Each Sauntering Step : Chapter 4 // Interlude

“Ashwin?”

Arun throws a sheet over Ashwin’s non-responsive body.

“Ashwin?”

Ashwin sputters. “Hu—

“Don’t stress it. I’m going back downstairs. Need anything?”

Ashwin’s eyes shut again. He starts to snore gently.

Arun shakes his head, switches the air conditioning on, and leaves the room.

Ashwin stirs.

The waves of her hair crash on her shoulders.

“I was twelve when my parents separated. They never really divorced. When I was thirteen, my mom died. At fifteen, my dad. It didn’t really make a difference to me, really; I had stayed with my grandma from age eleven till the day she died. I was sixteen then. I’ve been more or less alone ever since.”

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“Have you ever been the best at anything?”

“Clearly the best?”

“Simply the best?”

“Nothing but the best?”

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“I bet you just tick all the boxes, huh?”

“Pathetic.”

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Through bouts of tossing and turning, and the occasional gasp, Ashwin drifts into sleep.