(14) Seven

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The last dated entry in Vix's journal is six days old.

No, reads the first line. No no no no no no no no no. Please, wake up. Wake up wake up wake up wake up.

I can't tell who she's talking about, or to. A journal seems like a weird place to respond to someone else's Sleeping or death... it's generally a place for talking to yourself.

Unless that's exactly what Vix is doing.

I need to leave, reads the next line. Please, God, if you exist, help me. They're going to kill me. They're going to KILL me.

Below this is a gap of several lines. I stare in incomprehension at the writing when it picks up again. It's a little messier, like it was written in a moving vehicle or under poor lighting conditions. But that doesn't explain what it says.

Seven was always second best. A person who tries to run is not ready to die yet, even if they're flailing. Isn't that what you said when it rained? She heard it, too. Everything is raining in the rivers, and nothing important lies in the rivers, you said while Cassie shoots apples like organizing makes any sense. Is nothing important nothing at all? What did Seven see?

I can feel the silence. Seven wanted the truth and you're running away. You can't and it doesn't make sense but it's not silent anymore and the sense is running away, lies down on the riverbed and drains all the life out of my little brother. Oil and water, Oreo, you need to burn. Everything and more was always second best. You dream about cities.

Vix is making sense without making sense at all. Her sentences only get more incoherent from there, like the raving of a person who fell to some mind-eating disease without losing the ability to write about it. Her handwriting gets messier. The gaps on the pages between lines and paragraphs grow in size. Her words stray off the lines, over the margins, and into one another by the end of the ninth page. By the time her stilted rambling ends abruptly eleven and a half pages later, it's illegible.

I flip back to the first page of it. Vix keeps mentioning rivers, hearing something, and someone named Seven. I can only assume they're a person.

A person who tries to run is not ready to die yet.

Seven wanted the truth and you're running away.

If this isn't gibberish, it doesn't sound like Seven is around anymore. And then there's the line about Oreo needing to burn. Oreo is the last person to text Vix's phone. None of this makes sense. Except the lines that do.

Everything is raining in the rivers, and nothing important lies in the rivers, you said.

What did Seven see?

I saw something in the river when I dove in to save Patrick. I convinced myself afterward that I'd imagined it. That the thick, dark sludge pooled along the bottom was just a trick of salt- and freshwater mixing, or a play of the light at the edge of my vision. It was so dark down there, I couldn't tell for sure. But Patrick sank to the edge of it. To the edge, but no further, and there at that boundary, I could have sworn the darker water reached up around him. Or tried to, anyway. It retreated again moments later. And then the current swept him up like a broken doll and carried him away.

I told Calico J about it because we tell each other everything, and I stick to that even when I think I might have imagined something. But the other two don't know. Ditzy because she fell asleep on the couch during the evening when we would have told her, and Patrick because the last time we talked about the river, it nearly put him into a panic attack. Now we avoid the topic when he's around.

It's not silent anymore.

I reread that fragment several times. Then I begin to comb through the rest of the page, then the next page, searching for more references to hearing or sound. There are plenty. Almost as many as about the river, and there's a lot about the river. Near the top of the third page, though, a solitary line stops me dead in my tracks.

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