My heart within me like a stone

[p. Dahlia]

POSTED: Fri Jan 11, 2019 1:10 am

[350]

"...Clover. Hey."

Clover started, turning her head from her haggard reflection to stare at the equally haggard old coyote staring at her. Her floppy ear swished against her cheek and wafted stink toward her nose. She tried to open her chestnut eyes, the lids fluttering over the sunken, dull orbs, and straightened like she was awake. Should have been easier to pull off, considering she had been awake for the past couple dozen hours now.

Despite her bony appearance, Vesper did look more lively. Her pale blue eyes held sharp awareness, despite the sadness that touched them now. "Sweetheart," she said, and the gentleness of her voice made Clover's shoulders inch up. "Listen," she added, then clicked her mouth shut, her gaze shifting off toward the little glacial pond. She was quiet a moment, seemingly thinking better about whatever she was doing to say.

She had said a lot since it happened. Not all at once, but in little trickles here and there, like snowmelt dripping off a tree branch. Each splash would make Clover flinch and feel cold, and so Vesper had stopped saying so much, thankfully.

It wouldn't help anyway. Most of the advice Clover already knew by heart. She'd lost people before.

"Do you want to sleep in the old caves today?" Vesper asked instead. Her bushy tail swished as she looked around at the moorland, her eyes narrow. "We aren't far. Familiar den might make me feel better."

Clover blinked and shifted her paws, glancing back down at the still surface of the rocky pool. A gaunt dog, smeared with dirt and soot, stared back up at her. Judgment was in those shadowed eyes. Of course she would do whatever might make Vesper feel better -- what other choice was there?

Sure, that's fine.

"Clover?"

"That's fine?"
Clover repeated, but realized that she hadn't said it aloud the first time. Her lids drooped again. "Yes. It's probably safer."

Vesper said nothing again, but frowned, pain in her narrow face. Clover was too fixated on the water to notice.
Loners
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Sticks and Stones