Alight spring breeze ruffled the curtains covering the window to his right, allowing streaks of the morning light to dance on his face. It’s warmth spread to the corners of his face and, he caught himself enjoying the feeling. It was like a warm caress of a woman, inviting relaxation and comfort. Panic flooded his senses a few moments after realization took hold. Dread replaced the comfort felt moments before. Something was wrong. He knew it. His eyes snapped open, quickly taking inventory of his surroundings.

“Shit.” He commented, throwing the hand-woven blanket off his body. It landed in a crumpled heap on the wooden tiled floor across the room, under a second window that was blocking the suns morning call. Thuds of heavy footfalls could be heard from below as the young man pushed himself off his bed. With urgency, the man threw the curtain of the window to the right open. He was met with a breathtaking sight. Rolling hills for as far as the eyes could see, sprinkled with aging trees that produced enough shade on the most intense summer days to allow for comfort. Below the man’s window predictable sounds of a new morning could be heard. Glancing down, the man saw the family rooster. It seemed to staring up at him with intent. It called the mornings arrival.

“Shit. shit.” The man exclaimed, running a hand through his golden hair anxiously. With purpose the man dashed to the other window, almost tripping over the crumpled bed cover. He threw that curtain open. His eyes bulged and, he shook his head in disbelief. “Shit. Shit. Shit!” He paused, trying to swallow the fear boiling inside him. “Damn it!”

The man turned around, looking toward the hand carved wooden dresser that sat to the left of his bed. It waited. Then, he glanced at the pile of soiled clothing, the top-most were the clothes he had worn yesterday. With a frustrated sigh, the man hurriedly pulled on yesterday’s clothing.  The intricate carvings on the dresser seemed to disapprove.

“There’s no time.” The man commented as if validating his choice to dress in soiled clothes to dresser. The man flew out his bedroom as he bounced on one leg and the other, pulling on his shoes. He rushed down the stairs of the small house he shared with his sister, leaping passed the last four stairs, landing with a resounding thud.

He heard a familiar giggle as he turned the corner of the hallway, toward the outside door. He skidded to a stop, inches before tumbling into his elder sister.  Her arms were folded across her chest and a humored grin played on her face.

“Late?” She asked.

“What do you think?” The man grumbled impatiently.

“I think you sound like a herd of wild beasts running around like that.” Her violet eyes held his mischievously, and she grinned. The man’s sky-blue eyes rolled in frustration. His sister was clearly blocking the way because she knew he was in a hurry.

“I don’t have time for this Kat!” He exclaimed.

“He will not be happy.” She mused, paying him no mind.

“I know. Why do you think I’m…” The man paused, flustered. “For heavens’ sake, I need to go”. Without waiting for a response from his sister, he pushed past her.

Kat let herself be pushed to the side, with a knowing smile on her face. She smoothed her simple blue dress out with her palms, watching her brother rush towards the door. Light flooded the small hallway as the man opened the door and proceeded to exit. “Forgetting something Jake?” Kat called melodically.

He knew that tone. She knew something he didn’t. He could feel the morning heat on his shoulders as he faced her, knowing he had forgotten something. In the mornings rush couldn’t place what he had forgotten. As he turned, he hurried through a mental checklist of needed items. In the moments it took him to review the list, his attention was not on his surroundings. Learned and practice instinct was the only thing that saved him. With his dominant hand he reached out and snatched the wooden staff from the air with grace and precision. In the doorway there was no room to preform a flourish with the weapon. It came to a natural vertical rest with a light tap as one end connected softly with the wooden floor, safely in his control.  It took a few moments for his actions to register. His gazed shifted from his grinning sister to the weapon in hand.

“Oh.” He paused. “Thanks.” Without further word the man rushed out door to greet the day.

Kat turned and walked back into the kitchen where her breakfast was waiting. “That boy…”