48 - Where Girl and Boy Talk

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         I didn’t quite stay until my skin sagged off of me in rolling waves as originally planned, but I stood until I’d rinsed all my troubles down the drain, keeping hold of only one: Sam.

         Beatrice was already lying on her bed with a zebra-patterned sleeping mask strapped onto her head.

         The bed looked tempting from the way she was laying on it.

         I’ll slide in for a few minutes, I thought, pulling back the tucked covers, but I won’t fall asleep yet. Not…

      “Oh my gosh.”  I beamed at the ceiling. After using my sleeping bag, this thing felt like I was sleeping in a pasture, on top of a herd of sheep.

         When Jacoby came out in his school track t-shirt and a pair of plaid pyjama pants, he smiled at me, but waited until he was on my side of the room before speaking. I couldn’t tell when his hair was wet, but I knew his auburn colour was growing back.

         “Feels great, right?” he murmured with a nod at the blankets.

         I smiled and patted the space beside me.

         His eyes glimmered but he shook his head and pulled up a chair. I scooted to the edge of the bed so we wouldn’t disturb Beatrice with our talk.

         His expression sobered with mine. He draped the towel over his head and gave me a little nod. “You handled that pretty well.”

         “What, too used to me making rash decisions?”

         He smiled. “Coming with me and then leaving were both rash decisions.”

         “Hey,” I snapped. “Saved our asses just now.”

         He relented with a nod and continued seriously, “What if we lead them there? What if we jeopardize everything that the hideout has done for Others?”

         I sighed and shook my head. “I’m not heroic enough to turn home now,” I whispered. “It’s been—especially the past few days, I just…” I trailed off, and all at once, my thoughts unfroze and began pouring back into my head. I willed them to go away with my shaky exhale.

         “Right.” He nodded slowly. “You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”

         I shook my head, and all of a sudden, I felt sickly lying in such a comfortable bed. I had yet to find out where Sam was, if he’d been taken away, if he was all right…if he was alive.

         “First things first,” I said, and reached into my bag for the letter Sam had given me. Seeing the crumpled state it was in sent a pang reverberating through my chest. Sam was a boy, no matter how independent he was; a boy with a dad, a brother, and a place to go, dreams to make true. My lip wobbled as I traced the creases in the paper, wondering how many times Sam must’ve gotten out his brother’s letters to read, hoping, probably, that one day he wouldn’t need to rely on post to hear from Kludo. And now…

         “Read it.” I placed it on the covers close to Jacoby, and he picked it up with careful fingers.

         I lay back, my eyes heavy, and waited for him to finish. When a couple minutes passed and he still hadn’t said a word, I peeked.

         His eyes no doubt lingered on scrawled “Imaginer” in Kludo’s narrow writing.

         “We’ll talk about this another time,” he mumbled, before handing the letter back to me, folded according to the creases. He ran a hand through his damp hair and let it stay there for a little. “That’s…That’s amazing, though.”

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