Chapter 2: New Residents│Read translated stories and daily updates at: Awebstories.com
“Nathan? What brings you here so early in the morning? How did you find us?”
“Serio, I need your help. Ethan, my son, is dying.”
Father, who had been dealing with the door through the narrow opening, finally opened it wide and looked at Nathan. Nathan’s wife was standing behind him, holding a limp child. A scrawny camel stood by.
I watched from the shadows.
“…Come inside for the time being.”
Father welcomed them inside, placed the child on a couch, and filled a copper cup with water before placing it in the child’s mouth. Ethan’s lips appeared to be cracked and skinless; his dark brown hair filthy; and his green eyes lifeless.
When Ethan’s upper body was lifted and a glass of water was placed in front of his mouth, he opened his eyes, grabbed the glass with both hands, and gulped it down all at once.
“I’ll make some milk porridge.”
My mother Hilda stood in the kitchen corner, heating the camel’s milk that had been squeezed that morning, then adding boiled oats and stirring it in. A little salt and honey were added and served in bowls.
Nathan’s wife, Benita, spooned a spoonful of the milk porridge, blowing on it to cool it before bringing it to Ethan’s mouth, and he gulped it down and snatched the spoon from his mother’s hand and began to eat vigorously. When he was done, Ethan fell asleep.
“Thank you very much… We haven’t had much to eat or drink in days.”
“We did everything we could to feed Ethan, but we eventually ran out of food.”
My mother dashed to the kitchen after hearing this and prepared a hearty meal.
“It’s okay, Alesia—come on out.”
My father summoned me from behind the pantry, where I had been trained to hide when visitors arrived.
“Hello, you must be Alesia. I’m Nathan, and I was your neighbor when you were born—Ethan, the sleeping boy, is two years your junior, and Benita is Ethan’s oka-san (mother).”
This is the first time I’ve seen anyone other than my parents at home, and I’m at a loss for words. I was perplexed and hid behind my father.
“In this situation, Alesia, you must say “hello”.
Benita-san smiled at me and I hid behind my father again.
“Nathan, Benita, eat first. Then you can explain why you’re here.”
At first, Nathan and Benita ate with some reluctance, but then began to eat with gusto. My mother served milk porridge to the adults, as well as chicken meat and wheat dumplings stewed tender in a broth and milk tea with honey.
I sat in the corner of the room, listening to the adults’ conversations while holding my mother’s handmade dolls.
“… Actually, I saw you at the market a while ago. You seemed to be in good health, and the vegetables you had with you were great. You know, I was curious and wanted to know where you lived, so I followed you. Sorry about that. Actually, the well in the area where we used to live has been dry for some time.
“You were reckless to come all this way with a weak child. And only one well is running dry?
“Yes. There is no longer any water for crops in that area, and no drinking water is available. Poor people who become ill as a result of contaminated water are unable to see a doctor, so the number of sick children and elderly people is growing. However, the other districts refused to accept us.”
“Dear lord…” My mother sadly placed her fingertips to her mouth and said,
“There is no longer enough water in that area, so even the crops are not growing properly. Your vegetables and fruits, on the other hand, are fresh and crisp. Serio, do you have a secret well? There are lush vegetables and fruit trees growing all around this house, but there is no spring water—that must imply a hidden well, right?”
“There is no such thing as a hidden well. You will be beheaded if you conceal the fact that you have a well. Remember, we have Alesia? I would never do something so heinous.”
“Then how do you grow crops and fruit trees?”
He exhaled heavily.
The long-awaited day had finally arrived.
Because he was afraid of this happening, my father relocated to a remote area of the desert.
(If I had known about the water shortage earlier, I would have been able to conceal it—trying to avoid people as much as possible backfired.)
Father appears to be regretting it greatly at this time.
“Dear, why don’t you let Nathan-san and the others stay here?”
“If we believe we are the only ones who are happy, we will incur God’s wrath.”
My mother had become more religious since she began raising me.
My father told Nathan and his wife, who were staring at them with bated breath, only part of the truth.
“Do you want to live here and build a house? I’m not sure if you believe me when I say there are no springs or wells here. It’s just that it rains every night in this area.”
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