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The Awakening

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No wifi. No cell service. No electronics of any kind.

It was heaven for Sansa Stark.

Sansa’s mother protested her going to Deerpark, Cornwall so close to exams, but Sansa needed a calm, quiet place to study. With such an unusually warm spring, she wanted to take advantage of the weather to read outside, revise by moonlight, and fall asleep to the sound of crickets.

“You won’t last two hours without your mobile,” Sansa’s sister, Arya, had said.

It was true that Sansa was as addicted to her phone as anyone else, but with no internet or signal to distract her, she was confident she could retain more knowledge and nab a first for her second year at uni.

The cabin Sansa was staying in was nestle between two other charming, identical cottages no bigger than a two-stall barn. The cabins overlooked a lake surrounded by tall pines and muddy shores.

As Sansa drove up to cabin two, she noticed there were no other cars around. Either she would be alone for the week, or her neighbors has yet to make an entrance. Regardless, Sansa thought the area was beautiful. There was a hammock swaying between two trees near the dirt road, a stump for chopping wood, a fire pit, and a small shed nestled right up to the side of the cabin.

Sansa unloaded her bags and breathed deeply, the scent of dirt and pine filling her with hope and purpose. The door was jammed a bit, but with a hearty shove of her shoulder, Sansa burst through, nearly toppling over her belongings. She dropped the bags and looked around. The cabin was smaller than the pictures on the website–with just an oatmeal-colored sofa, a wood stove, a small nook for cooking, and a bookshelf as tall as a five-year-old. A door on the left lead to the bedroom, and another adjacent held the lou.

It was cramped, smelled like mothballs, and deadly quiet.

Sansa thought it was perfect.

About an hour into unpacking and settling in, Sansa heard the low rumble on an engine putting up the road. It got louder the closer it got, until finally roaring up to the next cabin over like a beast.

Sansa peeked out the flimsy curtains and saw a man clad in black on a motorcycle. He parked his bike on the grass in front of cabin one. Great, Sansa thought. A bloody Hell’s Angel to ruin the week.

The man got off his bike and took off his helmet. Sansa could only see the back of him. He was a hulking fellow with broad shoulders and dirt-dusted jeans, a cracked leather jacket with a patch of a black horse stitched on the shoulder. He had black hair that was receding a bit, steel-toed boots, and large hands that reached in his coat pocket for a fag.

Sansa groaned as the man lit up a cigarette and blew smoke out. The biker finally turned and, for a half second, Sansa saw his face. The man looked as hard and worn as his leather jacket. His brows were large but his eyes were small, his mouth turned down in a grimace. He had black stubble that looked irritated from so much scratching. If he had smiled and shaved, the man might’ve been quite handsome.

However, the large scar across the right side of his face ruined the biker’s chances of ever modeling.

Sansa squinted, struggling to make out the lines and grooves of the man’s deformity, but was caught off guard when the man locked eyes with her. Sansa gasped and stepped away from the window. Through the crack in the curtain, she saw the man take another puff on his cigarette, staring at the spot in the window where she had previously been.

Finally, the man turned away and gathered his bag from the tail of the Harley. Sansa rubbed her neck, embarrassed, then continued unpacking.

***

It was after three by the time Sansa was fully settled in. She made herself a cup of tea and perused the brochure left for her on the bookshelf. Deerpark boasted horseback riding, kayaking, and the village of Herodsfoot just a few kilometers down the road. Sansa began making a list in her in her notebook of provisions to get in town, but was interrupted but a dull thwack! from outside.

Bread
Beans
Tomatoes
Thwack!
Wine
Crisps
Chocolate
Thwack!

Sansa threw her pen down and stood from the table. She opened the door and poked her head outside to see what the commotion was.

The biker was chopping wood in his white undershirt, another fag hanging between his lips. He placed another hunk of wood on the block, raised his massive arms, and split the log clean in half with little effort.

Sansa gaped. She had never seen such a strong man. Not even the rugby boys at uni had as much power to them. Sweat rolled down the man’s back, shirt clinging to his skin. Sansa unconsciously licked her lips.

“It’s rude to stare,” the man said. He took a long drag from the cigarette and turned toward Sansa, breathing out smoke as he did. He had a thick Scottish accent, the kind Americans might make fun of on daytime talk shows.

“Sorry,” Sansa said. She nervously fidgeted with the hem of her shorts. “I was just seeing what the noise was.”

“You’ve seen it,” the man gruffly replied, “now jog on.”

Sansa scowled. She watched as the Scotsman turned back to his task and put the cigarette to his mouth again. “Those will kill you,” she said pointedly.

He swiveled to her again and said with a snarl, “Literally never heard that before in m'life. You must be a bloody genius.”

Sansa lowered her eyes. It was a shitty way to start the week. She decided she wanted to be on this man’s good side rather than face the brunt of his bike engine roaring and cigarette smoke wafting in her windows.

“I’m Sansa.”

A low chuckle vibrated deep within the man. He abandoned his task altogether, chucking the ax to the side and fully facing Sansa with his arms crossed over his chest. “What kinda feckin’ name is that?”

“It’s a family name,” Sansa explained, ignoring the sting of his insult. “What do they call you?”

“They call me a lot of things,” the man said, puffing on his fag. “‘Cunt, bastard, asshole. And my personal favorite–” he pointed to his scar “’–ugly fuck.’”

“You’re not–” Sansa stopped herself. Her mother always said that her politeness would one day get her into trouble. Sometimes people didn’t need to be reassured that they were smart or kind or handsome. Some people treated flattery as an insult. Sansa cleared her throat and tried again: “What’s your name?”

The man eyed Sansa up and down, the wheels spinning in his head. He flicked his cigarette away and snubbed it under his boot. “Clegane,” he answered. “Just Clegane.”