Sally, Part 38
A couple of pans strapped to Stacey's pack clanged together as he jogged a bit to catch up. He took a quick moment to look back at Andrill and realized that he'd never been this far inland. He already missed the breaking of the waves, the clang of the bells and the call of the gulls. Where he was now seemed too quiet. Was there ever a sound out here?
Because of his days at sea, he had a hard time appreciating the beauty that people talked about here in the plains outside of Andrill. Everything seemed the same pallet of green, and the ground never changed. Stacey always believed that the sea had its own spirit and temperament, which is why it was calm sometimes and raged at others. This land seemed soulless. It didn't seem to care who was walking across it, or what was done around it. It made Stacey feel alone. He thought he would at least have one friend on this journey: the land, but without a soul, it was no companion, and he was left with two slavers on his own.
The three men passed by sheep herders and the occasional cherry tree, each one looking alone in a vast plane of grass. These were planted by the herders at strategic points along their normal paths, so that they would always have a back up supply of food if ever they ran low. They were also good places to hide from wolves and gave them a better view if they were ever in trouble and needed to find a friend nearby. Most were well off the road, and Stacey just happened to notice them in the distance. The last one they saw before the tree line that signaled their assent into the mountains was just on the right side of the road. Stacey could smell the cherries as they approached and decided it was the best thing he'd smelled in days. Of course, those days were spent in the lingering stench of Andrill, so saying it was the best really wasn't saying much, but the smell was welcoming and made him feel better about being alone with the other two.
Syrin and Mattias both slipped off their packs, took out empty sacks, and began filling them with low hanging cherries. Stacey gladly followed suit. Syrin was quick to give up on the lower cherries and climb up to find more. Mattias was closely examining a cherry when he spoke, "Out here's not the same as the ocean is it?"
The way he said it made Stacey unsure if he was being talked to, "No, not really."
"Makes you feel like you've lost a friend, doesn't it?"
Stacey stopped picking. As usual, he was amazed at how well Mattias knew him. It really was hard not to like him, "It does." The words were soft, and hard to say. He never knew how close he'd felt to water until Mattias asked him that.
"We'll try to get you back to her quickly. I promise."