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"Ah," Elina smiled, "how long did it take you to dry off?" She noticed his change of expression and the slight pinkish glow creeping its way into his cheeks. He seemed nice, and anyone who could befriend a bear couldn't be boring. Feeling a rush of sympathy she did her best to ignore is gawkishness and keep the conversation on track. "I'm worried one of the guards is going to jump out and have me carted off for ruining the carpets." She pointed at the damp patch gathering around her feet as water dripped from her dress hem. "Maybe I should have hidden in the gardens too."

The penny finally dropped. He couldn't see, or, at least had poor enough eyesight to merit a guide. Elina glanced at the shy bear with a new appreciation. They were definitely not boring. And he had a lovely smile; she wondered if he knew. Did the blind worry about that sort of thing? One of the things she had learned about herself since she had regained consciousness on the beach was her innate vanity. She had taken time choosing with dress to steal, on considering how to do her hair and leaning over still water to check it all fitted together, showing off her curves and setting off her face. Was vanity the preserve of the seeing?

Elina accepted the piece of honey comb as the bear ambled forwards. It was sticky and the too-sweet smell was over-powering. It must have been irresistible for Ashkii with her more finely honed senses. If it was the bear didn't let the enticing scent spoil her manners. She took the comb gently from Elina's hand before crunching it up with obvious enthusiasm. When Ashkii had finished she came back to lick the honey lingering on Elina's finger tips. It tickled and she found herself laughing again. It felt good.

"It's nice to meet you both," she said standing up straight again and wiping her fingers on her wet dress. It was probably beyond hope anyway. "I'm afraid I don't know. I can't remember my name, I have no idea where I came from. I woke up on a beach a few days ago but I don't know anything from before that." Elina shrugged her shoulders, "I guess that's why I'm here dripping wet in this hallway with you. I hoped someone here might have answers."

"Tell me about where you came from? Did you like it there?"


photo by Ben Fredericson at flickr.com






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