When we left Jonah last week one of the fanged beasts that inhabit this tangled and briar ridden island threatened to end his life. In a moment of carelessness, he’d left his dagger laying inside the hut. Let’s see how he gets out of this one.
Jonah managed to sidestep the lumbering beast, but it quickly turned and charged again. He cast an eye toward the hut, calculating. Could he make a dash for it? The blade of his dagger glinted in the sunlight as if taunting him.
A piercing whistle cut through the air.
The beast stopped in his tracks, tucked his tail and slinked off into the tangled brush growling.
Jonah whirled in the direction of the whistle and blew out a long breath. Tidus stood a good ten yards away.
“Hey,” Jonah yelled. He scrambled toward the boy. “Please don’t run. I need to talk to you.”
Tidus held a crudely woven basket in his hands and approached Jonah. “Here.” He shoved the basket at Jonah. “I thought you could use these.”
Jonah lifted the lid and glanced inside to find an array of vegetables and fruit. All his original questions fled. “Where did you get these?” His mouth watered at the sight.
“I grow them.” Tidus fell into step beside Jonah. “Where I live looks nothing like this.” He gestured at the tangled terrain.
Jonah pulled a Mangosteen from the basket and bit into it, ignoring the juice that trickled down his chin. “I want to go with you, Tidus.” He said between bites.
“I thought I was taking you, but they wouldn’t let me.”
They reached Jonah’s hut and ducked inside.
“Who are they? And thank you for this gift.” He set the basket on the ground and grabbed another piece of fruit.
“You are welcome. I don’t exactly know who “they” are. My father was teaching me when he disappeared and never returned. Then my mother died and that left me.”
Jonah let out a soft whistled. “Sorry kid. And, sorry I was such a bully the other day. I wanted to get off this godforsaken island more than anything. I was only thinking of myself.”
“Why are you here? Did your mom die too?”
Jonah leaned back. How he wished that were the reason. “I’m here because I was given a choice. I could either go to prison or come here. I chose here. At least I’m not locked in a box, although now I wonder if wouldn’t have been easier.”
“You must have done something really bad.” Tidus reached for Jonah’s book, The Four Agreements. “My mom used to read me bedtime stories out of this book.”
“Bedtime stories?” Jonah shoved a hand through his hair. He couldn’t bring himself to tell this boy about all his bad deeds. “Tell me more about your mom.”
Tidus’ eyes glowed an iridescent green. “She was beautiful and kind. She had long silky violet hair and her hands could do such amazing magic. Both my mom and dad were teaching me, but now, I’m alone and only half-taught.” His voice trailed off. “I wish my dad would come back.”
Jonah’s mind scrambled for logic but found none. This kid was obviously born to a witch and warlock. He recalled stories he’d heard about these people being banished from the mainland hundreds of years ago. Even though Tidus appeared to be a young boy of twelve, in truth he could be over one hundred.
He prodded. “Tell me about your dad.”
The clear blue skies disappeared in an instant. Thunder boomed, and angry dark clouds swirled, turning day into night. Lightning crackled in the brush nearby and a deluge of hard driving rain pounded the hut.
Tidus cowered. “I don’t think I can.”