Silence marked the long journey to the edge of town, interrupted only by the sound of Asher’s heavy breathing and an occasional unexplained snicker from Jordan. They took an alternate route to reach the Education Facility, to avoid the crowds entering the Meeting House, cutting across the housing developments along Artimas and Korimas Boulevard. Both roads received less traffic because of their proximity to the Great Forest. Asher, on the other hand, refused to allow a cluster of dark trees and a few fanciful tales to unsettle his nerves. He took Artimas and Korimas as often as he could. The quiet and extra distance gave him time to think.
The two teens passed an abandoned log cabin on their right, closest to the perimeter of the Great Forest. A strange smell emanated from the broken logs that fashioned the neglected abode. Asher’s mind raced through a dozen possibilities as he tried to place the sickly sweet aroma wafting in his direction.
“Dead animal,” Jordan coughed, shaking his head in disgust. Jordan turned from the foot path along Korimas and stood on the log cabin’s unkempt lawn. As his friend stood among the weeds and bushes of varying sizes, Asher was reminded of Jordan’s wild hair before the recent cut. It had been much like this plot of land, rejected and entirely ignored.
With a little trimming, Asher reasoned, this parcel of land could look as good as Jordan’s hair now did. Asher smiled. His friend remained standing knee deep in the grass, admiring the forsaken log cabin just beyond him.
Jordan suddenly spun around.
“Asher, my friend, we must continue,” Jordan said, stepping back onto the dirt path that was the Boulevard.
“Something the matter, Jordan?”
The older boy turned sharply to face his friend.
“Have you ever noticed that cabin before, Asher?”
“Tell me, have you?” Jordan was almost at his throat. Asher stepped back, confused by his friend’s sudden ferocity.
“No, I have not.” He leveled Jordan a curious gaze. “I rarely spend much time enjoying the nature around Korimas, simply because there is no nature to enjoy.”
Jordan stared at Asher and sighed.
“My friend, if only you had eyes to see.” He shook his head. “Hopefully, this trip will give you their eyes.” Jordan resumed his walk along the path, oblivious to Asher’s non-conformity.
“Whose eyes?” Asher asked, increasing his pace to a brisk walk to catch up with Jordan. He sucked in a huge breath, instantly regretting all the hours he spent daydreaming in his father’s field instead of training his body for physical activities.
“Whose eyes?” He repeated as he drew close to the boy in front of him. Jordan turned his head but didn’t change his pace as he answered.
“Why, the Wall Watcher’s eyes, of course.”