If I hadn't been gone those extra days, I'd be dead too. Some nights I lie awake turning that thought around in my head until my mind goes blank.
It was the spring I was sixteen – my parents had let me stay at the next village over, while they traveled back home. They almost made Jessh stay with me. I remember him laughing and clapping his hands on my shoulders.
“Taalla can take care of herself! She can almost take me down!” I moved as if to elbow him, and he caught me in a bear hug. “I said almost!” He kept one arm around me and tousled my hair before laughing again and letting me go.
I knew he just wanted to get back home to check on his horse. She was soon to give birth, and he didn't like being away. Still, I appreciated his support. He was right too – I wasn't half bad with my knife, and I was a better shot than him with my bow.
“I'll be careful! It's only for a few days!”
Finally they agreed to let me stay – so long as I stayed at the inn, and wasn't out too late, and started home no later than early afternoon of the third day. My mother rambled instructions while my father nodded in agreement every time she paused. It would be a two day walk back, but they left me our dogs Triff and Trinn so I wouldn't be alone.
All I had wanted to do was stay the extra days of the festival... The village of Rain's Pass was more than twice the size of ours, with a market square that was teaming with life. It was exciting and colorful... I remember having a good time. It feels a bit traitorous, but I still think of those last few days fondly. One last bright spark before the dark...