Johnka placed himself between the hole and her and continued the same quick pace he held in the sand. Tritti tried loosing her hand from his grip, but he didn’t relent. Looking behind his back as he pulled her down a stone stair, she could see the hole was deeper than it was wide. She looked down on green, recently leafed, spring trees.
“I hope you’ll like my home. We’ve come at the best time, I think. Yes?” Johnka asked. She realized they had stopped on a landing and that he was looking at her; she’d been trying to make out the words of a strange conversation she’d been hearing from below as they came down.
“Oh, sorry. Here. Here.” Johnka guided her with two hands on her waist to the edge of the landing and placed her at the wooden rail. “You can hear them speaking? You’ve got an ear for things, Tritti, my girl. I call them Norraleena and Sam.”
Johnka leaned out over the rail and cocked his head to aim his ear to the speakers below. His eager expression encouraged Tritti to do the same, so she did.
The voice she immediately attributted to Sam spoke near constantly in a throaty bulbous sort of way. At first she thought he must be full of himself—talking without pause—but even unable to make out his words as they sifted up the cliffside and became unintelligible Tritti realized he was trying to impress Norraleena. That his sometimes-near-laughter voice was a mixture of desperation and humor. Tritti wished he would stop talking for a moment and just listen to Norraleena.
Tritti found Norraleena’s voice droopy and thin. She alternated moments of light aggreement with interjections of her own comments. Sam ignored those. Listening longer though, Tritti realized Norraleena never stopped speaking either. What she initially thought were polite interuptions she realized were simply the louder phrases of her own unending flow of words.
Tritti shook her head. “Who…what are they?”
Johnka winked and headed down the stone stairs.
Tritti tried to listen some more, but her attention was now on the round man skipping down the stairs to the next landing. She leaned back over the rail to see how many more to the bottom: no more. Returning her attention to her host she saw a rope bridge a quarter way around the hole. Johnka was already halway down to it.
401 words on day 882