Chapter Five

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'You've been dried,' I said to her, when she whined as I changed sides, combing through the wet strands with my fingers before using the sheet again. 'This time it's my turn.'

The dog grumbled, lying on her belly with an indignant huff. Lucky gave a happy sounding murrip and jumped down from the stool she'd been perched on observing us all, to curl up on Audi's back. I watched them with a smile. A sharp rap on the door then Henja's voice made me drop the sheet and with Kassie, hurry to the door.

'Here is your supper girls',' Henja offered a heavy tray laden with food; four steaming bowls, a pile of thickly buttered grainy bread and a large jug of water with a stack of thick blown glasses beside it. I took the large tray from Henja and she thanked me, then questioned, 'Now, what would be best for your animals?'

While Kassie placed our orders, I carefully maneuvered my way to the small table in Sian and Loi's room and placed the tray on it.

Loi and Sian sat on the bed and Kass and I on short three legged stools. The bowls contained a delicious stew. The meat dissolved on the tongue and the vegetables in the thick rich gravy made the perfect topping for the bread, melting the butter a hint. After wiping the bowl clean with another piece of bread I sat back, resting against the bed and sipped a glass of water. It seemed easier to ignore the anxious thoughts now my stomach was sated. No one spoke, just rested, the heat from the stove making the room felt almost heavy. Pushing past the urge to doze off right there, I stood making Kass jolt.

'Sorry, Kass,' I yawned. 'I'm off to bed now. Night all, sleep well.'

Wandering back to the bed in the adjoining room, I ditched my clothes for a borrowed nightshirt Henja had provided, then crawled under the covers and fell promptly into a deep and dreamless sleep.

*****

THE SUNLIGHT WOKE me, my eyes fluttering open when the rays of light began to descend down the bed. I stared at the wall, then rolled onto my back and stared at the ceiling.

A different planet.

Weird.

Part of my mind wanted to deny it all, pretend I'd imagined it. The foreign room however, made it starkly real. Again I waited for myself to panic. My heart did beat faster at the realization, stomach roiling for a minute or two, but my practical side kicked in again. I could picture my mum and dad at home in their kitchen.

'Can't change it, Katy,' dad would say with an open handed gesture, mum nodding in agreement.

'Focus on the immediate,' she'd advise.

I'd moved out of home at twenty, Sian and I flatting together, later joined by Kass when she arrived on her working visa after attending university in America—celebrating a couple of years later when she got her residency. Right at the moment it felt, reasonably I guess, light years away. And I had such a longing for my old bedroom at home, actual home, with mum and dad. Tears welled at the thought of never seeing them again and ran down my cheeks while I stared unblinking at the ceiling.

Really hope we can get home.

Carefully so as not to disturb Kassie I sat up, then groaned under my breath when all my muscles objected and looked around, staring through to the other room where I could see Sian fast asleep. Climbing out of bed I wriggled into my pants and top then sat on a stool to pull on my socks and boots, wincing when I turned my thigh out to lace the back of the boot. It seemed every single muscle hurt; even my eyes watered when I let out a mouth-splitting yawn. Audi shook herself awake, staggering off my cloak where she'd slept and bumbled over to give me a big lick.

Giggling, I grabbed the dog's head and ruffled the fur round her neck and ears. She grumbled and thrust a paw in my face, so I obliged and scratched the front of her chest. Lucky meowed softly at us and sauntered over.

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