Arc saw that Feyn had changed. Its leaves had turned into dark stiff ones, instead of the tender light ones. The stems had thickened and the plant had withdrawn from inside the house. But what alarmed Arc the most was that all the flowers had fallen off, and its place, he saw that short thick thorns were beginning to grow. Arc did not know what to do. For a few days, he tried to converse with it, as he had done before, but Feyn yielded no responses.
When he saw that the plant’s thick stem was causing cracks in the wall, Arc had to take a painful decision. He pried Feyn’s shoot from the wall and moved the plant away from the house. That night, he found the lack of company disconcerting. In his sudden bout of loneliness, he decided to go into town and spend some time with other people. But he was disappointed to find that he could not connect with anyone else. All his conversations had been short and hollow. He found himself running from people. He began to think that he was, in fact, better suited for isolation.
Once, while sitting at home and brooding over his situation, he noticed something surprising. He rushed out to confirm that it was no illusion. Deep inside the tangles of the branches and thorns, Feyn had bloomed a single flower. In a rash moment’s decision, he reached out to touch it. He pulled his hand out in sudden pain and saw that his thumb, stung by Feyn’s thorns, had begun to bleed. Sucking on the bleeding finger, he trudged back into the house, extremely depressed. He decided he needed a break. Arc decided to set off into the deserts of the East.
The journey was not an easy one. But it helped Arc distract himself.
Arc had packed a set of his old wooden clothes, and some other essentials. He had heard how cold deserts could get at nights. As an afterthought, he had also taken a small satchel of kanab leaves along. When he finally arrived at his destination, Arc had little difficulty in finding lodgings. Later, standing at the doorstep of a house in an isolated area away from the small village, he gazed out into the horizon and saw that a sandstorm was approaching. He was going to have to confine himself to the indoors for however long the storm would decide to stay.
After checking that all the windows were securely shut, Arc settled in for a quiet evening. He lit a fire and slowly stroked the coals as he stared into the fire and thought. When he lived up in the mountains, he had never imagined feeling so alone even when he was surrounded by people. He had never imagined that he would trek into the far beyond in a journey of self-imposed solitude. He almost laughed at his own plight. Looking around, he saw that the one-room hut was sparsely furnished. There was a pile of old clothes in one corner and a pile of firewood in another. And the fireplace that he was already using.
Arc laid back in the only chair and closed his eyes. They flew open again at a sudden whoosh outside the window. The storm had begun. Suddenly, he realized how alone he was. So absolutely alone.