Golau knew there was a time before she lived in fear but that had faded to myth in her mind. Living in the mining caves of Kastanes was what she knew now. Intimacy with rocks, crevices and the creatures of the dark filled her timeless world. She did not know day or night, season or storm. Her life was simple except for the constant fear. Fear of starving or wandering back to the cavern she thought of as bones of memory.
She barely knew how she had discovered what she could eat in the mines. Her knowledge seemed to appear after a blur of desperation. At first eating the animals in the mines had disgusted her but hunger is a powerful master. Now the fear that slept with her and shared her days was centered on what would happen to her if she did not eat these poor creatures. There had been long days of hunger so she knew the edge of the fear, she had simply never been to its center.
Mines are not caves. Golau never would have realized this herself if she had not ended up surviving in a mine. Caves are shaped by natural laws, mines by the laws of men. Her body had developed heightened senses that helped her navigate around the holes and shafts that would surely mean pain and death otherwise. Her skill in avoiding the winzes and stopes had given her a certain limited confidence. However, navigating the steep angles blasted into the earth by explosives presented unique challenges. Her first encounter with unexploded explosives nearly undid her but there was something in her that had to survive. She did not know why. Even stronger than her fear of hunger or falling into endless blackness was her terror of getting lost and ending up back in the bones of memory cavern. After leaving the bones of memory the first time she simply wanted to die but she had lived and that was her problem.
One day not long ago she had come upon a large body of water. To this point she had licked water from the rocks and found the occasional small underground spring. With no light to see she had discovered the water by smelling its sharp, metallic odor. She longed to bathe in the water. Her longing was stronger than her fear and she eased herself into it an inch at a time. Golau floated for an eternity. It was the first time she had smiled since they had left her all alone in her tomb.
Golau was not used to reverie. Most of her time was spent surviving. For some reason she was filled with thoughts and memories today. She glimpsed his smile for a moment. He would’ve put his hand on her soft shoulder and given her a lopsided grin were they together. And then they both would have glanced at the bundle in her arms.