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PART five: diin

Chapter 34: The Walk

The next week was spent walking from town to town. DIIN and CREFY saw things they had never seen. Huts that were larger than any they had ever laid eyes on. Piles of garbage that went on for as far as the eye could see. They walked through mountains that towered around them, some so unimaginably tall that they actually touched the sky itself. They even saw an animal that had no feet and slid around on its belly. DIIN’s father tried to catch it, but it turned out to be too fast for him. CREFY’s father had called it something. A serp? Or a sapent perhaps? Neither of them could remember.

Their walks were long and tiring, but neither child complained. They were too busy soaking in the new sights they saw, with their sense of adventure keeping them completely occupied, and to the relief of their parents, completely unquestioning as well. Both children spent all their time absorbing everything around them to the fullest possible extent, asking all sorts of questions about the meager wildlife and vegetation they encountered, instead of inquiring about where they were going and why, what these things called diseases and gangs were, and why their parents were running away from them in the first place. The excitement during their travels wore them out by the end of each day, ensuring that they slept soundly, completely unable to listen to the worried conversations their parents had at night.

CREFY’s mother worried about her belly. She didn’t like the signals her body was giving her. DIIN’s father worried about the journey and its perils. So did CREFY’s, even though he couldn’t get himself to admit it. DIIN’s mother refused to let herself worry about anything. None of the others said anything, but she could tell what was going on in each of their minds. And so, she chose to be their rock. She did everything she could to keep their spirits up, and was a large part of why her companions didn’t unravel. Her unwavering positivity, her warm smile, her constant reassurances, and her unshakable faith in a higher power held the group together.

The group had made it through half the first leg of their journey by the end of the week. The tiny village they found themselves in was much smaller than theirs. Its inhabitants, however, were friendly and kind. They didn’t have much, but they shared whatever they could with them. They gave them a roof to rest under, and whatever leftovers they could spare to eat. Sensing that they were in a safe place, DIIN’s mother left the group and ventured from hut to hut on her own, gathering every elderly female OSZA she could find. She brought them all back to take a look at CREFY’s mother, who had been cramping up more often recently, and had been harboring the same suspicions as her, only for much longer.

The elderly OSZA shooed everybody in the hut away the second they laid eyes on CREFY’s mother. It could happen any time, they said. All that had to be done now was to wait. DIIN and CREFY had no clue as to what was happening. Their initial gut instinct was to be scared, but the joy in their fathers’ eyes got rid of it almost instantaneously.

“This has to be a sign,” CREFY’s father said. “The Gods are telling us that we are on the right track. This is their way of blessing us.”

DIIN’s father agreed. The children couldn’t understand what their fathers were going on about, and why they were so happy about their mothers being trapped by a group of old female OSZA. Their fathers didn’t bother clearing up their doubts either. You’ll see, was all they said. It’s a surprise, they teased, smiling mischievously.

What DIIN and CREFY witnessed a day later, when they were allowed back into the hut, wasn’t just a surprise to them, it was an act of magic. The hut, before they had been chased away, had consisted of their mothers and a handful of older OSZA females. But when they were finally given permission to enter it again, they found, to their astonishment, that the hut had a new member. One that seemed to have come out of thin air. A tiny, red eyed thing, with skin as gray as theirs, no bigger than a grownup’s palm, lay asleep next to CREFY’s mother.

The entire room was fixated on the little thing. Where did it come from? they wondered. It took them a few minutes to connect the dots between the shape and size of CREFY’s mother’s belly, and the thing that looked like a minuscule version of an OSZA. They remembered what they had been told, about the life that grew inside the belly, about the sibling that was to arrive soon. They moved forward cautiously when DIIN’s mother beckoned them over.

“Did it come out of there?” DIIN asked, pointing to CREFY’s mother’s belly.

“Yes, child. She did,” her mother laughed and answered.

“How do you know it’s a she?” CREFY inquired, his head going from one mother to the other.

“Mothers know these things. Now come you two, meet your little sister,” CREFY’s mother said.

“What will she be called?” DIIN’s father asked, a few minutes later.

GOBA,” CREFY’s mother responded.

“Hope… Very fitting,” DIIN’s father smiled and said.

“Rest now, my dear. We will be here when you wake up,” CREFY’s father said, motioning for the kids to follow him out.

The group stayed in the village for the next three days. DIIN’s parents and CREFY’s father spent each day helping its inhabitants in whatever way they could. DIIN and CREFY spent their time alternating between helping CREFY’s mother with her various needs, and exploring the area together. Before they knew it, it was time to move on again.

The residents of the village bestowed a parting gift upon the group before they left. They had all pitched in and gathered enough material to create a makeshift wheel barrow of sorts. DIIN and CREFY’s parents didn’t know how to express their gratitude. They had nothing to give back to the villagers. Nothing from the currency they carried with them could be spared. They had no food or other possessions to share. All they could do was thank the villagers, which they did repeatedly, but it didn’t seem to be enough. There simply weren’t any words that could express how such an act had made them feel. Teary eyed, speechless, and choking with emotions, they walked out of the village, vowing to never forget its kindness and hospitality.

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