We found berries and a dead deer to feast on. When we get back, I sit by the fire while Benin prepares the food. He brings it over and sits on the other side of the fire. We eat in silence. I jog all the memories I've had in the past two days with him. It's been the best two days of my life. Nothing could possibly stop me from having this much fun. I hear Benin,
"Tatum, do you trust me?"
I think. He's protected me this whole time, fed me, made sure I had a place to sleep, comforted me,
"I guess so."
"Tell me more."
"I trust you to protect me and take care of me but, I can't tell anyone what I've witnessed the past fifteen years."
"I don't want you to leave, Tatum. Why don't you stay here, with me?"
He cups my hand, I loosen the grasp,
"Benin, I don't think you want me to stay."
"But, I do."
"You don't know me."
"I don't care if I know your past. I know what you're like, I know who you are."
"Please, please, Tatum."
"I'll think about it."
We stay up for another hour or two in silence. I finally hit the hay.
I wake up the next morning, hearing the cries of an infant. I look around, nervously, then, I realize it's just the wind hitting the leaves. I crawl out of the tree stand,
"Good morning. I figured we could go into town today, get some things."
I nod and we set off. We walk to the bus bench where we first met. I stare and see the memory, happening again, over and over. I sit down and grasp my emotions to show that I'll try to forget that day. He sits next to me and grabs my hand. He kisses it and helps me to my feet.
We arrive in the city. Benin looks at me and walks to a man selling bread on the street. I walk on the opposite side of the street and hear the cries of an infant. I turn my head and see him, the monster. Then, the criminal, the nightmare, him. I duck behind a cart and hear them talking,
"Just get the food and go. We need to get back to the house."
"What about the baby food?"
"We don't need any."
They walk away and I grab my heart, hearing it pound. Benin comes and swoops me off my feet, running with the food. I can't breathe, run,walk, speak. Just seeing the evil faces, the monsters, the-the-I don't know what to call them.
We get back to the woods and Benin sets me down,
"What's wrong? Usually, you'd run for miles."
I couldn't speak. I was too frighten, like, I was in a shock,
"Tatum, you're okay, breathe."
He holds me and I feel a calmness come over me,
"I saw them. My brother and father. They were in the market. They had the baby, leaving it hungry."
"Tatum, you're far away from them. I won't let them take you. You're safe here, with me."
He leans in but I stand up, thinking of ideas,
"I have to get her."
"I have to get my baby sister. I promised her I would never leave her there, with them. I need to go get her."
"Are you crazy? Tatum, you could get hurt. Maybe, even killed."
"I'll do anything to save my sister."
He groans and puts his face in his palms,
"If you go, you have to promise that you'll stay, here, with me."
"No! I have done so much for you. I have fallen for you, I've tried to earn your trust. You earned mine, just so you can use it for what you need, then, leave."
"Benin, it's not like that!"
"Isn't it, though? Tatum,"
He grabs my hands,
"Tell me you won't leave. I love you."
"Love is a strong word, Benin."
"That's why I used it. Are you leaving me or are you coming back?"
He picks me up and whirls me around, pecking my face with his kisses. He puts me down,
"Now, we need a plan."