An arrow shot through the trees, and plunged into a nearby bush. I heard him disappointingly tut.
“Try again. But this time, look through the bow. Not at it!” he scowled. I lowered the bow and arrow and glared at him saying 'I'm trying.' I know he's only trying to help, but I can't help but think he's becoming one of those teachers you wish that you could yell at. The forest was very private, so I could practice without getting embarrassed if someone was watching. Except Erik of course, but he was allowed to watch, well he had to. How else could he teach me?
He's been teaching me how to use a bow and arrow for a two weeks now, but I still haven't grasped even the basics. Except how to hold it, I can do that at least. But I had to admit, not being at all modest, that I was pretty good at the sword. I was a natural in fact. Actually, that's pushing it a little too far. My hands are sweating from the heat and pressure I was put under. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't seem to hit the target. My target was actually pretty easy, it was the trunk of a tree which was several metres away. It didn't help when Erik could hit the target without barely attention, it just annoyed me. And he knew it did, but I think he enjoys teasing me on occasion.
I retrieved an arrow from the quiver on my back, and placed it in, knowing what to do. I brought the bow back up. Bending my back arm as much as I could, and extending the front arm just as equally. Straining both of my arm's muscles. My fingers started the fumble slightly with holding the arrow back correctly. I stared through the gap between the bow and the arrow, trying to see through the bow. But I just couldn't seem to understand what he was trying to say. I released the arrow in frustration, and no surprise. The arrow darted through the canopy, out of my sight, nowhere near the tree target. Erik sighed, knowing I'd given up.
He came closer, he'd placed himself a good few metres to my left, so he wouldn't get shot if I accidentally got distracted. But knowing me, I would of ended up shooting him by accident. I actually somehow shot behind me, since then. He hasn't stood behind me, don't blame him really.
“I think we can call it a day,” he kicked through the wild plants as he walked over. Not a beat in his step like there normally was. That just made me feel a bit more low. I could see the frustration in his eyes, that I haven't even hit a target once since we began. But it wasn't cause he was the teacher, it was because I was the student.
“Sorry,” I say quickly. He exhales, and he gathers up his bag from the ground. I give him back the bow and quiver of arrows, and cursed them under my breath as he grasps them.
“It's fine, it isn't your fault anyway. Some people can grasp some skills easily, and not grasp others at all.” He combed his fingers through his hair, brushing it back. The heat had gotten to him too, beads of sweat slipped down the side of his face. And leapt off his chin after running the length of his face. I hang my head low, annoyed and disappointed with myself. I couldn't even hit it once, what is it with me and that bow and those arrows. It's like they disagree with me, it's irritating.
“We going home tonight?” I ask him. He takes a moment to think, and looks up to late afternoon sky while he does. Me and Erik have been friends for years now, since I was eleven and he was fourteen. We both suffered the same fate, a few years later. We're both orphans. But his fate is much worst, he's the second eldest of five children. He has to provide for other mouths, not just himself. He's the only one of them who can hunt. None of me and my three siblings can hunt, which is not good. Cause what income my brother and sisters get, goes to the rent. Which both our families live in, we made a truce. Erik's family provide the food, mine provide for the money for the rent. And we all live under the same roof, peacefully.
Erik hunts for meat, his four sisters forage in the nearby fields and forests. His sister's names, from oldest to youngest are: Stephanie, Joe (short for Joanne), Ellie and Lauren. Stephanie is twenty-five, Joe is twelve, Ellie and Lauren are twins, they're seven. My siblings all work in various jobs. My brother, Alistair (second youngest, I'm the youngest) works at the mines, he's twenty-one. My sister, Hazel (second eldest) works at the school, she's twenty-three. My other sister, Christina (eldest) works in the bakery, she's twenty-four. And as for me, I can't get a job, there aren't any going, and I don't have any qualifications at all. I flunked school, probably cause I didn't go to the exams. So I left school, no proof that I actually have a brain cell.
“I guess we have to, considering it is Sunday.” Oh yeah. Sunday is the one day that we all have to be at home for our evening meal. The one time me and Erik did miss it, Stephanie went rage on us. She's in charge of meals, and she doesn't like her efforts going to waste. We haven't missed a Sunday since that day, she made it very clear not to miss it again. Some nights, me and Erik sleep under the night sky. In a secluded part of the forest, with large pond. Where in the summers we used to go swimming with our families when it was hot enough. Sometimes me and Erik went on our own, just for some fun. The water wasn't dirty or contagious, it was pretty clean for natural water in this part of the country.
We got back to house eventually, the one story thatched house was quite low in rent. But with the economy, it takes three jobs to just skim over the price of rent and tax. Since 2013, the economy has gotten worst, year by year. (Everyone knows that, cause of a certain part of British history.) Well that was 150 years ago, but still. The economy hasn't recovered. Unless we have and the Government is just being greedy, like usual. But it's been a lot worst since the royal family suddenly disappeared. No-one knows what happened to them, and people who mention them will be punished severely by the Government. I reckon they had something to do with it. Unless they can't bare the pain of hearing about them, and doesn't want people to talk about it. That theory just sounds like bullshit.
Erik slammed his fist against the wooden door, wanting to get in quickly. The temperature was dropping quite rapidly, usual for October. I rub my hands up and down my upper arms, trying to retain little heat there was to contain. The night sky had drawn in like a blanket, turning it's back on the sun's rays. It's amazing how it can get from sweating hot to shivering cold within ten minutes. My breath was visible, like Dragon's smoke amongst the once fiery orange sky. My feet shuffled and hopped on the spot, keeping the circulation still going to my toes. Finally the door opened,
“You're late.” Stephanie scowled. Almost giving us a glare, she stood in the doorway, her hands on her hips waiting for an answer. I couldn't come up with anything.
“At least we didn't miss it,” he pointed out. Making his way pass his sister into the cramped house. But one good thing about living in a cramped, cosy home, it's warmer in the cold nights.
“Erik!” the twins shouted with excitement, he hung up his bag and just before he was attacked. The seven-year old twins, non-identical, swung their arms around him. And he lifted the pair of them in the air, them giggling the whole time. After a few minutes of this Stephanie broke up the party,
“Alright, alright. Can we settle down please?” she asked rhetorically. I hung my belt with my sword in it up next to Erik's bow and quiver of arrows. And followed him to the table.
Erik rolled his eyes, we both hated Sundays, he hated them more though. Stephanie won't let us eat meat, so they always argue when Erik doesn't hunt. But lately she's gotten over it, so we just have greenery, berries and vegetables on Sundays. He sat at the table for the nine of us, we don't have allocated seats. We just sit where-ever we feel like it, but obviously, cause we were late. We were dump in the seats closest to the broken wind, breathing in a cold vague wind. It chilled down my spine, and nested in my chest. Making me shiver, attempting to warm up.
Dinner was the usual, blackberry soup, with salad which consisted of lettuce and rocket leaves. And an apple eat for desert, which I wasn't expecting. Me and Erik talked amongst ourselves while the 'adults' talked about work and what happened. While the twins played with their food, which must have been missed by the adults eyes. And as for Joe she just sat there, eating, not talking to anyone. Just looking sorry for herself. When everyone was excused from the table, me and Erik scurried to our bedroom. Me and Erik had our own room, while everyone else shared a much bigger room.
Our room was quite small, all that sat in there was two beds, a chest of drawers at each of them. And a candle on top of my drawers. I threw myself on my bed, and burrowed my head into the tattered pillow. Erik's bed just a metre away from mine, parallel. He sat on his, and stared blankly out of the window between our beds. The dark studded sky spread like an ink stain on a shirt, slowly, taking it's time. My arm reached to the bottom of my bed, and haled the covers over my shoulders. I wasn't much for talking tonight like I usually am, Erik saw that. And made camp under his covers, but looked in my direction, keeping an eye on me. He's always protected me, like I was another of his sisters. But unlike them, he spent all his time with me, we're very close friends.
I closed my eyes, no longer aware if he was watching me or not. I didn't want to delay into getting to sleep, but I did. I couldn't get comfortable, no matter what position I laid in. But then I tried the last trick up my sleeve. I hummed my Mother's song to myself, she sang it to me. Until I fall asleep, and no matter who sang it, I always fall asleep. The melody was beautiful and elegant, like my Mother.