Where the Tide Takes Us

Entry for the heroine-writing competition.


4. 2a


   I woke up gasping again, with the taste of saltwater in my mouth. It took me a few seconds to get my bearings, and when I did the first thing I saw was Tomo sat beside my bed.


   "Ten hours thirty three minutes," she muttered, writing it down. She proceeded to grill me about what being asleep felt like (nothing, I was asleep), and whether I had dreamed. I told her I thought I had, but couldn't remember specifics; I wished.


   Eventually she ran out of questions and went to get breakfast. She made porridge in the microwave and threw some of the crunchy air-puffed snacks on top. Even as an amnesiac I was almost sure that wasn't traditional, but she ate it happily enough. She looked rather less threatening than yesterday eating porridge with a yellow plastic spoon and messed up hair.


   When she wasn't looking I took one of the cracker snacks and put it on my tongue; it fizzed in a nice way but I couldn't actually taste it. That made me sad, that I might not remember any taste except briny seawater. Then I accidentally inhaled the snack and had a coughing fit until Tomo gave me a glass of water and explained that whilst it was okay to drink some water to keep my joints lubricated eating things would just clog things up.


   I looked up at the chink of blue through the leaves at the top of the window, and asked, "Can I go outside today?"


   "No," she answered sharply, almost before I'd finished speaking.


   After, we went back into the workshop (why did she keep it so dark? It was much nicer in the kitchen) and I stood around awkwardly for a while until Tomo asked if I wanted to read a book or something.


   I picked one up about cetaceans that looked relatively unread, but after a while Tomo's unwavering attention, that at first reassured me that she found me too interesting to take apart and use to build something else after all, started to get annoying; I felt naked under her scrutiny, and also because I had no clothes on. I tried to read but it was hard to concentrate with her scribbling something down every time I scratched my neck or bounced my knee.


   Eventually I gave up, and interrupted the silence. "Hey Tomo, this is really interesting, do you think you could find me any more books like it anywhere? And maybe something to wear, I think your clothes would be too small."


   She scribbled one last thing and jumped to her feet, "Yes, of course, I'll see what I can do!" She looked down at the book I was holding out, "I should probably take this back to the library too, I don't even remember getting it out."


   She pulled on the all-over coat from her drawer and then paused, "Do you want clothes because you're cold? Or is it manners programmed in? Do you feel uncomfortable being naked?"


   "No, I don't think so, and not particularly," I replied, "I'd just prefer it. It's sort of weird looking down and being all mismatched, you know."


   I berated myself inwardly as this comment looked set to spark a new interrogation but then she looked down at the several 'slightly overdue' library books in her hands and promised, "I'll be right back."


   She punched in the code which I didn't catch and the door slammed behind her. I sighed in relief and leant back, enjoying the aloneness. Finishing up yesterday's interrupted exploration, I tried the last door, but it was predictably locked. Then I went back into the left back room, the empty one next to the kitchen, and opened the unlocked window. If I leant out as far at I could for the thick ivy and bars, I thought I could feel a slight breeze.




   I made the decision almost as soon as I had the idea. If Tomoko didn't like it, I thought with a surge of courage, then she could just realise she was the one who decided to build me and deal with it.


   I pulled one of the metal bunk bed frames out from under the boxes around the edge of the workroom. The tricky bit in getting it to the empty room wasn't the weight but the ungainliness; I managed to get it around the worktables without knocking anything off but then it wouldn't fit through the door. I decided it was too much trouble to take it apart and put it together again so I grabbed Tomo's beefiest-looking saw and hacked off the top bunk, wishing I had clothes as I had to pat out the occasional spark. It fit perfectly through the door then and I decided to put it under the nearest, most easterly-facing window.


   Next I unrolled one of the mattresses onto the frame, coughing at the cloud of dust, and found bedding for it, then brought in my battery. Finally I grabbed one of the less oily rags from the bench and gave the windowsills and glass a wipe. I thought it was all looking very neat and was stood back satisfied when I heard Tomo come back in.




Author's note:

And this is where I've run out of both mobile data and time :P

Even though I'm sunburned I've had a good time planning and writing the start of this story and I'm going to do my best to continue it! So if you liked it please do check back when the 'And I Darken' competition is done. Thank you for reading!


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