"Grey", she whispers, "I don't think you should do that."
Maybe it's the way she says it, the wariness of her tone, the subtle whine in her voice, but something about that sentence makes me want to squeeze her. Squeeze her until she pops like a balloon. I let the frustration wash over me, a thousand tiny raindrops that cascade between over my temples and in between the folds of my shirt, down my legs and out out out of me, through my toes. Then it's over.
That holy moment hangs between us, thick and suspenseful. An eternity. But even as the echo of her voice bounces off the walls of the cavern to my rest between my ears for a second time, I lift my head over my shoulder and throw her a half smile. The spell is broken. I've reassured her. She lets out the breath she had been holding.
"Go sit outside if you are afraid. I will come get you when I find it."
I lean back, daring her to follow. For a second she falters, frozen at the crux of pride and instinct, both such stubborn vices. Then, with a twist of her heel, she walks quickly back out to the mouth of the cave and sits, beginning to run her fingers over dark hair. She lifts her voice in a thin, reedy song, and the birds sing their harmonies and watch her from high above in their tall jungle trees. She's better off there, I think to myself.
I have work to do.