[11] Sage

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I'm tired, and Jake is beginning to yawn as well. Finally, he gives up the battle and returns to his room - only after making sure I am comfortable.

He is very helpful.

I lie awake, momentarily ignoring my weariness so I can work through a few thoughts that have been lurking in the back of my brain.

I wonder if anyone back on Earth is searching for us. Have our families been told that we're missing yet? If so, does anyone have even just one family member who would actually care? Jake's parents disowned him out of hatred and shame, Deirdre's family is dead by her hand, Xavier's father is a drug lord who let his son permanently cripple himself, Nicole's stepdad tortured and brainwashed her for fun, and my former loved ones hate me for all that I've done. If Xavier's or Nicole's mothers were still around, maybe they would care. They are lucky for that chance, that possibility. I have to live with the knowledge that my parents despise me.

Both of them visited and told me together a few months after I was institutionalized.

I wrench my thoughts away from my least favorite memory and onto a more manageable topic: Jake.

Why is he bothering to befriend me? There isn't a lot to befriend. Just some leftovers of normal girl smothered under a fresh batch of crazy. His efforts still feel nice, though. Although he's probably only being kind so I will help him in the Trials, pretending I have a friend is almost as good as the real thing.

I am curious about these Trials. How will I perform in them when I can't even move on my own? Maybe that's why I should make a true effort to befriend Jake. It couldn't hurt to have the muscle of the group on my side.

Finally, the nerves and confusion combine in a horrible knot in my stomach. The idea of sleeping is officially lost

Carefully, I slide quietly to the floor, knowing full well that I can't get back onto my bed. No resting now.

I use my arms to heave myself across the room until, only a couple seconds later, they start to twinge uncomfortably. I commando crawl to the desk with the last of my strength and have to rest before I attempt to heave myself to my feet. I fall as soon as I stand. I try again, arms burning both from the crawling and this. This second time, I manage to stand for a few brief seconds, my muscles spasming uncontrollably, before crashing painfully to the floor.

Jake hurries into the room, looking concerned. "You sounded like you were dying," he says dryly as soon as he sees me sprawled on the floor, blossoming bruises decorating my knees and pride. "What are you even trying to do?"

"Walk," I say. "What are you doing still around?"

"I couldn't sleep. I was walking laps." He offers me a hand and I grab it. Carefully, he raises his arm, effortlessly pulling me to my feet despite the fact that I'm deadweight. I lean heavily against his tree trunk of an arm and try to take a step. He just manages to catch me under the arms as I lurch forward.

We proceed out of my room and down the hall in this fashion, him holding me out in front of him like a baby just learning motor skills. It is the least dignified I have ever been.

We walk around for a little while until I am just being pushed along instead of actually doing anything. My legs ache. Finally, without a word passed between us, Jake takes me back to my room, sets me back up in bed, and leaves once more.

Limbs burning, I finally find sleep.

*

The next morning, Nicole enters my room with Jake at her side. She is smiling flirtatiously and laughing at something he just said. I watch them both silently from my bed.

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