Part 6:

I Told You I Would Find You

Tekole jerked awake. He wasn’t sure what had woken him. He thought back to the most recent dream he had, but it wasn’t that. That dream had been idyllic, whatever it was. Then a sharp sound hit him, a repetitive knocking breaking through the haze. He looked across his room, at the front door.

Tekole stood, rousing himself the rest of the way as he did so, and walked over to the entrance. He stopped before opening the door and looked down at his long white tunic, making sure it was buttoned upwards and downwards as much as possible. He didn’t want to expose any undue flesh to the city, because that was just the kind of stand-up guy he was.

Once suitably satisfied with the covering of any shame he opened the door, and jumped at seeing Kajulan there. “Heeeeeey,” she hissed, but in a kindly, playful sort of way. “I told you I would find you.”

Tekole looked around wildly. She had said that, but he had also kind of been in a daze at the time, so it hadn’t fully registered. “How’d you find me?” he asked.

“It wasn’t really hard,” answered Kajulan, shrugging. “I mean, we grew up in the same place, and you work at the factory that just so happened to open up right next to it. I figured you’d live in the adjacent apartment complex.”

“But how’d you know which room was mine?”

This question did cow Kajulan a little, and she looked down at her feet. “I just . . . went through the place, knocking on doors until you opened one.”

“We’re on the second floor.”

Kajulan threw her arms up. “I know! Look, that’s unimportant.” She pointed her finger at Tekole. “What’s important, is that, we find something to spend your hard earned money on!”

Kajulan crossed her arms, satisfied at the deflection, but the words passed right through Tekole, who had begun gazing up at the sky. “What time is it?” he asked, a hint of concern dripping from his voice.

“Late enough that the people whose doors I’ve been knocking on were only mildly pissed. Why?”

Tekole clasped his head with both hands. “I’m late!” he shouted. He looked behind himself. “I need to go get dressed.”

Tekole turned to leave, but Kajulan grabbed his shoulders. “Tekole,” she cooed. “Calm down. Everything’s going to be okay. Now look.” She let go of him. “Did we not steal more than a day’s worth of your wages?”

“We did.”

“And does your boss really care about you specifically, or are you just a body filling space?”

Tekole thought. “A body.”

“So, what’s the big deal with missing a day?”

Tekole paused for a moment, a symphony of thought and expression playing out on his otherwise stony face. Then he nodded. “Alright,” he said, just as easily convinced today as he had been the day before. “I’ll play hooky.”

Kajulan clasped her forehead. “Tekole! We are grown adults. You aren’t playing hooky.”

“What would you call it then?”

“I don’t know, but it’s not hooky. Now let’s go.” The two began to leave, but Kajulan stopped, looking Tekole over. “Actually,” she said. “Probably should still get dressed.”

Tekole looked down at himself. “Oh, right right.”

He took a step back, but before he went in all the way Kajulan peered around him, staring into his room. It was quite dark and quite empty, the only furnishings being a small bed in the corner, with a foot chest at its end and a stool beside it, ostensibly serving as a nightstand. “So this is where you live, huh?” she asked.

“Hey!” replied Tekole, shifting himself in the doorway to block her view. Kajulan put her hands up.

“Okay, okay! Just go get dressed. I’ll be waiting here.”

“It’ll just be a few minutes.”

Tekole stepped backwards and began to gingerly shut the door. Kajulan waved awkwardly at him, and Tekole did so in turn, before finally closing the door.