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    Beyond My Knowing, chapter 4

    When Kes returned to the starving family’s house and came through the door, the woman she’d met before was still there with her daughter. Only now, she was laying down on her side, her daughter cradled in her arms in a dead sleep. The woman didn’t stir when she came in, and Kes would have thought she were asleep too, if she couldn’t sense mentally that she was still at least half-awake. Looking to the side, she saw the woman’s son sitting on the other cot, eyes half-open and leaning against the wall. He was clearly only still awake because he was forcing himself to be. She sensed from him that he’d been lost in his own thoughts, in self recriminations if she was understanding at all correctly.

    He looked over at her and she almost expected to see what she’d seen on those other boys’ faces: Anger and challenge – she half thought that was somehow an inborn trait for the males of this race of people. But the boy only looked at her with a vague curiosity and not just a little guarded weariness of spirit. Still though, there was also some remnants of defiance and pride in his eyes. As though he were trying to tell her, without words, that he knew very well that he was at her mercy, but that wouldn’t give in none-the-less if she tried to take advantage of that fact.

    She shook her head a little, not quite knowing what to make of that way of thinking about things. In any case, she returned her attention to the woman. She went over to her and knelt by her, shaking her by the shoulder just a little. –I’m back.– She spoke softly, mind to mind, as she watched the woman open her eyes. Their eyes met and Kes smiled softly to her, the woman looking at her in wonder and reaching out to touch her face and hair. Kes let her for a moment, then gently took her hand in both of hers. –I brought food and water for you…– She told her, letting go of her hand and reaching down to the floor for the 50cm container of water, giving it to her.

    The woman struggled somewhat to prop herself up enough and took it, gazing at her in even more wonder as she felt the slightly cool metal in her hands. She said something like ’I was sure you weren’t real’. Kes took off the lid for her and the woman smelled the water, taking a sip first. Kes got the impression that she did so only to test that it was safe, before nudging her daughter, trying to get her to wake. The little girl woke, but only just – she acted fussy and blurry and moved only a little. Her mother poured a few drops into her mouth though and she seemed to perk up a little bit, enough to drink with her help.

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