Gulls

A girl was found on an island by a passing cargo ship, she does not speak the language of her rescuers and seems to be able to talk to seagulls. Sorry if my use of Japanese is incorrect, I am only just learning the language.

This was written for an image prompt competition. It is my first story and any comments would be welcome.

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8. Screaming in the night

"Kaiko!" Jode pushed at the door, trying the handle. When it didn't open, he took a few steps back and charged at it with his shoulder. It didn't give an inch. "Kaiko! Can you hear me?"

No answer came. That was more chilling for him than her screaming. "Kaiko!" he yelled as he charged the door again.

He was panting now, his shoulder sorely bruised. Again! I must get that door open. He prepared himself for another go.

Jode ran, his good shoulder first, through the open door— into Kaiko.

He sees her, but is too late to stop, and so the two tumble onto her bed from the impact, clinging to one another.

"Kaiko! You are safe?" he asked. She nods, her eyes closed on tears seeping through.

"Are you hurt?" he tried to find an injury on her, worried that he had broken her. That he had caused her to weep.

Kaiko showed no sign of running out of tears. So he let her cry, holding her to himself, letting his shirt soak up the hot fluid. He was aware that she smelt like salt water, fish and dark places.

Jode was never the kind of person that needed or wanted to be driven by lust. He found the sea was the only mistress he had ever needed. Kaiko was different, though. The love he felt towards her was gentle, not a hot passion that overwhelmed, but small waves that lapped on a distant shore. It was the kind of love that could be seen as appropriate for a man twice the age of the girl to feel.

And he thought over this while she embraced him back. She held on to him hard, like he was some sweet dream that she couldn't bear to forget come dawn.

Her grip grew closer and firmer until he didn't think he could breathe. Jode felt that his head had swollen to twice its normal size, maybe about to drop off, when she let go of him.

The sudden change caught him by surprise, and Kaiko had almost fallen off the bed completely before he managed to catch her.

She breathed on his neck, her small frame curled in his arms. He counted those breaths, leaning back on the wall. And soon, he was fast asleep, just like her.

 

There was a weight on his legs.

Something pressed against his chest. His sleep fuddled mind registered confusion before he remembered her piercing screams the other night, and everything tumbled back into place.

Jode awoke. The room he was in was familiar. It was the room where they held most of their language sessions. It was her room.

Kaiko laid there, curled tightly up against him. Her hair, long after it was combed out, made his arm itch, but he resisted the urge to scratch it.

The way her face looked reminded Jode of the day he had first seen her, one of the rare times when she looked so peaceful. Except the occasions when old ghosts shadowed her mind and haunted her thoughts. Then, the nightmare would show on her face.

He caused her to awake when he shifted his position. Those aquamarine eyes were turned up to him now.

She rolled off of him and he felt blood rush to his legs, giving him the strange sensation that, he thought, was inaccurately called pins and needles.

He tried to quietly get off the bed, and winced at each and every inevitable groan that was made. Without exception, all the floorboards creaked under him— protesting at his weight or laughing at his attempt, he wasn't sure. Eventually, she was looking back at him when he checked to see if he had woken her again.

"Jode," she said, her voice hoarse. "I think you hit my head last night."

"Sorry. You alright?" Kaiko shook her head.

"Bad dreams, but they stopped after you knocked me out." she beamed at him. He made a sound in reply, something halfway between a chuckle and a snort.

"Well then, I suppose I am glad to be of service." Jode took a few more creaking steps.

"Wait," she was still looking his way when he turned. "where are you going?" somehow, the look of her always seemed to squash any of his pressing problems. She helped put his life into proportion, he supposed.

"I've got a job to do. The boat's landing at the Netherlands soon, you should know."

"The Netherlands? Is that..."

"Yes, it is." he had always known that it needed to happen. But confronting the loss of her always seemed to take more courage than he had. "We really ought to drop you off there. Your mother would have some family, and everything will turn out right."

"You seem troubled, Jode." the concern escaped her voice and built up a wall, stopping him from reaching the door.

"Well, it isn't much. Just that immigration policy that they have. I don't claim to know it that well, but they would probably need some kind of proof." he paused, taking a breath. "The name of your mother, her family, something. Anything that would help."

"Can't they tell that I'm Dutch?"

"Probably, but it wouldn't count as evidence. It would be better to have something written down. Something indisputable." Jode saw that he was scaring her and tried to speak softer. "Do you have anything, back at the island? Just maybe some papers or—"

"No! No! I'm sorry." she seemed close to breaking off into sobs and he felt guilt tug at him. "I can't go back there, Jode. I can't."

Jode resisted the urge to cry himself, making his way over to her again. "Hush, Kaiko." he whispered, gently as he could. Pushing all the comfort he had into the words. "I will be here for you, always. We don't have to go back. Hush."

And, as he spoke the words, he saw that he meant them. That he really would go with her, wherever she went, if she let him. He wouldn't leave her. He held her hand, kneeling beside her bed, looking into her eyes. Jode whispered his promise to her. Something had changed, but he wasn't sure if it was how he felt or what he was.

She nodded, gaining a steely look, determined. That was how he knew she would remember, and hold him to his word.

"Domo arigato gozimasu," Kaiko said. He remembered from their many sessions that it meant that she was extremely grateful. She stood and bowed. Jode did the same. Though unsure he was, he felt that he needed to.

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