Chapter 17: Elisa

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The horror broadcasted on TV drew a dark cloud over the Jones plantation. It wasn't Mr. Andrew's intention to let us watch a live execution, but none of us could look away. It was too ugly, too graphic to not watch. Blood was seeping into the wooden slats on the stage.

Steel's supporters rallied even louder, making their words ring through at a deafening volume. The cameras remained rolling while members of the cleanup crew began to nail the bodies onto wooden stakes. Mr. Andrew grabbed the remote and shut off the television. Felicia was clutching the pearls around her neck in silent horror. She looked at Mr. Andrew who couldn't stop staring at the floor.

"We grew up with some of those people." She whispered.

Mr. Andrew blinked at her sentence, not responding. Instead he took to his feet and left the living room. Guadalupe and Matilde cleared their throats, urging me back into the kitchen. I looked back at Felicia as tears rolled down her face. Matilde dragged me right through the door and shook her head.

"The Jones' grieve in private. There is nothing you can say that will make them feel better about what they've seen. They've just lost a number of childhood friends." She said.

There was no sign of Felicia or Mr. Andrew for the rest of the day.

In fact, there was no real sign of them for days. They'd eat separately and stay in their rooms for long periods of time. The only time Felicia would come out was when Mr. Elias would pay a visit and one of us had to chaperone for them, but even that was spent in silence.

The members of The Freedom Party, who had been executed, had not been allowed proper funerals. President Steel has created a special cemetery for them. It was like Arlington, only for traitors. The cemetery was being referred to as Lee Heights, because it was in Lee Heights.

Seven long days passed before they had breakfast together for the first time. The conversation was light and filled with attempts to be joyous.

"Tonight is your engagement party Feline." Mr. Andrew said as I poured them each another glass of orange juice.

"I know, Elias is excited," Felicia replied.

"Aren't you?"

"Yes, but we'll be missing guests tonight."

"There's nothing we can do. We'll heal in time."

"That's what you told me when mom and dad died. I feel their absence more than ever now. We're alone." She said.

"How can you say that? You have me, and Elias isn't going to disappear into the wall when you marry him." Mr. Andrew reminded, with a hint of irritation in his voice.

"And if something happens to you? That's the last of my blood family." Felicia argued.

"Nothing is going to happen to me."

"Those people weren't trying to overthrow Steel, but his paranoia had them executed anyway."

Mr. Andrew shook his head. "We don't know what they were into." He said.

"You mean to tell me that you believe that they were involved in that Freedom Party?" Disbelief etched itself across Felicia's face.

"I don't know what to believe right now, but we can't focus on that. You should be happy."

"How can I be happy when our friends are dead?"

"They'll understand if you suspend your grief for one night."

Felicia looked at me, gripping her fork tightly. Oh man, she was going to yell at me.

"Would you still hold your engagement party if your friends were dead?" She asked.

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