The Pilgrim Meets You

“Inside. ‘nside. ‘nside. ‘nside.  Get. In. Side.”  Johnka chased Tritti into the empty red tent.  He stumbled to the ground trying not to overrun her with his bulk after she halted abruptly in the entrance.  He just lay there in the sand rather than get up.

“What was that?”  Tritti knelt to help him up but he invited her to just sit.  She crossed her legs and rubbed the sand out of her eyes.  The wind pulled loudly at the tent trying to drag it out of it’s moorings like a barking dog straining it’s tether.

“Raish.  That was a raish wind.  a little early in the season I’d say, but a raish for sure.”  Johnka said it like he was trying to convince himself as well.

“I know what a raish is old man.  I meant the woman.  The woman with the gun.”

“You saw that?”

Tritti nodded tightly as if to ask, ‘How the hell could I not?’

Above the noise of the raish they could hear shopkeepers and patrons alike yelling to get in out of the wind.  Curses at the sand for lost income and scattered products out weighed the wailing of a single woman who had just lost her daughter.  All Tritti could hear was that woman.

“She was dressed like me.  She had hair braided like mine.  Anyone not knowing either of us would have thought us sisters–twins maybe.”

“Twins?  Certainly not.  You are much more beautiful…”

“Stop.  Stop it.  Just because I can’t figure out who you really are doesn’t make me stupid or blind,” Tritti seethed, “That woman…that woman was trying to kill me.  And she would have had you not paused to admire that other girl’s scarf so obviously.”  Tritti paused before saying the next thing.  She wanted to hear it in her head first to make sure she wasn’t guessing.  “You saved my life by helping that woman take that girl’s instead.”

Johnka opened his mouth to explain, but something else came out instead.  “Hate me then, but you’re alive.”

“I will.  Never doubt that old man.  Never doubt that.”