Chapter Eight

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It seems like hours pass before the tour finishes. Grace led us all around the Depot, pointing out large tunnels and smaller corridors and informing us of where they lead: the Library, the Dining Room, the Training Facility, the Security Quarter, the labs, the classrooms... Now we stand in the middle of the Warehouse, surrounded by people wandering through this tunnel or out of that. I'm reminded of the busy city streets, except I know that these people have a purpose.

"Would you girls like to join me for lunch?" Grace offers. Leah and I nod. I don't want to be rude and decline the offer, though I'd really rather spend some time alone with my mother. I need to know the truth. And not just the collective version of it; I need to know my own truth. Why my mother hadn't rescued me years ago, why my grandmother didn't know anything about the Depot...

"No, Grace. You and Leah go ahead. I'm going to show Enna my apartment," my mom says. Relief floods through me.

"See you, Enna," Leah says, smiling at me.

"Bye," I reply, grinning back. I wave at Grace then watch as she and Leah walk towards the Dining Room on the second floor.

"Come on," my mom says. She takes my hand again and leads me upstairs and down a corridor on the left. I grew up being taught that any form of touch is negative and invasive. Now that I know I was taught false doctrines, I wonder why they taught us the things they did. I wonder why there was so much separation among genders and family members and age groups.

"Enna... It's been such a long time! How are you?" She asks. I can tell that she is suppressing another emotion beneath her light tone.

"I-I don't know, mom," I answer. I don't know what else to say. Instantly she drops her manufactured demeanor, adopting a more serious one.

"How's Mark? Do you know where he is?" Suddenly, I can feel my heartbeat in my throat and the tunnel before us starts to spin. Mark. Guilt slows my thoughts as his terrified eyes glare through my memory. My footsteps falter and I lean on the rocky wall for support.

"Enna, it's okay sweetie," my mom whispers. I look into her gentle green eyes and at the sparse freckles spotting her nose. This is my mother. She saved me. I can trust her. I have to.

"He got plugged in," I mutter, staring at the floor. I can't bear to see the disappointment on her face. But instead of making an angry remark, she just grabs my arm and walks with me down the hallway again. We make multiple turns and travel down more hallways before the growing silence almost strangles me. "It's my fault..."

"No," my mom says, shaking her head. "It's my fault."

"What?" I can't help but glance at her now. She stares straight ahead but I can detect a deep sadness in her gaze. "What do you mean?" She sighs.

"I didn't really want to tell you, but you deserve to know the truth after what you've been through." We arrive at her apartment, and she opens the door with a key. I hadn't been paying attention to the route we took to get here, but upon entry I can instantly tell that my mother is low on the Depot's importance hierarchy. Her plaster-walled apartment comprises of a sink, a toilet, a refrigerator, and a bed; all crammed into an area the size of a large closet. I shuffle in slowly then plop down onto the bed. She sits next to me and opens the refrigerator door, pulling out a sandwich.

"Are you hungry?" She asks, offering me the food. My growling stomach doesn't have to answer for me. I grab the sandwich and begin stuffing it into my mouth. Instantly, tastes I've never experienced before explode in my mouth: fresh vegetables, toasted bread, and grilled meat. The sandwich is gone before my mother closes the fridge door and gets settled on the bed.

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