9. A Goodbye Gone Wrong

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       I haven't seen Zero in three days.

       Things are back to normal and I'm back to spending my days sitting behind the desk and tapping a pencil. It's a little better, since Peter is still guard and we now chit-chat and make conversation, so the boredom doesn't kill me as much as it used to. 

      Because I ask, Peter updates me on Zero's well being. Whatever happened three days ago, the fact remains that I don't hate Zero. He is locked up all day after all, besides the little bit of exercise he gets in the mornings, but even then he's still trapped in a guarded perimeter. 

I had been hoping he was doing alright, but the news Peter gives me is almost heart breaking.

  Zero doesn't eat. 

It's nearly gotten to the point where they're contemplating giving him forced nutrients through IV's. Whenever he's not sleeping, he's whining himself hoarse, then once his throat heals he's back to howling. During his fitness hour each morning, he refuses to do anything but run until he's on the brink of collapsing.

 Peter says he keeps muttering my nickname, the one he gave me. Ashie. 

I would be lying if I said I didn't feel a pang of sorrow when I heard that, but I have to do this. maybe if I keep my distance the connection or bond Zero formed with me will vanish on its own.

      Still, I toss and turn at night, knowing Zero, who has been nothing but sweet to me since day one, is hurting.

 My dreams of finally getting off this island intensify, although some part of me knows no distance will separate me from this guilt.

      On the fourth day all the employees held a funeral for the nurse who died at Zero's hands. I force myself to attend, even though it's not the real funeral. The body was shipped back to main land and given to the family. Friends and acquaintances say a few words, while I  stand there is a knee length dress, remembering the glow to the nurse, the happy bounce in her step. 

A heart attack. My dad told me the cause wasn't certain, that it could have happened at any moment, but I don't buy it. It's definitely more easy to have a heart attack when a giant, non-human being is rushing at you with murderous intent.....and all of that was because of me.

I can't sleep that night.

 I manage to last the rest of the week, but on the seventh day I don't think I can take it anymore. The guilt of leaving Zero behind without a proper goodbye gnaws at me, and I know if I ever want to remain on the island until I can finally go to college I need to resolve things with Zero.

Maybe saying goodbye and explaining to Zero that he can't damage his health will help alleviate my guilt.

     I wait till it's night, and my father's fast asleep from the heavy work load he's been doing these days. After all, running a lab is not anywhere near easy, especially after one of the personnel just died from a heart attack.

 I pass his sleeping form on the couch and pause, before doubling back, grabbing a blanket, and laying it on him. Dad and I haven't really talked these days, both of us in our own little anxious world, and I see the stress weighing down on him.

     Sometimes, I wish it were different. I wish we were a normal family, who's mother didn't get lost at sea and who's father doesn't work for a lab studying a not quite human being. We all can't choose our life stories though, and I have to remind myself that no matter what happens, someone out there always has it worse.

For example, the locked up person named Zero  who's experimented on everyday.

 I shut the door to the house quietly, feeling the humid night air hit me immediately.

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