He could see them when he closed his eyes. Not from when he was child, not from when they’d truly hated him. All he saw were their eyes as he left. And there’d been nothing there. They hadn’t hated him of pitied him or even cared. In their eyes, he had been less than nothing. Not even a lost pet, not even just a cripple walking away from a warm home. He’d seen nothing.
And they’d turned away. Trkasu’s knuckles whitened on his cane. The bag of food was heavier than it had been the step before. He paused in his trek to the pit, eyes closed. His foot throbbed and the world around him was silent.
“Three older brothers?” It was his own voice that broke the silence, incredulous and echoing. “And alive? And happy?” His legs were shaking and he didn’t just want to stand there. Someone could see him, could see the naked fear he was sure shown on his face.
The almost stumbling and shuffling steps he took the rest of the way to the pit would likely have convinced any observers he was either drunk or exhausted. But when the door closed behind him and the bag of food fell the ground, all illusion fell away. His cane clattered to the ground.
Trkasu curled against the wall, knees pressed to his chest through the sweater. There were no tears as he struggled for calm, eyes tightly closed. Below him the scorpions hissed and clattered. The food he had brought for them had filled the room with scents they desired. Trkasu struggled on foot out, kicking the bag to the very edge.
Above the sound of his breath came the splatter of meat and the sound of the scorpion’s eager approach. Trkasu knew they would not bother him. Scorpions cared not for the higher emotions, did not pretend to understand the confusion that kept him from rejoining them.
His hands trembled on his knees. The shakes scared him. Trkasu forced himself to relax, forcing his breath slower and slower. And as he slowed he let himself hear the scorpions, hear their voices and their emotions. They were a family, together and happy. Children chattered to parents and the parents would have smiled if they could.
Trkasu didn’t noticed the tears until he pressed his forehead against his wet knees. And then he didn’t even care. He hated it as he cried. The tears were silent and he barely even moved, simply sat curled around his knees and wept. He didn’t know why he wept, not really. There was something he didn’t have that let him loose the tears, made him loose the tears.