By the time the ripples had reached the other side of the pond, Hirsut was gone, lost among the trees. Erbak waited for him to peek out from behind a bush, but he never showed. Eventually, she too got up and left, heading home by way of the eucalyptus-leaf-strewn path until she reached the main road. By then snow had begun to fall and she hurried, feeling the chill. She wasn’t angry at him yet.
Hirsut was thinking a lot, and this hurt his mind almost as much as the bruise on his shoulder from last week’s tumble ached. He’d left his home many weeks before, setting out on what was supposed to be the adventure of a lifetime but was turning out to be a complication on top of a nuisance. He didn’t like this small town, or any of the other small towns he’d ventured through, but he was convinced his destiny lay in one of them. Could this be it? Could it be that scrawny, brainy girl after all, with her gap teeth and her thin brown hair and her mother who made noises all day like a hen?
Destiny’s a bitch, he thought, and then he muttered out loud, to no one in particular, “but I’ll be damned if it’s going to beat my ass.“