Hello once again, and boy am I just gunning through this. I told myself I needed to calm down and not write as much as I did, but quite frankly, It just happened again. I’m not trying to increase my average words per day, but I’m finding myself increasing it subconsciously anyway. I mean yeah, there’s nothing wrong with that, but man is it a whole load of time. And time is something that I can’t buy (I think). But anyway, I’m still having a whole load of fun anyway, and I’m liking where I’m taking this. Word count: 19,333. Here you go, chapter 10 of “Home For The Unwanted”.
“Spark…” Ryan said to himself as he came to the end of the district.
“Where are you?” As Ryan arrived at the last few stores, he turned to look left and right. Another street connected the district to his right, and a little ways over his left was the town river. A bridge connected the two halves of the town between the river, although Ryan never really found the need to cross.
“Damn,” Ryan said to himself. Ryan sighed and turned back towards his meeting spot with Carrier. If anything, he would need to tell Lorna and have her be involved. If anything, that idea entailed inconveniences and a load of loud yelling, Ryan thought.
“Hey lover boy!” Too late, Ryan thought. Lorna never seemed to fail to amaze him, and at the same time, Ryan never gave much heed to the sudden appearance of Lorna. It was to be expected, and Ryan would find it even stranger if Lorna hadn’t showed up out of nowhere when he was thinking of her.
“What you up to? Strolling down memory lane?” Ryan ignored her last remark, and paid no heed to her apparent masterful intuition.
“Hold on. Hold on. Look!” Lorna pointed to a store behind Ryan. It was a toy store that landed between being antiqued and modern. The front window featured rusted music boxes and old Victorian style dolls, while on the side it advertised new models and editions.
“Want to check it out? Looks interesting.” Ryan cycled in his mind the odds of Lorna already realizing the truth. It was quiet high. Despite this, Ryan still found the need to inform Lorna and not get side tracked by her antics.
“Not right now. Look, Lorna, listen.” Although the promise of spending time in a toy store that Ryan had never noticed in a part of town where he never visited with a beautiful girl like Lorna did seem promising, Ryan had other plans to attend to.
“Come on. No skin off your back. Let’s go!”
“Look. Listen, it’s urgent!” Before Ryan could make his point, Lorna grabbed Ryan’s hand and dragged him inside the store.
“Hey! Hold on!”
“Hello!” Lorna boomed out as they entered the store. The owner was an old grayed man who was reading a newspaper behind the counter. He didn’t look up towards Lorna or Ryan, but simply shifted in his seat as the door bell rang.
“Explore, Ray. Explore.” Lorna ran through the aisles with her hands out. Ryan sighed, and his patience had dried. Even if he did leave now, he would still need to find help. With Lorna in front of him, Ryan couldn’t afford to leave, he thought. He had to put up with her indecipherable bantering.
“Lorna!” Ryan walked through the aisles, dodging toys that had stuck out towards him. Some were misplaced, and others seemed to have the color drawn from them.
“Lorna!” Ryan called out again towards Lorna, who had just passed by and entered another aisle. Her hair hung loosely behind her as she playfully traced the shelves of toys. It was like chasing a golden lady bug, Ryan thought.
“Ray! Look! Look.” Lorna stopped in the middle of an aisle and picked up a wooden rectangular box. Ryan peered over her shoulder as she opened the box. There was a checkered board and toppled porcelain pieces inside.
“Chess?” Ryan said.
“I used to play. Mom said I was good…. But not anymore. Not anymore.” Lorna looked down with heavy eyes, her expression loosened, and her hands began shaking.
“It was fun. Fun,” Lorna said as she recovered quickly and placed the chess set back on the shelf
“Oh!” Before Ryan could utilize the brief opening, Lorna had already dabbled onto another bauble.
“Sunflower would like this,” Lorna said as she held up a makeshift necklace. Each bead had a different color. It wasn’t something Lorna would wear, but Ryan agreed with her notion. It was perfect for Sunflower.
“And this is for Runner!” Lorna walked over to pick up a whistle.
“Runner likes exploring the forest, but sometimes he does get lost. It’s a big place, and I know more than once I’ve had to bail him out. With this, he won’t ever have to feel scared when going out.” Ryan wasn’t sure whether the whistle was a gift, or insurance. However, Ryan could see an energetic running Runner using the whistle for more than just calling for help.
“And a watering pot for Winter!” Lorna picked up a small plastic watering pot from one shelf.
“And….A doll for Hailstone.”
“A doll!?” The idea of Hailstone playing with dolls was not within Ryan’s realm of freethinking.
“For Walker….. Oh! I know, he’ll love this.” Lorna grabbed a set of binoculars from a shelf. They looked in good condition, and at this point, Ryan was simply falling into Lorna’s pace, not really questioning her decisions. After all, Lorna had been in this norm far longer than Ryan has, and the things she knew about the children would inevitably be more than what Ryan knew. He was still adjusting to the norm. He was still finding it’s pieces.
“Spear would want…. this!” Lorna grabbed a kaleidoscope.
“Carrier is a worrywart, but he’s a good guy. He’s always looking out for people, and he never gives up. Sometimes though, he can get really worked up, but he isn’t afraid to ask others for help. That’s what makes him reliable, he’ll always be there when you need it, and when you don’t expect it.” Lorna grabbed what seemed to be an empty wooden box from one of the shelves.
“And at last, we have Spark. He’s a go-getter. He’s always up in the air, always looking for excitement and he always seems to get people in the weirdest situations.”
“Lorna, we have to–” Before Ryan could finish Lorna walked ahead and over to the counter.
“Listen! Please, it’s important.”
“So is this.” Lorna grabbed a few bills from her pocket and placed it over the counter. After the transaction was done, Lorna took the bag of gifts and left the store without much regard to Ryan.
“Lorna!” Ryan yelled as he left the store. His voice was loud enough to catch the attention of a few passer-bys. Ryan was genuinely angry at Lorna, which showed in his eyes and clenched fists. Ryan couldn’t think of anything else, and thus he didn’t find his sudden outburst as strange. Rather, at this moment, that was the only right decision that Ryan could think of.
“I’m sorry, Ray.” Lorna said as she turned to face the angered Ryan.
“Look, I didn’t mean to play you around on a goose chase, okay? I was just buying some time.”
“Buying some time?”
“I know Spark got lost.”
“You did?” Although at this point, Ryan wasn’t very surprised.
“And I bumped into Carrier on my way here. He already found him. He somehow got lost and wandered to the next part of town.”
“Over the bridge?”
“What were you doing over there then?”
“I had an errand to do. Just came back, and saw you here. I heard everything from Carrier and told him to go ahead. Actually, he should still be just around the corner.” Lorna walked to the edge of the shopping district and peered off into the distance. Ryan slowly walked over as well, and began making sense of everything Lorna said.
“See what I mean?” Lorna said as she pointed at Carrier. He was limping over as he carried a young child on his back. Ryan didn’t need any introductions to realize that it was Spark he was carrying. Spark had long black hair that looped over his eyes. He was a bit shorter than Carrier, but Ryan could tell that he was about the same age as Runner. One distinguishing feature that Ryan could immediately make out was that one of Spark’s hands had been bandaged. It wrapped around the middle of Spark’s hand and seemed to have been put on rather recently.
“I found Carrier holding Spark. Apparently, Spark was crying his eyes out when Carrier found him. He must be exhausted after wandering around town like that. Even though Spark would jump at adventure, something like that just wasn’t for him. He was scared. And so was Carrier. And I know Hailstone must be worried to death by now. But she won’t show it.” Lorna looked wistfully at Carrier and Spark. Her breathing had slowed, and despite the cold winds brushing up against Lorna’s cheeks, she didn’t falter. Ryan had noticed as well. Ryan got good at noticing these things with Lorna. It was probably due to all the exposure that he begun doing it subconsciously, he thought.
“Why didn’t you get Spark anything?” Ryan had finally realized that Lorna left the shop without getting Spark a gift.
“Because he would lose it the moment I gave it to him.”
“It’s not an issue of faith. Spark doesn’t wait for anyone. Spark is the type of person to show off, to make sure that there is always something exciting going on. He just isn’t suited for something like a gift. He’ll out do it the next day, for sure. For sure.”
“And you’re certain he won’t get jealous from everyone else?”
“Consider who you have. The only one that’s going to give him a hard time is Hailstone. But she does that with everyone else.”
“So it’ll be fine either way?”
“Yeah. It’ll all be fine.”
“Should we go help him?”
“No. This is Carrier’s job. Let’s let kids be kids, and children be children.” Lorna smiled sweetly at Ryan, who sighed in response. As they headed back to the building, Ryan had one last inquiry that he forgot to ask.
“By the way, Lorna?”
“Shoot away, Ray.”
“Why did you buy all that stuff? I’m sure it wasn’t just a coincidence that you came back from your errand and just stumbled on the store. I’m sure none of what you do is ever coincidence.”
“You seem to think really badly of me don’t you.”
“No!” Ryan refuted her statement quickly. Almost too quickly for Ryan to really continue his sentence. Ryan was surprised at himself, but to Lorna, it was merely an amusing sentiment as she began giggling.
“I mean, no. I don’t think of you like that. I just think that you plan everything out. it’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Ryan added to explain himself.
“You might be right though. I might be planning everything I do. But who really knows, right? Right.” Lorna paused before continuing. She looked at the old bark of the trees and sighed in tune with the low winds. Her hair fluttered ever so slightly with every step she made, and her hands swung back and forth with the bag of gifts she held.
“Why do you think I bought these?”
“Me? Well, to be honest, I think you bought them on a whim.”
“Even though you said I plan everything?”
“You planned the errand. You planned to meet me. And you planned to buy the gifts. Even though that plan was made on a whim, it was still a plan.”
“Would you still call it a plan?”
“Maybe. Maybe.” Lorna smiled softly to her side, which was out of Ryan’s vision.
“So what’s the real reason?”
“The real reason? Hmm…..” Lorna placed one finger on her cheeks. The notion was strange, but Ryan didn’t catch up on it. Once Lorna was finished thinking, she turned around in a big motion and placed her finger out.
“The real reason…..”
“The real reason…..” Ryan repeated.
“The real reason that I bought all those things, was because I wanted to spend time with you!” Lorna leaned in flirtatiously towards Ryan and winked at him. Ryan was unfazed, and unamused. Ryan couldn’t take much of what Lorna said seriously, especially when her tone was so uppity and off.
“Right, so what’s the real reason?” Ryan said.
“Aw, you didn’t find my confession cute?”
“No.” Ryan said without emotion. Rather, if it really was a confession, Ryan would have been completely left aback. Something like that would have shattered every norm he had ever came to know and enter. Something like that wasn’t just a norm on its own, but it was an experience that he would never know of, he thought. It was something that he didn’t even dream of. It was oblique chalk.
“Well. Let’s leave the reason why I bought these a secret between you and me.”
“But I don’t kn–”
“It’s so much of secret, that even you don’t know what it is. Now that’s authentic, don’t you think?” Ryan sighed and finally dropped the topic. He concluded that he would never get the answer he wanted if he continued a back and forth with Lorna. Although the day ended on a good note, there was still something lingering within Ryan’s mind. And it was a topic that Ryan was surprised he never thought of. Perhaps he was so absorbed within his new norm that he never got the chance to rest and think about the details, or perhaps he just didn’t want to think about it, for it would make his pieces even further. Ryan wondered how Lorna had money.