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An Aversion

Page 6

‘I’m Izel.’

‘J-a-c-k,’ his voice is raspy. He manages to swallow more of the mixture. Over a fire she has been roasting meat. Jack tastes bile. He has forgotten that he hasn’t eaten for some time. His belly is swollen. 

‘I hunt for food,’ Izel says. ‘My family, in mountains. Half day journey.’ From a stick she offers him pieces of meat. ‘It’s good.’

Jack shoves some into his mouth. It’s difficult to chew and a piece gets stuck in his throat. He coughs, and she offers him more water.

Izel sits quietly watching him. ‘Why you in rainforest by yourself? How you hurt hand?’

It’s strange to talk again. He swallows. ‘Came by boat. Big explosion… my guide’s dead…  Here to find white man… lives with tribe. You know?’

‘Si. Some say he is good spirit, but far away. You pay trackers in village?’

Jack nods. ‘Will you help me?’

Izel doesn’t answer. She picks up Jack’s knife that had fallen out of his pocket and examines it intently, extending and retracting the blade. ‘I help you for knife?’

Jack raises his eyebrows. ‘How about this?’ He taps his watch. ‘It’s valuable!’

‘That too.’

Even though he has an aversion to knives, this one is special. It belonged to his brother. Carl had taken it camping and on his tours of duty. Jack doesn’t want to give it up, but he doesn’t want to die here alone, either. ‘Okay,’ he sighs. He holds out his wrist.

Izel removes his watch and fastens it on her own wrist. It slides around. She holds-up Carl’s knife, ‘Good for hunting.’

Jack notices a machete by the embers. The blade is black. ‘Why is the metal dark?’

Izel picks up the weapon and inserts it into a woven sheath with a strap. She slings it over her shoulder. ‘It’s ironwood, from tree. Dried out, hard. Very strong.’

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Page 6

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