Chapter 6.

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The next morning, I manage to conquer the bleak voices in my head long enough to grab two bicycles from our shed and go pick up Dion. I haven't ridden a bike in such a long time that the half-hour ride to the police station takes me an extra fifteen minutes.

A smell of unwashed socks and cleaning agent greets me at the station. A female officer is sitting in a cubicle behind thick safety glass. The deep wrinkle between her eyebrows gives her face an expression of permanent reproach. As soon as I mention Dion's name, she nods as if she knows exactly who I'm talking about. I assume he's the only one who spent the night here.

A middle-aged woman with long salt and pepper colored hair is sitting on the bench that's bolted to the wall. She is tapping her feet rhythmically on the floor, her hands circling around in the air like birds performing a mating dance.

I lift an eyebrow at the police officer, who shrugs. "She wanted to bless the station. So we won't fade."

"And you're okay with that?"

The officer smiles sadly. "Nothing else has helped."

She leaves through a door at the back of the cubicle before I have a chance to ask her how many officers are left in the Surrey RCMP.

When I sit down, the woman lowers her hands to her lap and turns to me with the beatific smile of a true believer. I brace myself. But she says: "You must think I'm out of my mind."

"No, Ma'am," I hasten to say.

I want to turn away, but the woman starts talking before I am able to.

"I had a daughter your age," she says. "Angela. She disappeared right at the beginning of the fade-away." She laces her fingers across her knees. "First we thought ... well, you know what most people thought." Her eyes are distant. "That she was murdered. That someone had taken her. Ed was beside himself – he swore he would get the bastards. Then we heard about the other people disappearing ... we knew Angela was never coming back. It wasn't long after that that Ed..."

She stops again, and for a moment I don't know what to say. Finally I opt for, "I'm sorry to hear that. My parents recently disappeared, too."

The woman looks at me, a new version of her earlier beatific smile appearing on her face, and says: "You will be alright. You know how I know that?"

She shows me her hands. "A week ago these were almost translucent. Now ..." She puts her hands on mine and squeezes. Solid. "God has blessed me," she says, and I wait for the preaching to start. But it doesn't; she just looks at me with eyes that shine with the conviction of a true believer.

I really can't blame her. Who wouldn't want the certainty that they would never fade? Who wouldn't give anything to prevent the end of their life? Dion would certainly do anything. With his parachute jumps and his pact.

I only smile politely.

The woman pats my hand. "If you want, I can tell you ..."

Before I need to try to come up with a reason why I really don't have time, the waiting area door bursts open, hitting the wall and bouncing back. We both start.

Dion appears in the doorway. When he spots me, there is a momentary expression of relief on his face before he lifts his eyebrows and says mockingly, "I always knew you had a thing for older women, Jojo."

Normally I hate that nickname, but this time I'm glad for the intervention. I pull my hands from beneath the woman's and get up quickly. "I brought you a bike," I say. "So you don't have to ride double."

"A bike? Couldn't you have brought the car? It's raining."

"I can't drive."

"So?"

"So I'm picking you up from a police station."

He looks as if he considers that for a moment, and finally just says "Idiot," before walking out the door.

I glance at the woman, trying to pretend I'm really very sorry she didn't get an opportunity to finish her story. She gazes at me with pitying eyes and says smoothly, "You'll be alright."

I flee away from her, to Dion.

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