ling-ling walked towards me and patted me on the head. two brief taps was what she offered me, followed by a tight smile. it was an awkward gesture from her as she was never one who was skilled in showing emotions. she hesitated for a moment and then rubbed by back, stroking it with all the gentleness she could muster as she tried to ease me of my burdens.
"the clouds are upon us again, child, and we need to be ready. be steadfast, boy. you have gotten weak lately and i sincerely do not know how to help you. whatever it is that is bothering you, you have to deal with it soon for, my bones are telling me, this next wave is going to be a big one and i cannot carry us all alone."
she spoke without looking at me while i sat and pondered on her words. we were of like-mind so we knew we understood each other. as i listened to her speak, i could not help but feel gratitude and love for her for ling-ling had taken over my role lately as i had been struggling to recuperate. she had taken it to herself to be the pillar of strength and reason in my incapacity, as best as she knew how. she had softened her usual uncompromising hold and learned to feel before she reasoned, a great feat coming from one whose stare can even melt the hardest stone. she had become tolerant of nata'sya and had even consented in some of her frivolous ways.
my jaw began to tremble, and my body began to shake, as my pent up emotions surged from their long repression. i felt a sudden choke and my eyes began to water.
natas'ya was resting by my feet, looking up towards me, inquisitively, wondering if the elder woman's efforts in comforting me were working. i recomposed myself and returned her gaze with a faint smile and she eventually turned away, satisfied by my response. i took a deep breath and exhaled, softly blowing out the contents of my soul, hoping in the process i feel some degree of relief, a brief freedom from the overpowering emptiness i feel within.
the cosmic winds blew against my face and i smelled a charged aroma in the air. a flashing of light called my attention to look far into the distant horizon. ling-ling and natas'ya we standing beside each other and were too looking at the same direction. towering plumes of thick clouds were billowing before us, an ominous creature of terrible might and proportion. the winds grew stronger, sounding with a rumbling against my ear. "it's here", the old woman coolly said. natas'ya shifted from her position and put her cold hand on my shoulder. "we need you now. please." she voice soft, her exotic accent now lost in impending storm.