run this." You pat the fridge, in explanation. She nods her head. There is no need to explain farther, since she understands the basic principle of DC power. "I'd like to start dinner now, I think. Would a stir-fry with tofu suit you, for dinner?" you ask.

"Oh yes, that sounds great. Are you a vegetarian most of the time?"

"Um, no, but I do eat tofu, on a regular basis to keep costs down," you reply, honestly. You set to work. The hunger pangs are setting in, for both of you, reminding you that it's dinner time. The smell of the vegetables cooking makes her mouth water.

"Mm, that smells so good!" she exclaims. She sets the table with place mats and silverware. Again, you appreciate her presence. The dinner, once served, is delicious and satisfying to eat for both of you. "That was heavenly!" she says, once her plate is empty. "Thank you."

"No trouble," you reply, with a flick of your hand, dismissing her thanks. After all, you'd have been eating the same thing, without her presence. She helps clean up afterwards. You wash the dishes and she dries them and puts them away, with your direction as to where to put them. After the work is done, you light the coal oil lamp in its glass enclosure. It sends shadows dancing, in the room. You pick up your guitar, and begin to play, glad to have an audience, for once. She sits on a chair, near yours, and listens to the music. Her mind is far away, mulling over the events, back East. Your mind is on the music, gently picking out the notes from the guitar strings.

"Thank you Gareth, for a lovely day," she says, standing up. This breaks your concentration on the music. "I'm exhausted and must sleep," she continues.

"Good night Lesley. Thanks for sharing my day with me and again, thank you for the money for the food. I appreciate it." You're smiling at her. She smiles back.

"No trouble, I'm glad to help out. Good night." She turns and walks to her room, stumbling a little, in the dark. You see her lamp turn on. You are alone now. Picking away on the strings, you continue to enjoy your guitar playing, enjoying the peace. It's a quiet night, with the crickets chirping, and the moon out bright, and full. When you see her light turn out, you set down the guitar. You remove your torch from its hook and then turn out the lamp. Making your way to your room, you undress, brush your teeth and go to bed. Sleep comes easily this night, despite some thoughts about Lesley. "Why did she leave her job?" is a question on your mind. "Why doesn't she have any family?"

The next morning arrives. You lay in bed for a few minutes, gathering your thoughts. "I'd love to explore more of that cavern today," you think. Dressing quickly, in a pair of jeans, you make your way to the kitchen. You put the kettle on to boil for tea. As you turn, thinking of getting out the oats for your porridge, Lesley appears. This morning, she's dressed in blue jeans and a nice t-shirt which hugs her curves. A pleasant sight for you. "Good morning Lesley, how did you sleep?"

"I slept well, thank you," she replies, "and you? How did you sleep?"

"It was a dreamless night for me, I think," you reply, with a laugh. "Nothing that I can remember, anyhow."

"I had a dream of being so dry and wanting water," she replies, laughing. Her face really lights up with her lovely smile, you notice.

"Well, no wonder! Since you experienced that very thing, just a few days ago."

"Yes, luckily I had a few bottles of water in my car and was able to put them in my backpack while I was walking. That was lucky and good planning, on my part. But what I can't understand is how lost I got, out there." She indicates the desert with a sweep of her arm. "Why didn't the map, in the car, help me better?"

"Well, it's a bit confusing out here, honestly," you say, justifying her getting lost. "Most of the roads aren't really marked too well. Poorly mapped area." As you talk with her, you are performing the same ritual for breakfast, with tea and porridge. Lesley thanks you for making it for her, as you dish out the porridge, then pour the tea.

"I'd like milk and a spot of sugar in my tea," she states, reminding you that you need to get out the milk and sugar, for her.

"Oh, okay!" you exclaim, leaping up. She smiles at your haste, thinking you very cute for being nice to her.

As you sit down again, you say, "It's nice having someone to share my morning meal with, again," smiling at her. She blushes very prettily at your implied compliment.

"Thank you Gareth. Yes, it's lovely in here today with the sunshine streaming in and the nice temperature." Her eyes light up as she smiles at you. This view of you, sitting there, sipping your tea, with a bare chest, is pretty appealing to her. A strong surge of attraction runs through her, making her wonder why, "What is it about him that I find so appealing? Is it because he's funny, and gentle? Or maybe, it's because I just want a man, and he's around?" She mentally shrugs off the questions, too happy to spend much time troubling herself about it.

As you finish your porridge, and push away the dish, you ask, "would you like to explore that cave again today, with me?" You continue to sit, sipping your tea. your gaze levelled at her, awaiting her reaction.

"Oh, that would be fun! Yes, I did enjoy that yesterday, immensely," she replies. Her face has a happy smile on it, with nothing faked about it. You know she's genuinely excited.

"Oh good, I was worried that maybe you didn't enjoy it yesterday." Again, you smile at her, really liking her enthusiasm for your shared adventure. This girl's spirit is really to your liking.

"Oh, no, I really did enjoy it and yes, I want to go again. Let's get these washed up and then we should make a lunch, shouldn't we?" She indicates the dishes in front of you. You nod, agreeing with her. As soon as you're done your tea, you clean off the table. She's washing the dishes. You dry them. The two of you make sandwiches for lunch. She peels a couple of carrots for carrot sticks. After putting in a few granola bars and an apple for each of you, the lunch bag is ready.

"I'll go put on my swim suit on under my clothes," she says. She walks off to her room. You acknowledge that action of hers, your mind busy on what to take in the carryall. Packing the lunch into it is your next task. Your mind idly wonders what she looks like, with the bathing suit on, but that soon passes.

As she puts on her bathing suit, in her room, she's excited at the thought of seeing what else is in the cave. It's a growing sense of adventure. The thought of the dark, still cave doesn't upset her, at all. She reappears, in a short time, wearing stretchy pants, and a tight t-shirt, and running shoes, again. You can see the straps of her bathing suit under her top. It's obviously a two piece. "Okay, ready to go?" you ask her, yourself ready with soft shoes on.

"Yes, let's head out," she says, smiling at you. There is a sense of adventure in the air, with both of you feeling it. Sharing in this unknown exploration underground, not knowing what the result will be, but trusting each other, at the same time.

You climb up the ladder first, carrying the carryall bag. She climbs up after you. Then, as you begin walking, you each take a handle of the carryall bag, to share the weight of it. A few times, as you walk together, when you get out of rhythm, it's funny and awkward but when marching in rhythm, it works very well.

The walk to the cave is, again, a long one. Once there, you unpack the ropes. She helps to get the climbing harnesses set up. She gets hers on, quickly. You, and her, descend the lines, side by side. Once at the bottom, you take off the harnesses. When you get to the edge of the water, you both stop. It's a bit slippery for the footing. She undresses, and leaves her clothes there, in a pile. Her figure is slim and shapely in the bathing suit, you notice. While she's undressing, you are, as well. You aren't so modest as Lesley. Because you aren't wearing a bathing suit, you strip naked and wade into the water, carrying your clothes. She laughs when she sees your lack of modesty. You then swim your way to the other side. It's really rather spooky as Lesley swims beside you. You reach the other side of the lake and wade out. It's all sharp rocks and dangerous, slippery walking. "Careful here, it's slippery too," you warn her. You dress in your clothes, quickly. Then, finding the path, you walk along. It's a narrow, dark and twisty corridor, barely wide enough to make your way ahead. You both bang your head on the ceiling, a few times. "Ouch," you exclaim, "that hurts. We should be wearing helmets, at this rate," you mutter, angry at the pain. You are ahead of her, as the light from your headlamp shines out, lighting up the darkness. As you step ahead, something you spot in the glare of your headlamp, chills you to the bone. It's a human skull lying there. Attached to it, is a complete skeleton, lying there on the ground. "Oh my god," Lesley says, seeing it as well, peering around you, after you've stopped. She ran into you, not seeing how quickly you'd stopped, in front of her. It's a chilling moment, for both of you, as you look at it. It's lying in a position where a large rock is partly on the skull, creating a hole. "This must be what killed them," you say, as you get closer to examine it. The skeleton is clothed but the clothes have almost completely disintegrated away. The skeleton is lying on its side with a old, dusty leather bag beside it. You examine the bag. After opening it, you begin reading some of the dusty, old, crumbling papers. Your eyes widen in shock upon reading the name Gordon Williams. Your hands begin to shake in shock. You almost fall over and it's as though the cave begins to spin.

Lesley reaches out to steady you. "Gareth, are you okay? What is it?" Her voice is full of concern and worry. She leans forward, peering at the papers. You sit back on your heels.

You say in a quiet voice, "Oh my god, I think this is my father!" Indeed, from the look of the papers, and the writing upon them, it looks like he was exploring different caves, as well, and had obviously gotten this far. "A rock must've fallen and killed him with a blow to the head," you say, solemnly. This discovery has shaken you to the core. Lesley is quiet as well, pondering this turn of events. You can't think of anything else at the moment. "Um, can we go back to the Cleft?" you ask, partly in shock. Your hands are still shaking. Deciding to take the leather bag with you, you pick it up carefully. It's fragile, after sitting there, for a few years. Carefully cradling it in your arms, you're not quite sure how this will work to get it up the rock face you have to climb, not to mention the swim, first.

"Yes, I think that would be wise," Lesley says. "Enough exploring for today." She sees you trying to contain the leather bag in your arms. "Why don't you try wrapping it in your shirt?" she suggests. Taking off your shirt, you wrap it securely. You leave the skeleton as it was, turning your back on it. At the lake side you strip again. You wrap the leather bag in your pants, as well, trying to protect it. Then you begin swimming, carrying your clothes and the bag, wrapped within, on your head. It's difficult to swim with one hand, you realize. Your mind is filled with the thought, "he didn't leave me as I'd thought he had," and "how long has he been here?" When you reach the other side, you simply put your pants on, leaving the bag wrapped within your shirt. Once you reach the rock face, you use the climbing harness as a cradle for the leather bag, to free your hands. It's a long, slow climb up again. Neither of you are talking, both occupied with your own thoughts on this event. Pausing for a drink of water on the ledge, it is a welcome break. Lesley wordlessly accepts your canteen and has a long swallow of water. "I'm dry as dust," she says afterwards and hands you the canteen. You have a drink and then climb up the remainder of the rock face. Again, once you reach the top, you are gasping for breath. She, too, is gasping, once she reaches the top.

Once you catch your breath, you put the leather bag in the carryall with the ropes that you furl up. Again, there is no conversation between you. The implications of the magnitude of your discovery overwhelms you. Once you are ready, you march out to the opening. Lesley understands your mood, somewhat. She's being respectful of your thoughts, and not chattering, although she's feeling creeped out, still, by seeing the skeleton. "Um, shouldn't we stop and have lunch?" Lesley asks, feeling hungry. She knows you have a lot on your mind.

"Oh, yes, of course, we should eat now, before walking back," you stutter, having to suddenly switch gears in your mind. You set the carryall down, and dig out the lunch bag. Doling out the sandwiches, you both eat, silently, concentrating on the food. Your mind goes over and over the question, "Why was he there? What was he looking for? How did he get there? We didn't see any sign of ropes or climbing equipment." You don't share your thoughts, at all, with Lesley. She realizes, as she hears you slightly muttering, that you are deep in thought. You pack up the lunch materials quickly. "I'd like to get back to the Cleft now," you state, autocratically.

The walk back to the Cleft is a long one. "Shouldn't we report the discovery of the skeleton to the authorities?" pipes up Lesley. This gives you pause for thought, as you mull over her words.

"Hmm, yes, that would be wise, but he's been there a while, and I'd like a chance to go back there, again, before I call the police, okay?" She nods. There is silence as you continue the long walk back. You are still digesting the knowledge you've gained, and Lesley knows that you need the quiet to think. You aren't paying close attention to where you step. A rock causes your foot to roll on your ankle and you fall to the ground. "Argh!" you yell, suddenly grimacing in pain. It really hurts as you fall to the ground.

Lesley comes to your side in a instant. "What happened?!", she cries out in alarm.

"I've twisted my ankle on that damn rock." You indicate it with your hand. The throbbing, injured tissues send their message of pain. "God, it hurts!" You roll back and forth in pain, your face contorted in a grimace. She stands there, not sure what to do to help you. Kneeling down beside you, she puts her hand on your shoulder.

"Well, we'll have to get you back to the Cleft, won't we?" She's matter of fact about that. The feeling of warmth she gets through your shirt, with her hand, is a thought that crosses her mind quickly. "It's nice to touch him," is the thought she has.

"I should try and get back to the Cleft, shouldn't I?" She helps you up and you lean on her as you begin to hobble along. Indeed, your ankle is quite painful and throbbing with each step. She has to carry the carryall with the ropes now, as well as, trying to support you with her arm around your back. Your arm is over her shoulders. It's a long, slow shuffle, each step agony. The Cleft is a welcome sight for both of you. Even still, to get there, takes a eternity longer. Once at the ladder, she climbs down first. You carefully climb down after her, double stepping on each rung. You breathe a sigh of relief when at the bottom. Once again linking yourselves together, with your arm over her shoulders, and her arm around your back, you walk to the kitchen.

"Phew, that's a relief to be back here," you sigh, once you've taken a seat. "That was a long, painful, slow walk back, wasn't it?" She nods and gets the tray of ice cubes out of the freezer compartment.

"Let's get that sprain iced now," she states, business like. "Do you have a pressure bandage around too?"

"Yes, in the first aid kit under the sink." You point. She finds it and opens it. Retrieving the pressure bandage, she then, closes the kit again, and puts it away. She quickly transfers ice cubes to a bag, and then gets a towel and puts that on your ankle first, then the ice cubes.

"Let's hope it's not too bad a sprain." She's biting her lip, looking worried about it.

"Hmm, well, sprains take a few days to heal, and with you around, I'll be okay." You smile at her, happy you've got the help.

"Can I make dinner?" she asks, smiling back at you, feeling useful now. You agree in the affirmative, and appreciate her presence even more. Indeed, your exploring has taken up most of the day, along with the long, slow, painful shuffle back to the Cleft. The shadows are deep and the sun is on its downward arc. She takes on the automatic task of making a meal. You sit, with with the ice on your ankle, as it's propped up on another chair. You watch her bustling around. Her shirt and jeans are dusty from the climb in the cave. She's a welcome addition to your daily life.

"What did you think of the climbing today?"

"Oh, I found it easier to do, honestly, today and I was less scared of the dark as well." She is a confident cook, sure in her movements, as she quickly gets the meal ready. She's serving it on plates, with silverware at hand, in no time at all. You smile at her and say thank you for the lovely meal. She blushes quite prettily at your compliment.

After dinner, you talk with her. "How did my dad end up there is something that is nagging at me," you reveal. "Why would a rock falling down kill him? How long ago did this happen?" She knows there are no answers for the questions you are posing, you are only speaking out what is in your mind.

"Well, I suspect he was exploring the caves just as we've been doing," she replies. "And he got unlucky." You nod in agreement, feeling like a heavy weight is on you. You know you'll never get the complete story of exactly what happened but at least you know where your father has been for an unknown number of years.

It's nighttime now and again the crickets chirp softly. It cools off quickly in the desert after the sun sets. You are shivering. "I think I should get to bed early and rest this crazy ankle of mine." You indicate it with your hand. Lesley nods in agreement. She helps tape up your ankle with the tension bandage. Walking with her, towards your room, with your arm around her shoulders again, is the next step. Lesley helps you to the bathroom first. You do your business as she waits for you. Then she helps you into your bedroom.

"Would you like me to help you with taking off your clothes?" she asks, shyly, yet wanting to help you.

"Oh, yes, that would be nice, thanks," you reply. You undo your shirt and take it off, with her help. Then you unbutton your pants and unzip them. You sit on the edge of the bed. She pulls them off. The sight of your underwear makes her giggle inside, remembering your skinny dip in the underground lake. You notice her little smile and wonder what she's thinking. She's strangely attracted to you, she realizes, as she stands there a moment, with your pants in her hands. Seeing you there, in your underpants, your chest bare, makes her want to run her hands through the hair on your chest, and then kiss your lips. She wants you, she knows.

"Would you like some help with your pyjamas?" she asks. You notice her silence and her standing there, still, for a moment. It makes you wonder what is on her mind.

"Okay, thanks, that would be nice. It's warmer with them on, at night, here," you reply. You point to where you store them in a chest. She retrieves them for you. You pull them on, awkwardly, and tie the pants. The top is easily slipped on over your head. She helps get you under the covers.

"Have a good sleep," she says, as she departs your room. After she's departed your room, you think back over the day. The excitement you felt at going back there, to the cave. The thrill of the rappelling down the cliff again, in the dark. The vicarious thrill you got from skinny dipping, not really caring what she thought about seeing you naked. The shock of seeing the skull in the headlamp. The horror you felt at reading the papers and seeing that name pop out at you from the pages. The dizziness you felt, and the shock. The silence you knew you'd maintained while you climbed up the cliff again, in the cave. How painful that spraining of your ankle was. You wince at the memory. Then, of course, your mind gets to Lesley. You see her standing there, biting her lower lip, as she seems prone to doing, asking you if you wanted help with your clothes. You don't deny to yourself the certain thrill that coursed through your body, as a woman, as lovely as Lesley, asking if she could take off your clothes. Even if you knew it was only because she wanted to help you. The magnetic feeling you have towards her just grew stronger with that little exchange between you, you know. It excited you.

She makes her way down the ledge to the bathroom. Quickly using the toilet, she then goes to her room. Undressing quickly, shivering in the chill, she dons her pyjamas. After brushing her teeth quickly, she hops into bed. She doesn't go to sleep immediately, as was the case, on other nights. The sight of the skeleton keeps playing through her mind. It's haunting her. The feeling of unfinished business is strongly on her mind, this night. She recalls the warm feeling of your back as she helped you walk earlier. It was a pleasant experience for her to feel your weight leaning on her. She enjoyed the closeness of your bodies, she realizes. Shivering, for no particular reason, she thinks "I like Gareth. I should tell him more about myself. I want to tell him more. I want him to care." She lays there, in bed, indecisive. She sees you, naked, swimming in the lake. "Why didn't that freak me out?" she asks herself. "Why did I ask Gareth if I could help him with his clothes? He'll think I'm a man-hungry female throwing myself at him. God, you are so stupid Lesley!" she mutters. She tosses and turns more. "I should tell him about the rumours that were circulated about me," she whispers, into the dark. "But no, they weren't true and by telling him, I'm perpetuating the myth of the words." Finally, the fact of her not being able to sleep drives her up out of bed. She nervously walks along the pitch black ledge and walks into your room quietly. It's very dark but you've left a coal-oil lamp on low, so there is a bit of light. She finds that you are sleeping soundly with the covers pulled up tightly. She stands and stares at you, feeling tenderness and caring inside her. It's a warm, comforting feeling, to her, to care. She doesn't know why, but there is a core of deep caring in her, for you.

You awake, suddenly, startled and see Lesley watching you. "Would you like to come and talk to me?" you ask her, once you gather your senses. You gently pat the bed beside you. She eagerly agrees, and settles down, sitting cross-legged, at the end of the bed. "I'm sorry if I awoke you, but that scene just keeps replaying through my mind again and again." You have no need to ask what scene, since it's obvious what she's referring to. The skull and the skeleton was a very shocking sight for both of you.

"It's okay, you didn't wake me," you reassure her. She smiles, well aware that you were sleeping, but realizing that you just want her to feel good, by saying that. Your hands reach out, and clasp hers gently. The contact between you is warm and comforting. She feels as though a warm mantle of caring has been placed around her, by your touch, on her hands.

"Gareth, I'd like to tell you about my life now," she blurts out. Her face is covered by her hair as she looks down. You've not seen her with her hair down before. It's usually kept back in a ponytail. Quite neat and orderly except for in the truck, when it was windblown. Now, it hangs down, like a curtain, across her face. She is looking down at her small hands held within yours. Then she looks up at you. She's smiling.

"Oh really?" you answer her, smiling at her, comforting her, by the smile tugging at your lips. You're tired but interested in hearing what she has to say. This woman interests you in a way you've not felt before. You're eager for the words to spill from her lips. You kiss her hand and say "I'm happy that you trust me enough to tell me." She blushes prettily and settles herself, prepared to tell the tale of her life.

"I'll start at the beginning then work my way forwards," she starts. "My parents had me late in their lives and they were killed in a car crash when I was very young. I was brought up by my aunt who cared for me as though I was her own child. I attended university and got my degree in geology. I was working at a oil drilling and mining company, doing work that I loved. But other people at that firm didn't like me, and they made up stories about me and the boss to discredit me. They said that I was sleeping my way to the position I was in. I never once slept with anyone for the sake of work!" Lesley's tone raises in pitch as she talks, indicating her distress at the subject matter. Your hands clasp hers tightly, tightening the grip on them You're trying to convey your sense of sympathy through the touch, but know that you have to try to say something to help her feel better. You can tell she's upset by the way her breathing has quickened.

"It's okay Lesley, I believe you," you state seriously. She is silent now, watching for your reaction to her words. She's worried you may think less of her. "Did the boss deny any of it to anyone?"

"Thanks for the sympathy, but the boss was no help at all. When I went to him, to tell him the rumours that I overheard, in the washroom, I was sickened. He was a wuss, easily bent by others." She spits out the words, emphasis placed on the word wuss. "I just happened to overhear two ladies, whom I thought friends, talking, while I was in there. You know how you think people are your friends? Then, with a single blow you find just how wrong you are? Argh, I was so damn angry!" She is shaking with emotion as she speaks, her body full of anger. "I felt my position was untenable in the situation, so I left the job," she says "and I demanded an apology, in writing, from the boss. I didn't get it but at least I got a decent letter of reference. I'll have to find work elsewhere, of course, but believe me, I'm sick and tired of damn office politics, believe me!" She pauses, takes a shaky breath and says, "that's my sordid little tale of my being here now. Is it any wonder I want to escape? Yes, I'm looking for escape. I want to be free. I want to be happy." You pause, letting her catch her breath, seeing how emotional she is, knowing that what you say next will be taken in by her, regardless of its importance. She's revealed something very painful to you and needs your support, you know.

"Sadly, some people like to play games with others lives and they don't care who gets hurt," you state, truthfully. "Lies get made into half-truths just because people want to bring you down a rung or two," you continue. She nods, knowing the truth of it all.

"I had to get this off my chest. It's been eating me up ever since I left. I've not really explained, before, to anyone, how shocking this was. I was a Type A personality, married to my work, you see, and friends weren't that important. Yes, I had friends, but at a time like this you just wonder 'who does care?' when the chips are down." She looks down and hot tears splash out onto your joined hands. "I'm so fucking angry at those people," she yells, showing her frustration. "How dare they screw up my life like that? I never did anything to hurt them, ever. Why did they have to hurt me?" You mutely shake your head, not understanding why, any more than her, why people say untrue things.

"Well, I know it's a horrible thing to find out that somebody isn't whom you thought they were," you reply, "and to be backstabbed like that, by the people you worked with." You sit there, mutely shaking your head, feeling so badly for Lesley.

"Oh well, I'll get over it, eventually," she says, shrugging her shoulders as if to say, "bugger off!" to the people who hurt her. She wipes her tears away with the sleeve of her pyjamas, and shakes out her hair. You can see her mentally strengthening herself again. The walls are going up again, to fortify herself.

"Yes, you'll get over it, and I'll help you. I'm here to talk to any time of the day or night, okay? I've had my own personal trials, and tribulations. So, never fear, please talk to me any time," you say, trying to comfort her. She gives you a weak, shaky smile and then is silent. After a few minutes of silence with your hands joined and a feeling of calmness settling upon you both again, she speaks once more.

"I trust your judgment, and wanted to tell you this story," she says, shyly. She blushes and says, "I'm so embarrassed to tell you this." You look at her, not understanding what she's trying to say. She's biting her lower lip, obviously unsure whether to go ahead with what she wants to say to you. She looks at you, evaluating it again in her mind, obviously. Then she blurts out, "I've never actually been with a man, you know," blushing a deep red and looking down. You pull up her chin with your finger underneath it. Her eyes look into yours. Then, as though guided by a outer force, you both move towards each other and your lips touch in a kiss. It's a friendly, dry, chaste kiss. You sit back, and smile at her, afterwards. Her lips felt dry and warm as you kissed them. You'd love to kiss her more.

"Really?" you ask, your loins stirring at the thought of taking this woman on a journey she'd not forget. She nods, still blushing, and then is silent, embarrassed that she's revealed something so private to you, a virtual stranger, after all.

You sense her embarrassment by seeing her blush and her silence and don't want to add to it. You break the ice between you by saying "Thanks for helping me out today with my sore ankle," and grinning at her. She silently thanks you for the change in the subject.

"Yes, it was good that I was there today, for you." She stands up and says, "Would you mind if I gave your foot a nice massage? It may well help the ankle and stop the swelling so much." You agree. She sits with your sore ankle on her lap after you lift it out from the covers. She removes the pressure bandage. Her dry, warm hands feel very soothing on your sore ankle. "A friend of mine did this for me one time and it really helped the healing," she says. Indeed, it feels so nice to have her hands on you. Her hands have a healing, therapeutic touch to them. As she's massaging your ankle, she looks at you, into your eyes, and says "thanks for listening to me tell my silly little tale. I know it's stupid to get so upset about an untrue thing, but in my little world, it was a terrible shock."

"Oh no Lesley, it was a terrible shock, I can tell and I'm glad that you felt you could unburden yourself to me. Thank you for sharing your story, painful as it was for you, with me. I feel honoured that you shared it with me. I hope it helped." You sit there, your ankle upon her lap, her hands on it, and you're grinning at her like a silly school boy.

"Oh good, that's nice to hear. Thank you," she replies, grinning back at you. Her soul does feel lighter now that she's purged the thoughts out.

"Thanks very much for doing that," you say, when she's finished massaging your ankle. Your ankle does feel better. She applies the pressure bandage again, and then helps you tuck your foot back under the covers. She bids you goodnight and then departs. Your mind is on her after she's gone. Your hands move of their own volition, as though they are tracing her curves. Your mind plays out the natural consequences of a man and a woman together, late at night, who care for each other. But it's all a dream and you groan, feeling unfulfilled. "How does she do that?" you groan, wishing she was really there, in bed, beside you.

Meanwhile, Lesley is lying in her bed, thinking back over the conversation herself. She, too, dreams of what it would feel like to be there, in your bed, your hands upon her. It's an unsatisfying sleep for both of you that night.

Continued in Chapter 5


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