Illustration by H.J. Ford, The Orange Fairy Book, 1906


All tribes in the Grove share the same childhood tradition: if you have a really good dream, you're supposed to save the soil in your pillow to allow it to come true. When Lemon and I were nine we traded ours as a pact to seal the friendship.

I pry the box out from deep under my closet shelf. It's the cheap wooden kind they give you to decorate as a craft project. The sky blue paint is covered in Sharpie: FB & LP, BFF!

The tiny metal latch sticks but I pry it open and Cord shines a light inside the box. There is the dusty earth caked to the bottom with a note in Lemon's bubbly handwriting and the date she had the dream about a Grove without any beheadings, only peace. The irony sinks in as I cradle the remnants of her broken dream and whisper it to Cord.

"But Lemon's not your enemy," Cord reminds me. "The verse mentions a pillow the enemy sleeps on."

"Her grandfather certainly is and Lemon was living at his house at the time because her parents were getting a divorce."

"But Fuch, remember who the enemy is, as much as we can't stand Judge Paintbrush, think - who is the real enemy of tribes people?"

We mouth the word Wasters at the same time but the bang of the screen door rattles the house. I stare wide eyed at Cord. It's one thing to be caught breaking into your own home, but after all we've seen, it's another to be running from the law while doing it.

"Quick," I hiss. "Follow me." I pray the guards haven't found my secret escape route.

Pocketing the tiny treasure box of Lemon's soil into my waterproof pouch, I slowly lift my window and crawl onto the sliver of roof that juts out over the creek. The water rushes into a deep pool directly below, but since it's dark I can only see foamy white defining the rocks we'll have to avoid when we jump.

Cord follows as guard boots clatter up the stairs. I press into the side of the house where the gable pitches so they can't see us, but we've got to close that window or they'll know we're here. Cord gets this without me having to explain. Only problem is, shutting the window from outside is tricky because it's backwards. He struggles to find leverage as a light pierces his face.

"Well, looky here," A voice booms. "Don't folks ever learn it's illegal to be trespassin' on a crime scene?'

"Nope, some folks is just stupid," another guard answers.

Cord is still frozen in the beam like a Cloak that can't turn away. He hisses to me as his hands go up in surrender, "Run!"

Only a healer's son would be so self-sacrificing, and I love him and hate him for it at once.

The guards argue about the proper procedure of arrest protocol, and I'm grateful for this time to tell Cord how I feel. "You can't. I need you!" I whisper back.

"Fuch, get your butt down to the water and complete the mission. I'll find you."

"I'm not leaving you."

"It's the only way to save your mom and Mr. S."

He's right. I prepare to exit the roof in my usual way, but before that I have to tell him. "Cord, I – thank you for trusting me back. You're the best." It's not what I really want to say, but the whole situation makes me too nervous for the right words.

He doesn't even return the awkward complement. Instead he whispers, "Remember who the enemy is!" before the handcuffs pull him inside my trashed room.

The deep water waits. With a jump, I plunge into the inky place that will carry me far away.

Instead of surfacing, I focus on staying under until I'm out of sight, following the current down stream. Past the boulder where the guards can't see me, I bob to the surface. For the first time I can remember I don't swim. Instead I float, letting the whispering reeds carry me along, giving me time to process the answer to the riddle. I sing it to the water, like a chant to summon courage:

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