Sa’s fever does not dissipate. So are the blisters now swollen with pus. I use warm compresses so that I could drain the pus easily. All the while, Sa does not speak. All the while, Sa watches me with those bright angry-sea eyes.
I want to say sorry. I want to hug her. But my own anger is far too great and my fear too strong. The heat in the room burns – and both of us are mute.
At times, when I couldn’t take it any more, I take Heart out to the tiny balcony looking out into the street. The City is cold now, the air crisp. I take in a few lungfuls of air and hold Heart next to me. Sometimes, the stars spin above me and I love the night for what it is: peaceful. Far more kinder than the banked fire behind me, on the couch, and within me.
I hesitate to touch it. The fire. Will flames dance on my fingertips?
I savor the taste of the words slowly.
Dipping the cloth into cold water becomes rhythm. Squeezing the cloth, watching the water dribble back into the basin – and placing the folded cloth on Sa’s hot forehead.
“I need to find you a physician,” I find myself breaking the silence. My voice sounds like thunder. Sa’s eyes widen. “The fever is not going away. I think the wounds are infected.”
Sa nods and sags back as if even nodding has exhausted sar.
I am so sorry, I say silently, in my heart.
I go to fetch the physician who lives four doors away from us and he treats Sa immediately, giving her a quick antibiotic shot and clean the blisters with antiseptic. He waives the payment and leaves after giving me a slew of instructions on how to treat the wounds properly. His name is Ibal.
I should become his apprentice, learn about healing. I run after him and bids him to stop. Breathlessly, I makes my request. Ibal watches me with his dark eyes. They always twinkle with amusement.
“I need a good listening ear, gentle hands and patient heart,” Ibal says after considering my words. “Are you able to do that?”
“Yes,” I nod eagerly.
“Good. You start tomorrow. 9, at the sundial.”
“Can I bring my child along?” I ask and Ibal frowns delicately, his bushy eyebrows knitting together. “My adopted child.”
“Yes. My maid Suriah will look after her while you shadow me.”
I return to the room, only to find Sa sitting up, wincing.
“Guilty enough to apprentice yourself to the doctor?” Sa speaks, the words coated in glass shards.
“I think I might like healing,” I reply and refuse to be baited.
“Watch your fire,” Sa shrugs and grimaces, flexing her arm.
I scoop Heart up and walk out of the door.