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Ch. 5 White Rabbit

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Lacey lay in the grass of the Village Green, glad for once that she couldn’t cry. There was a nip in the air, and stalks of yellow grass poked into her back. The brown waters of the river Anam crawled past the far end of the field. Hundreds of logs floated in a boom off the sandy shore, before being sent down river. The only sounds were the thud of log against log, and the whisper of water on its way to the far off ocean. She wanted to see the ocean one day, and that was within her grasp, if the Envoy meant what she said. 

People were not always comfortable with Lacey. But nobody had ever told her to leave. Not like that. When the scientists had created their ideals and instructions for life on the new world, it had not included anything about batgirls, or haunted forests, and magic wells. Mama pretended she was no different from any other kid; some people wanted to pretend she didn’t exist. Envoy Yasmina seemed to want to wipe Lacey out of existence. That would be off the Path though.

Something about letting the Envoy help her felt slimy to Lacey. But Devan had taken the only empty spot in the Hunters, and if someone didn’t speak on her behalf, she might end up chained to the ovens, trapped in this place—with these people—forever.

Ella giggled from across the field, and Lacey shot upright. It would be just like the little brat to get herself into trouble when Lacey needed time to think.

Ella was on her hands and knees, hunting in the grass. Her cheeks were pink from the cold, and her hair brassy in the orange tint of the sun on the horizon. She was far enough from the Wood and the river to not be in any danger. Lacey knew exactly what her sister was up to.

“Ella, I told you. It’s the wrong time for daisies.”

Ella waved like an idiot.

“Dumb fish,” Lacey muttered.

In the spring, Lacey had made a daisy chain necklace for Mama and, ever since, Ella had been trying to make one too. Her attempts were mutant strands of squashed flowers, which fell apart every time.

Ella crawled around for a few more minutes, but had no luck coaxing any daisies out of the thatch. She sat back in frustration and yelped as she landed on a large pinecone.

Lacey laughed.

“You’re a meenie-face today,” Ella said. “I bet you stole all the daisies.”

Lacey rolled her eyes, “I’m a meenie-face everyday. Maybe I did steal the daisies. Maybe I put them in a secret spot, where nobody but me will ever find them again.”

“Where? Tell me where!”

“Nope, not telling.” Lacey leaned back on her elbows.

Ella jumped on Lacey, straddling her belly. “Tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me!”

“Oof. Get off!” She stood up, dumping her little sister onto the grass.

“Tell me!” Ella said. She rubbed her knee where it had scraped the ground, but blinked back her tears. Her sister didn’t cry, so Ella didn’t cry.

Lacey gritted her teeth, she hated all the little ways her sister tried to emulate her. “Why should I tell you? So you can be a copy cat?”

“Are they under your bed?”

“No.” Lacey climbed up on the big boulder near the road. On top of the bolder was a mess of colorful painted graffiti. It was a tradition of the village kids who were finally tall enough to make the climb. Lacey made her mark when she was nine, long before most kids her age—a stick figure on top of a mountain in blue paint. She wasn’t much of an artist.

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