Alby let us have the next two days off of work to help with the shock. It didn't seem like nearly enough. The hours stretched on and on until they felt like years, and a strong sense of despondence stifled the air like physical weights on our shoulders. Every smile was a sin. As soon as we started to feel any kind of joy, it would trickle back into sorrow almost instantly.
Nick being gone forever was a difficult thought to process. My mind never wanted to believe it, and every time his name floated to the surface of my brain, I felt a pinch in my heart. It was so strange not to see him walking around the Glade. The fact that he was truly dead was something I couldn't accept. But I had to- it was real.
Clark had slipped into this strange silence where he wouldn't speak to anyone. Garret had to sort of take over for him at the Farm, directing people on what to do when their Keeper wouldn't respond. His eyes were constantly glazed over like he wasn't seeing. He moved like a robot. It was as if his body was on autopilot, going through motions without his mind having to direct him to.
Getting back to work was a difficult task for everyone. Nobody wanted to when our leader had just been sliced in half, but according to Alby, it was essential for us to fall back into routine.
We buried Nick on the second night. After the Med-jacks tried to figure out what exactly had cut Nick and deduced there had to be some hidden blades in the Box Hole, Alby threw a fit. He got so angry at the Creators that he ran out to the middle of the Glade and screamed curse words at the sky. Some of the older kids covered the younger ones' ears.
Alby was furious. He demanded Gally hand him over one of the boards the Builders had on hand. When Gally tried to explain that they needed the boards to fix up the Homestead, Alby stole one anyway. He took it out during Nick's burial and placed it above the remains. Letters were messily scrawled into the smooth wood.
Let this half-shank be a warning to all: You can't escape through the Box Hole.
Short and sweet.
Clark came out of his lapse of silence with all the knowledge in the world- or so he said. His voice was throaty when he spoke to me, barely intelligible from how raspy it was. We sat on my bed on the fourth night, me drawing and him staring off into space. The comfortable silence was broken by his voice.
"I have all the knowledge in the world," he informed me suddenly. It took me a second to realize he spoke, so when I looked up from my sketchbook, he was staring at me expectantly.
"Oh, yeah?" I asked as I closed the book and sat up straighter against my pillow. "What's that?"
"First of all, I realized that I suck," he replied bluntly. "I mean, big-time. I had a chance and I didn't take it. It's all Luke's fault."
My eyebrows furrowed. "Why is it Luke's fault?"
"Because I'm just now realizing that I liked Nick. I mean, yeah, Luke has a nice face and all, but that's about it. What he said to you a few months ago was uncalled for and suckish. But Nick...he was nice, and he was the one who really understood me, who--" Clark swallowed thickly and released a shaking breath. "I don't think I'll ever get over it."
"Of course you won't," I sympathized, scooting closer to him slowly. My braced leg moved heavily off the side of my mattress until I was seated against the wall. "I don't think anybody really 'gets over' death. It kind of just gets easier."